Death is a tricky subject to navigate. What’s the right thing to say when someone is grieving the loss of a family member or friend? Whether you knew the person or not, when figuring out what to write in a sympathy card, it’s important to reflect on the weight of your words.

Acknowledge the family’s feelings, share memories of their loved one, or express your feelings about how the deceased person was there for you. It’s hard to know what to say … but say something. Let the family know that their loved one will be remembered by you.

To make things a little easier, we’ve put together a list of ideas on conveying condolences. When sending your kind words, keep these guidelines on how to write a sympathy card in mind:

  • Offer your condolences.
  • Consider the struggle and emotions of the recipient.
  • Describe a fond memory.
  • Extend your ongoing support and willingness to help.

Here are some example sympathy card messages to help you get started:

  • I was so sorry to hear about your loss. XXX was a good friend and I cherished my time with him.
  • Thinking of you during this time of sorrow. I can’t imagine the pain of such a loss, and want to offer my deepest condolences for the loss of XXX.
  • Your family will be in my thoughts and prayers today and in the coming weeks and months. I will bring a meal over to your house this week, but please don’t hesitate to call if you need anything.
  • The world is a little less bright without the presence of your mother/father/brother/sister/grandparent. 
  • We were shocked and saddened to hear of XXX’s passing. She lived every day to the fullest, and all who knew her will miss her.
  • Wishing you peace and comfort in this difficult time. I always thought of XXX as a second father because he made me feel welcome in his home all these years.
  • There’s nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said, but you have my deepest sympathies. The passing of XXX is a true loss, not only to your family, but to the community. Wishing you love, light, and peace.