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How to Write a Sympathy Card

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How to Write a Sympathy Card - Words of Sympathy

When we hear the news of someone's passing, whether family, friend, or acquaintance, we are often moved to send our condolences in the form of a sympathy card. Even though etiquette says we should send a card immediately this is often the most difficult time to write, since the pain of loss is so new. Here, we offer some tips on how to express your condolences in the most sensitive and loving way.

Getting Started Writing a Sympathy Card

In today's electronic age some people are using e-mail cards as an alternative to the traditional sympathy card. While this has come to be accepted, sending a handwritten letter on personal stationary or an appropriate card is still preferred. Paper cards or letters can be collected and put into a keepsake album or box, or left on display at the grieving person's home as a source of comfort. The specially selected card gives added depth to your expression of condolence. Humorous cards are not recommended as sympathy cards.

What to Say in a Sympathy Card.

The hardest part of sending a sympathy card is that words do not convey well the depths of comfort you wish to send your family, friends, or acquaintances during their time of sorrow. We want to sound genuine but find it hard not to rely on clichés.
1. There is no need for a lengthy explanation for why you are writing. A simple introduction is all that is needed.
2. Express your condolences. It is appropriate to refer to the person's death as a "loss."
3. Don't be afraid to share a short story or memory you have about the deceased. This will let the recipient know how much their loved one meant to you - and maybe give them a reason to laugh or smile. It is also appropriate to write about how much the person meant to you and that they will be missed.
4. If a person's passing comes at the end of a long period of suffering or illness, it is appropriate to acknowledge the illness.
5. If you would like to offer some assistance, don't be afraid to offer. Don't leave the offer open-ended, however. Give specific ways you would be willing to help.
6. Pick an appropriate and sincere phrase to sum up your feelings and end the card. There are a variety of closing phrases from which to choose:

What Not to Say in a Sympathy Card

When we experience the death of a friend or loved one, we often feel vulnerable and may become more sensitive to words and actions of those around us. Choose your words carefully so that the card you send does not cause any further hurt to those already grieving.

After the Funeral

After the loss of a loved one depression is a common occurrence. Memories and a feeling of loneliness can become overwhelming, especially around special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, or even Thanksgiving and Christmas. After you send someone a sympathy card it is important to stay in touch. You may want to follow up with a phone call or a visit. If they are not ready for visitors, try again a little later. Send some flowers or a simple "Thinking of You" card. Invite them to join your family for holiday meals. On the anniversary of the person's death don't be afraid to make another donation to their favorite charity, arrange for flowers for the gravesite, or send a remembrance card. You can be sure your remembrance of the day will be appreciated.