How to Write Sympathy Notes

How to Write Sympathy Notes – Sympathy or condolence cards are typical for sending to the family on behalf of the deceased. Almost all families receive sympathy cards on the loss of the loved one. Many people do not know how to write sympathy card messages. I would like to share some best sympathy message examples you can use when writing your own note.

This article discusses basic guidelines for writing sympathy messages. Aside from the sympathy messages examples, the article includes tips on how to write condolence messages, information about how to express sympathies to friends and family members, and suggestions concerning what to say when writing condolences.

Signing a sympathy card isn’t easy. We search for words. We wonder what would be comforting to hear. We worry about saying the wrong thing…

But even though it’s not easy, it is important to reach out in sympathy. Our words can’t take away the pain of losing a loved one, but they can go a long way toward helping a grieving person feel loved and supported.

You should know right up front that you won’t find the perfect thing to write here. However, you will find ideas from seasoned Hallmark writers for good, helpful and hopeful things to write in a sympathy card.

We hope our tips help you relax, write and share your heartfelt caring with someone who is going through a time of grief.

Table of Contents

What NOT to write in a sympathy card

While sympathy card messages don’t have to be perfect, there are certain things you should try to keep from saying:

  • “Everything happens for a reason / it’s all part of God’s plan.” – These are strange things to write in a sympathy card. It might feel reassuring to you, but it’s unkind to try to force someone who is devastated by a loss to see a bright side.
  • “They were so young.”
  • “I know how you feel.” 
  • “Someone else will come along someday / You’re still young. / You can try again” – This is something bereaved partners and parents often find very painful to hear. It may be true, but they’re almost definitely not ready to face that right now.
  • “The pain will fade with time.” – Rarely comforting in the moment. 

What to think carefully about…

  • “I’m praying for you” or “I know (name) is happy in heaven”. Not everyone believes in prayers and an afterlife, and this sentiment can be upsetting.


There are many good reasons for keeping your personal sympathy message short. It could be that the card has already expressed most or all of what you wanted to say. Or maybe you didn’t know the deceased well, or at all. Whatever the reason, you can absolutely be brief and still come across as warm and caring.


  • “We are so sorry for your loss.”
  • “I’m going to miss her, too.”
  • “I hope you feel surrounded by much love.”
  • “Sharing in your sadness as you remember Juan.”
  • “Sharing in your sadness as you remember Dan.”
  • “Sending healing prayers and comforting hugs. I am so sorry for your loss.”
  • “With deepest sympathy as you remember Robert.”
  • “I was saddened to hear that your grandfather passed away. My thoughts are with you and your family.”
  • “Remembering your wonderful mother and wishing you comfort.”
  • “It was truly a pleasure working with your father for 17 years. He will be deeply missed.”
  • “Thinking of you all as you celebrate your sibling’s remarkable life.”
  • “Thinking of you all as you celebrate your grandmother’s remarkable life.”
  • “We are missing Anne along with you. With heartfelt sympathy,”
  • “Thinking of you and wishing you moments of peace and comfort as you remember a friend who was so close to you.”
  • “Our family is keeping your family in our thoughts and prayers.”
  • “Holding you close in my thoughts and hoping you are doing OK.”
  • “Even though there is joy in the homegoing, there is sorrow in your loss. Thinking of you at this tender time.”
  • “Te acompaño en estos momentos de gran tristeza.”

Writing tip: If you knew the person who has passed but not the surviving family member(s) to whom you’re sending your card, it might be helpful to mention your connection to their loved one (from school, through work, etc.).


It can be a great comfort to a grieving person or family to hear that others thought highly of their loved one, too. If you knew and admired the loved one who has transitioned, be sure to let your recipient(s) know.


