Let’s be honest. When someone dies, expressing your condolences in an authentic way can be challenging. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we’re here to help make the process a little bit easier. Start by reminding yourself that there are no perfect words you could spin to make it all better. Instead, a well-crafted sympathy card can momentarily lift their spirits, remind them you're there, and perhaps even be something they turn to later on when the cards aren’t flowing in in droves.
We hope this template helps you write something thoughtful, but always remember to tailor your card to the person and what they'll receive best. If they love humor, don’t be afraid to be funny! They’ll probably appreciate it more than you know. Just be YOU, not some robotic version of you that regurgitates “I’m so sorry for your loss” and signs off.
Start with your condolences.
We may rag on cliches condolences above, but sometimes expressing how sorry you are really can be the best way to start out. Feel free to explore other variations like “I’m so sorry you’re going through this tough time," or “I was so sorry to hear about the passing of [insert name]."
Let them know you're thinking of them.
Though it may seem obvious, letting someone know you care about them and that they aren't alone can be surprisingly comforting. If you're religious, feel free to share that you're praying for the deceased and your friend. If not, leave it out—it'll feel inauthentic. Most importantly, make sure the recipient knows that you're present and thinking of them.
Share a memory if you can.
If you have memories with the deceased, it is always nice to share how you remember them through a story or description. Looking back on fond memories might be painful, but it’s also therapeutic and may bring a smile to the card receiver. If you don’t have any memories, skip this part entirely.
Let them know you’re there for them in this difficult time by offering help. If you’re able to bring them meals, clean their home, or simply lend an ear, the offer lets them know they have support and someone to turn to. Just be sure to follow up on your offer, as those grieving won't always know how to ask for help.
Close it out.
If you feel comfortable signing it off with love, go with it—love is what they need most right now. If you’re not, try "my deepest condolences," "with sympathy," or "thinking of you."
If you’re worried you’ll say something wrong or really can’t put together something you're comfortable with, just keep it short and sweet. No one expects the card to be perfect—just getting one will make a difference.