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How to Write a Meaningful Sympathy Note

How to Write a Meaningful Sympathy Note


Since we introduced our red cardinal ornament to our collection last year, we've been told by our customers time and time again that they were buying this as a gift for a grieving friend or family member.

It's said that when you see a red cardinal, it's a symbol from your lost loved ones - serving as a gentle reminder that we are always in the presence of those that have gone before us. This significance behind the red cardinal is a powerful one - and one that rings true to our team members too. 

With so many of our red cardinals being purchased as sympathy gifts or as a small token for friends who are grieving, we wanted to touch on a related subject that we are often asked about - sympathy notes. We looked to Dallas blogger Lee Cordon of DoSayGive, who shares the following tips and example of how to write a proper sympathy note:

The key to sympathy cards, unless it’s a really close friend, is to keep it short and sincere. The grieving party is probably not ready for anything more than that. Your purpose in writing a sympathy card is not to console, but to simply give your condolences.  

Here are things that a proper sympathy card should say:

- Give sympathy for the loss of their loved one
- Acknowledge what a special person he/she was
- If possible, recall a memory of this person
- As generic as it might be, remind them they are in your thoughts or prayers.

Need an example? Here’s one:

Dear Julie,  I am so sorry about the passing of your sweet father. My heart just breaks for you and your family. I know you and your dad shared a special bond, with memories you will carry for the rest of your life.  You will be in my prayers during this difficult time.  Love,  (Sign name)

In addition to Lee's tips, here are a few other things to keep in mind:

  • Pick a simple card
    - It may be tempting to pick up a Hallmark card with a long, flowing poem, but a simple card with a more personalized message will mean more to the recipient. We designed our dove notecards with Alexa Pulitzer specifically for this purpose - they're beautiful, but include enough space to write a meaningful message.
  • Handwrite your message
    - Even if you have bad handwriting, even if you are out of stamps, even if you haven't handwritten a card in years.. do it now. This is the proper time and place to send a handwritten note.
  • Offer something specific
    - All too often, we say "Let me know if there's anything you need," but to a grieving person this isn't helpful. Instead, offer your help in specific ways to make their lives easier in this tough time - offer to watch their children, pick up groceries, or bring meals.

How do you show support and love to friends and family who are grieving?

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