  • “What an amazing person and what a remarkable life. I feel so lucky that I got to know him.”
  • “What a good and generous man your father was. I thought his funeral service was a wonderful tribute to him and all he has done for our community. He will be missed.”
  • “Your granddad believed in uplifting everyone in his circle. I was one of those people. And I am so honored to have known him.”
  • “Your mama was an amazing lady, and I feel privileged to have known her. I know you will miss her deeply. I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.”
  • “Celebrating the life of a good person and mourning their passing with you.”
  • “Celebrating the life of a good man and mourning his passing with you.”
  • “Your daughter touched so many lives for the good. I’m grateful I had the chance to know her as both a colleague and a cherished friend.”
  • “Your mother blessed so many people with her faith and kindness. Praying that you’ll find comfort in your memories of her and in the knowledge that others are missing her, too.”
  • “Our abuela told us our stories, passed down traditions and held us together in love. We are so blessed to come from her and to feel her love from heaven.”
  • “I have the best memories of staying with Aunt Edie as a kid. I don’t think I’ve told you this, but starting when I was about 10, she would take me to Becker’s for ice cream cones…and let me drive! Only Aunt Edie…I’m going to miss her fun-loving spirit so much.”
  • “Nobody could tell a funny story like your mom. Remember at your graduation party—the story about the vacuuming incident? My face hurt for a full day after from laughing so much. I’ll always cherish those memories of fun times spent with her.”
  • “Your mama was always doing for people. A lot of people have been blessed by her kindness and hold her close in their hearts.”
  • “Qué persona tan maravillosa y qué vida tan extraordinaria. Me alegra mucho el haberla conocido.”

Writing tip: Need a more specific word than “good” to describe the deceased? Consider one of these: kindhearted, talented, admired, unforgettable, fun-loving, funny, wonderful, well-loved, lovely, sweet, generous, one-of-a-kind, one-in-a-million, honorable, respected, caring, hardworking, strong, energetic, happy.

Offer to Help 

If you’re in a position to help your recipient with arrangements, meals, housework, yard work, childcare or something else, then feel free to include an offer to do so as part of your message. Just be sure to follow up and follow through.


  • “I know I can’t make your pain go away, but I want you to know I’m here with a shoulder or an ear or anything else you need.”
  • “Thinking of your family with love and wanting to help out in any way I can. I’ll call to see when would be a good night to bring over a meal.”
  • “You’ve got so much on your mind and on your heart right now. We hope it will make one less worry to know that Kevin and I will be taking care of the yard for as long as you need.”
  • “I know this must be a very difficult and demanding time for you all. We are keeping you in our thoughts and prayers. If there is anything we can do—from walking Max to picking up your dry cleaning, please let us know.”
  • “It’s so important to get your rest. I’ll take the kids for a couple of hours whenever you need time to sit quietly.”
  • “Sé que no puedo desaparecer el dolor que estás sintiendo, pero aquí estoy para lo que necesites.”

Writing tip: In general, the more specific your offer of help, the better. And no task is too small.

Following Up 

When someone you know is grieving, you might want to offer ongoing messages of support in the weeks and months following the loss of their loved one. You can send these cards to note an occasion like the loved one’s birthday, a wedding anniversary, holidays or any other time when the grieving person may need extra support.


  • “It’s been a while, but I know that the hurt doesn’t go away when the cards and casseroles do. I’m still here for you.”
  • “Just wanted to let you know we’re remembering your mom on her birthday and sending lots of caring thoughts your way.”
  • “I know Christmas won’t be the same without DeMarcus, but I hope it helps a little to know that you’re in my thoughts and prayers, especially through the holidays.”
  • “Hard to believe it’s been a year since we said good-bye to Noah. Couldn’t let this anniversary go by without letting you know that I’m thinking of you.”
  • “This Kwanzaa season, there is a new ancestor to honor. Thinking of you, your mother and your family as you light the kinara.”
  • “Solo quería que supieras que sigo pensando en ti y en tu familia.”

Writing tip: You will find some cards specific to sympathy follow-up, but you might also choose to go with an encouragement or thinking-of-you card, or a blank card with a beautiful or lighthearted photo on the cover, depending on the tone you’re going for.

Sudden or Unexpected Death 

It’s never easy to lose someone we love. But often, a loss that no one saw coming can lead to complicated grief. This might be because of the deceased’s young age or apparent good health or an accident or other tragic circumstances. Whatever the case, these kinds of losses call for additional comfort, understanding and ongoing support.


