What to write on a sympathy card
Writing a sympathy card isn’t easy. Naturally, you worry about saying the wrong thing, and upsetting our friend or relation at an already difficult time. Feeling this way is perfectly normal, but even the briefest message can mean a lot and comfort the bereaved person, so it's always worth making the effort.
Before you start, take a moment to think about the beliefs and opinions of the person who’s died – and the bereaved. You may not share these beliefs, but it's important not to write anything that might belittle or clash with them.
If you have happy memories of time spent with the deceased, occasions when they showed you kindness or friendship, or simply when they made you laugh, mention these. If you hardly knew them, or even disliked them, opt for more general messages of sympathy, like some of those listed below.
Messages of sympathy
Here are some short but heartfelt messages if you want to keep it simple:
- I am/We are thinking of you <and your family> with much love during this sad time.
- <Name> was an amazing person and will leave an enormous gap in our lives.
- I remember many good times we shared over the years. We will all miss <Name> so much.
- Nothing can make up for losing a loved one, but please remember your friends are here if you need to talk or want company.
- Please let me know if there is any way I can help you.
Sympathy messages for the loss of a husband, wife or partner
Losing a spouse or partner is one of the most heart-breaking things that can happen to anyone. It leaves the remaining partner feeling utterly bereft, lost and alone. That's why you need to let them know that you’re there to support and help them.
Here are some suggestions:
- <Name> was such a wonderful husband/wife/partner, and we will all miss her/him dreadfully.
- Of course, nobody could replace <Name>, but I am here for you whenever you need me.
- I am thinking about you and I'm just a phone call away if you need me.
- My thoughts are with you. Please let me know if I can help in any way.
- I know your love for <Name> will last forever, and I will always think of you as such a happy couple
Sympathy messages for the loss of a mother
The relationship between mother and child is very special. Losing a mother who has been a support and comfort all one's life can be devastating. Here are some suggestions for kind words to share in a sympathy card:
If you were close to their mother:
- Your mother was so kind, generous and loving. She always welcomed me so warmly that I felt like one of your family.
- I've never met anyone like your mother. She was an inspiration to me.
- Your mother was the kind of woman I've always aspired to be.
If you hardly knew them:
- I know you were very close to your mother and will miss her terribly.
- There’s no other relationship like the one between mother and daughter/son. You must be missing her dreadfully.
- She will always live on in your heart.
- I know she was a wonderful person and meant so much to you. I wish I’d known her.
Sympathy messages for the loss of a father
A father is also a very strong influence on their children's lives. Writing a sympathy card is an opportunity to recall occasions in a late father's life, or remember how interesting, dynamic or funny they were. Here are a few suggestions:
If you were close to their father:
- Your father was so generous/fascinating/clever/funny. People always wanted to be his friend.
- Your father was a true gentleman and a friend in need. I was proud to be his friend/relation.
- Your dear father watched over you all your life and I believe he's watching over you now.
- Your amazing father was always the life and soul of the party. He made me laugh until I cried.
If you hardly knew him:
- I know you will miss your father terribly and there will never be anybody else like him.
- If you need to talk about your father, do get in touch. I will always be happy to listen.
- I know how much you loved your father, and you were always such a loving daughter/son.
- I'm sure he must have appreciated your kindness and devotion at the end of his life.
Sympathy messages for the loss of a child
This is surely the worst thing that could happen to any parent. It’s impossible to imagine how it might feel, so it's almost equally impossible to find the right words. Nothing you write could mend a parent's broken heart – but this is also the time when they need as much love and support as you can give:
- I/we can’t begin to understand the pain you’re going through. We can only send you all our love and let you know I'm/we're here for you whatever you need.
- You’re in my heart/our hearts at this terrible time. I/We’ll never forget <Name> and how much you loved her/him.
- <Name> was a joy and inspiration. I/We will miss her/him profoundly.
- Nobody will ever take <Name's> place – she/he was so much loved by everyone who knew her/him.
- My heart is breaking for you. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to make your life just even a little bit easier.
Sympathy messages for the loss of a sister or brother
The loss of a sibling can hit especially hard. This is someone your relative or friend shared their childhood with and is often the person who knows them better than anyone else. As well as being a sibling, they may also have been a best friend. A few well-chosen words of condolence can help comfort and buffer their loss just a little:
- You and your family are in my heart and in my thoughts. My sincere condolences on the death of your sister/brother.
- Your sister/brother was one of the kindest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. I’m deeply sorry for your loss.
- I never knew your sister/brother, but I can only imagine the pain that you’re going through. Please accept my sincerest condolences as you go through this tough time.
- Your sister/brother may have passed, but her/his memory will always be in my heart and on my mind. She/he was and is loved, and I’m extremely sorry for your loss.
- The impact she/he made in the lives of those around her/him, is a testament to the kind of person she/he was.
- I have no words that will make you feel any better because I know that this is an incredibly difficult time for you. Please reach out should you have any need for anything.
Sympathy messages for the loss of a friend
Sadness at the death of a friend can be compounded by being outside of the immediate family. However, their grief is no less overwhelming. It's important to let them know that you understand the importance of their loss, and that they don't need to be related to someone to mourn for them. Here are some suggestions:
- I’m so sorry to hear about <Name>. If you need to talk, please get in touch and I’ll be happy to listen.
- I know you will miss <Name> very much. You were a true friend to her/him.
- I know <Name> will leave a huge gap in your life. Please remember I’m here for you if you need me.
- You and <Name> were such wonderful friends. I know you will miss her/him dreadfully.
- I/We will miss seeing you together and spending time with you both.
Sympathy messages for the loss of a pet
Pets are a huge part of their owner's or family's life and are missed and mourned deeply. Often their owner's grief is made worse by having to make the decision to have their beloved companion put down. It’s important to let your friend know that you take their grief seriously.
Here are some suggestions:
- I’m so sorry to hear about <Name>. You loved her/him and gave her/him a happy life and a beautiful home – no one could have done more.
- <Name> will live on in your heart and in your memories of happy times together.
- We’ll miss seeing <Name> with you, having fun and cuddles.
- <Name> loved you so much. I/We know you’ll miss her/him very much.
Short and simple is fine
It's better to keep your message short and sincere than to write flowery sentiments that don't ring true. Use our suggestions as a base and change them to fit your own feelings. Let your friend or relative know that you care, and that you're there for them when they need you. You don't need to be Shakespeare – just yourself.
We hope you found this article helpful. We’ve also put together some pointers on writing a eulogy. Our aim is always to make the practical aspects of funeral planning and losing someone close, just that little bit easier.