Writing A Sympathy Greeting Card and Letter
I’ve written hundreds of sympathy greeting cards by hand.
Messages from loved ones to their grieving friends and family. Here are some vetted tips:
- Sign Your Last Name | Not signing your last name is a simple oversight that creates more work for the griever. Imagine the shock of suddenly losing someone, receiving copious amounts of sympathy cards, then not being in the right mind to know who this Susan is. These cards will be kept for years as keepsakes and could be passed down a generation. Will their kids know who you are? Your relationship with the griever might have changed and a simple ‘from Ken’ might get you forgotten. If you aren’t 100% sure they know who you are, write your relationship to them. i.e. Dave’s coworker at Main Street Company.
- Include the Name of the Deceased | “So sorry for the loss of your best friend, Megan,” sounds a lot better than just “your loss.” Using the deceased person’s name brings validation to your relationship with the griever. You understand who is lost and therefore acknowledge the pain.
- Don’t Fix | It’ll get better is a phrase that no one wants to hear, especially at the start of grief. How will it get better? Will you bring her husband back to life? Leave it out. Stay strong, Chin up is saying that he shouldn’t feel sad, that strength will fix the pain. Grief is not something that needs fixing.
- Stay Away From Platitudes | “Every cloud has a silver lining.” This statement might make you feel better, not them. They don’t want to feel better. They want their loved one back. It makes them feel like they shouldn’t be sad.
- Length Does Not Matter | Short and sweet wins again. ‘Sorry for your loss, thinking of you, our condolences,’ are all fine. You’re not trying to win a Pulitzer Prize.
- Should I Include Scripture? | If you know they are not religious, leave it out. It can come across as dismissive. If they are religious, it can be very helpful.
- Saying “I don’t know what to say,” is perfectly fine. | “I don’t know what to say. I love you.’”
- Don’t Promise | If you can’t show up for the entire year (calling, texting, ringing the doorbell, bringing food, giving the hugs, etc.) then don’t promise “I am here for you always.” Showing it is better than saying it once in a greeting card.
- Send More Than One | Not sending more than one sympathy greeting card is the biggest mistake. Everyone will be sending cards right after the news. Sending a second or third card a month later will get noticed and make the griever feel remembered.