  • Words Fail: “I’m not sure what to say in the face of such a difficult loss. Just want you to know that I care about you, and I share in your sadness.”
  • Acknowledging Unexpectedness: “We were surprised and saddened to hear about Mike’s passing. He was such a good guy. We’re going to miss him so much, too.”
  • I’m Sorry: “I’m deeply sorry your family is experiencing the pain of a loss like this. My heart goes out to each of you.”
  • This Is Especially Hard: “We never would have felt ready to say good-bye to someone as special as Christina, but this timing feels especially tough. Wishing your family comfort and strength for the days and weeks ahead. We’ll be praying for all of you.”
  • Wishes/Prayers: “Keeping you in my warmest thoughts as you navigate this difficult time—and wishing you hope and healing when you’re ready.”
  • I’m Here for You: “It’s going to take time to get through the shock of this loss. Just want you to know we’ll be here for you all the way.”
  • Ongoing Support: “Hey, I know it’s been a couple of months since you lost Ernesto. Just want you to know I haven’t forgotten. I’m still thinking about you. And I’m here to help out, listen, whatever you need.”
  • Cuando no encuentras las palabras adecuadas: “Ojalá supiera qué decirte ante esta pérdida tan inesperada… Pero lo que sí quiero que sepas es que lo siento mucho.”

Pro Tip: If everything you try to write feels wrong or awkward, then keep your message short. The simple act of sending a card communicates caring—even if you simply sign it “With deepest sympathy” followed by your name.

When Someone Has Died by Suicide 

Losing a loved one to suicide is devastating, and the isolation that can result from others not knowing what to say or how to support has its own sting. Making the effort to connect is an important first step. Offer your sincere condolences without questions and without judgment.


  • Loss of Close Friend: “Trey was such a dear and loyal friend. He made an incredible impact on me and I will miss him so much. All my thoughts are with you and your family.”
  • Loss of Family Member of Close Friend: “Friend, there are no words for something as heartbreaking as this. I wish you didn’t have to know this pain. Call me any time, day or night, and I’ll be checking in with you through the days and weeks to come.”
  • Unintentional (e.g. overdose): “I know how hard your sibling was struggling and how much your family has been through, and I’m so sorry this happened.”
  • Military/PTSD: “Your family has served this country with courage and honor. You have so much to be proud of. I hope that can bring you some comfort in your heartache.”
  • “It’s not fair that PTSD took someone who already gave so much of himself/herself to others. It shouldn’t be this way. I hope that you feel surrounded by love and support every step of this journey.”
  • Young Person: “I’m still stunned about Ramesh. I can’t imagine what such a loving family like yours is going through right now. Ramesh really shone his light when he was here. I loved that about him. He will be remembered and loved always.”
  • LGBTQ: “Kai was 100% themselves, and I loved that about them. Their self-assuredness is something that will always inspire me even as I miss them so much. If you ever want to share memories and stories, I’m here.”
  • En este momento tan difícil de entender.
  • Pérdida de un familiar o amigo: “No puedo imaginar lo que están sintiendo en este momento tan difícil de entender, pero espero que tú y tu familia encuentren paz y consuelo en los gratos recuerdos de su ser amado. Los acompaño en su dolor.”

Writing Tips: Acknowledge that the topic of suicide is very sensitive, and the recipient may have many complicated feelings. It’s important not to share your opinions on suicide and instead be supportive of the person grieving and however they are experiencing grief.

Language Note: In being compassionate toward people whose lives have been impacted by suicide, it is important to avoid terms like “committing suicide,” which can evoke feelings of guilt and blame. Instead, say “died of suicide” or “died by suicide.”

What to write in a sympathy card for a friend who is grieving

A note of condolence doesn’t need to be a work of literature. There are no magic words that can rescue someone from grief. The important thing is that you reached out and said something. 

As you write, you should focus on the person you’re writing to and on the person who has died, if you knew them. Here are a few ideas for what to put in a sympathy card:

  • “I’m deeply sorry for your loss.”
  • “(Name) was a kind and generous person and we’ll miss them very much.”
  • “I’ll always remember how (Name) would / when (Name) and I went to / decided to…” – Happy memories can make great sympathy card messages.
  • “I want you to know that I’m always here for you. If you need a listening ear, I’m only a phone call away.” – Offers of support are important! Try to be specific – grief makes it very difficult for people to just reach out.
  • “My thoughts are with you and your family.”

Sympathy card messages for the loss of a mother or father

The loss of a parent can hit very hard. Leading with “It’s never easy to lose a parent” is often very comforting for the person reading. Here are a few more words for sympathy cards after a parent’s death:

  • “I could always tell from your stories that (Name) was an amazing person.”
  • “(Name) must have been a wonderful parent to have raised someone as brilliant as you.” – This is a good way to add a personal note to the message if you never met the person who’s died.
  • “(Name) was loved by everyone in the community, and we’ll miss him/her terribly.”
  • “My deepest condolences to you and your family. Your dad/mum had a way of making any day brighter. He/she will be deeply missed.”
  • “I’m so sorry that you’ve lost your mum/dad. (Name) was such a kind and generous soul. I can’t imagine how you must be feeling.” 
  • “I’ll always treasure the time I spent with (Name). I remember when…” – Go on to talk a little more about a specific, positive memory.
  • “I’ll be thinking of you and…” – If the recipient has siblings and/or a surviving parent, do acknowledge them in your message.

What to say in a sympathy card for the loss of a spouse

  • “What a wonderful life you two shared together. I know you must miss (Name) terribly. Just know that I’m here for you if you need anything at all.”
  • “You and (Name) shared a bond that will last forever. I’ve never met two people so clearly and deeply in love. I can only imagine how you must be feeling.” – Paying tribute to the relationship is especially important in this case.
  • “(Name) was a dear friend. His/her kindness and high spirits are things I’ll never forget.”
  • “I wish you and (Children’s Names) strength in this difficult time.” – If the couple had children, it’s good to acknowledge their loss too.
  • “If your children would like to spend some time with mine, I’d love to have them over for tea.” – A grieving and newly-single parent of young children might appreciate a little time alone to process their feelings.

Messages of condolence for the loss of a child

Losing a child is one of the worst things any parent can experience. This is one of the few times “words cannot describe…” might be appropriate. Here are a few more suggestions:

  • “I know there isn’t anything I could say to make this moment less painful. Just know that I’m here for you.”
  • “I could see your determination in (Name).” – If you didn’t know the child, this is a way to say something positive.
  • “You taught (Name) to be…”
  • “There are no words for the terrible loss you have suffered. Our thoughts are with you both. If you need anything at all…”
  • “(Name) was such a lovely, kind-hearted little boy/girl. We can’t imagine how you must be feeling. But if you ever need to talk, our door is always open.”
  • “(Name) brought so much joy into the world.” 
  • “I’ll never forget (name)’s beautiful piano playing.” – You may want to note any talents the child had and anything special they may have accomplished.

Words for sympathy cards when a co-worker has died

If you worked with someone, you probably have memories of them that their family would love to hear. Keep this in mind when writing a sympathy card to their loved ones.

  • “It was a real pleasure to work with (name).” – Acknowledge this person’s hard work.
  • “(Name) was a joy to work with, and will be sorely missed by everyone in the team.” 
  • “(Name) had a way of making every working day better. His/her jokes (and baking) brought a smile to the faces of everyone in the office.”
  • “I’ll never forget the time when (Name)…” – Try to include a positive anecdote about something you did together at work. This is an opportunity for their loved ones to learn a new great thing about them.
  • “(Name) wasn’t just a colleague – they were a friend, too.”
  • “We’ll always think of (name) when…”

Words to write in a sympathy card when a pet has died

People often tend to dismiss the death of a pet, so having grief validated is very comforting.

  • “I know (name) was precious to you.” 
  • “(Name) was one of a kind.” – It’s easy for people to say “you can always get another pet”, and the recipient will appreciate some understanding that pets aren’t that replaceable.
  • “Losing a pet is like losing one of the family. I know you’ll miss (Name) terribly.”
  • “(Name) was so sweet and obviously adored you as much as you loved her.”
  • “I’ll miss the sound of (name)’s running paws when I come to visit.”

How to sign a sympathy card

When it comes to signing a sympathy card, the standard is “with deepest sympathy”. If that sounds a little impersonal to you, here are a few other sign-offs you could try:

  • “With all my love.”
  • “Wishing you strength.”
  • “Thinking of you.”
  • “Wishing you peace.”


Sympathy messages are all about expressing your condolence to the one who is suffering from some sad event in their life. Sympathy messages are messages that are specifically written with the intention of comforting the hearts of those who are undergoing some sad time in their lives.

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