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What to Write on a Sympathy Card or Online Memorial

Handwritten sympathy cards are meaningful to the recipient for many years to come.   These are some of the many cards I received when my mother passed away in 2005.  Source:  Sharyn's Slant

Handwritten sympathy cards are meaningful to the recipient for many years to come. These are some of the many cards I received when my mother passed away in 2005. Source: Sharyn's Slant

How to Write Meaningful Condolences

It can be an extremely challenging time when someone you know and care about passes away. Expressions of sympathy differ from culture to culture, although a common response is to at least send a sympathy card and/or write a post to an online memorial. But how do you put your thoughts and feelings into words?

What you wish to say in writing on a sympathy card or an online memorial can be extremely difficult to compose. The following article is designed to help readers understand the importance of sharing their condolences and assist in creating a meaningful sentiment.

Other Reasons to Send a Sympathy Card

A sympathy card can also be sent for reasons other than someone passing away. You may wish to comfort a grieving friend or family member who has experienced a misfortune such as:

  • Loss of a beloved pet
  • Loss of a job
  • Loss of a home
  • Serious illness or disability
  • Divorce

Sending a Sympathy Card

When you offer your condolences through sending a sympathy card, you are telling the person who has lost a loved one that you care about them, support them and are thinking about them. You are offering comfort during their time of grief.

From personal experience, I can tell you that receiving sympathy cards is extremely meaningful. For me, they are a significant piece of the healing process during a time of grieving and also many years later; the cards are special mementos that I can touch as I revisit the heartfelt words from time to time. Remembering the support received from others is a special gift that I have cherished.

Trying to put your thoughts and feelings into written words can be quite difficult.

Trying to put your thoughts and feelings into written words can be quite difficult.

Posting a Sympathy Message to an Online Memorial

Although sympathy cards continue to have a special purpose for many people, online memorials are becoming more and more customary.

Writing your thoughts and posting to an online memorial page can be viewed immediately by anyone. It is an instant and convenient way to share your feelings with others.

But it can be a daunting task trying to decide what to say. There are many ideas below that will help you get started.

Did you know?

When you type “online memorial websites” into a Google search, you will find approximately 78,400,000 results. That’s 78 MILLION!

Source:  Sharyn's Slant

Source: Sharyn's Slant

Is It Acceptable to Simply Sign a Pre-Made Sympathy Card?

Yes, of course. Many sympathy cards have very nice sayings already pre-printed inside.

Yet even just a few handwritten words from you will add a deeper meaning to your sentiment. And it will be received as much more personal and heartfelt from you.

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Sample Wording to Write on a Sympathy Card or Online Memorial

As you write your feelings on a sympathy card or online memorial, you want to make sure that the words you utilize are those that would actually be spoken by you. You don’t want to write something that is unlike you because it will come across as impersonal. Choose your wording wisely.

Here are 20 examples to get you started. Feel free to include a story about the deceased and/or mention their special qualities that you hope will be remembered about them.

Browse the samples to choose what wording works best to convey your thoughts and feelings.

  1. Although no words can take away the loss that you feel, please find comfort in knowing that there are so many that care about you. I am here, always, if you need me.
  2. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I can only hope that time will bring you comfort and help to heal your sorrow.
  3. May you find strength in the love all around you and comfort in all the wonderful memories.
  4. It’s so hard to find the right words to write at a time like this. I hope that so many thoughts and prayers you are receiving will help to ease your pain.
  5. The sudden loss of __________ proves that life is so fragile and we may not understand why things happen the way they do. I am here for you my friend and will help you through this tragedy.
  6. I want you to know how sincerely sorry I am that you must go through this sorrow. I truly cannot begin to understand your loss. But I will do my best to help you through this because I love you.
  7. Please hold on tight to all your memories and lean on me and others for strength. Always remember how much you are cared about.
  8. Some people spend their life servings others and __________ did just that. I am truly thankful to have known him/her.
  9. __________ brought so many gifts into our lives. I will never forget.
  10. I feel comforted in knowing __________ is no longer suffering. I hope you will also feel this peace.
  11. It’s difficult to come up with just the right words to let you know how sad I am that you are going through this grief. I am here to support you in any way I can.
  12. Please accept my most heartfelt sympathies for your loss. I am holding you close in thought and prayer during this difficult time.
  13. Sometimes life can seem extremely unfair. I am so sorry you are going through this tragedy in your life. My sincere condolences.
  14. I have many cherished memories that I will never forget. The world has lost someone so very special.
  15. I am devastated that you are going through such heartbreak. I wish there was something I could possibly say that would ease your pain at this time.
  16. May the love the two of you shared continue to radiate in your heart. Please take care of yourself.
  17. I can’t stop thinking about you and all that you are going through. I am here, anytime day or night, if you need me.
  18. May the comfort from others in this time of sorrow support you and help you to see ~ what a difference one life has made to so many, what a blessing one person could be.
  19. I am honored and will never forget what a source of inspiration __________ was to me. Please accept my sincere condolences to you and your entire family.
  20. I am deeply sorry to hear about the death of __________. Please let me know if there is anything, seriously anything, I can do to help.
A handwritten sympathy card or letter is extremely meaningful when someone loses a beloved pet.

A handwritten sympathy card or letter is extremely meaningful when someone loses a beloved pet.

Death of a Pet

It is quite common for people to grieve the death of a pet similar to the heartache of losing a precious family member.

Recognizing their loss is an extremely kind gesture. Here are a couple ideas on what to write in a sympathy card for the loss of a pet.

  1. I was so sad to hear the news that __________ passed away. I know how much you loved him/her, and I could only imagine how lost you feel. Please know that you are in my thoughts. I will miss __________ too.
  2. You and __________ have been best friends for a very long time. I know he/she was such a great companion and there for you during some extremely rough times. How fortunate you were to have each other. I am so sorry for your loss.

What is Your Preference?

Closing Words on Your Sympathy Message

It’s important to end your message with words that are meaningful, sincere and express your true feelings. Here are some ideas for you to use:

  • You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers
  • Thinking of you often
  • I share in your grief and send my love
  • With heartfelt condolences
  • __________ will never be forgotten
  • I am here for you my friend
  • With deepest sympathy
  • You will remain in my thoughts
  • May you continue to be comforted by beautiful memories
  • My sincere sympathy
  • The memory of __________ will remain in my heart forever
  • Praying for your comfort during this difficult time
  • May your heart find peace and comfort
  • Never hesitate to contact me anytime

And of course, be sure to sign your name.

This is Sharyn's Slant


Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on June 19, 2020:

Hi Farrah, It definitely can be hard. Great to take the time to let it sit until the words come and it feels right. Thank you so much for your feedback!

Farrah Young from Lagos, Nigeria on June 16, 2020:

It can sometimes be a little hard coming up with the right message to comfort someone who just lost a loved one. I faced this situation recently and it took me several days to finally get it right.

These pre-written sympathy words you've written are great and will help a lot of people.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 17, 2016:

Awwww, thank you HLJ for your sweet comment. It can be difficult to know what to say. So glad you appreciate it.

Kawai from Singapore on February 17, 2016:

This is so useful! Glad I don't have to write on such cards often but when I do I am always stuck at what to say. Thank you so much.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on July 22, 2015:

Very nice! Both of my sisters dogs (2 out of 4) died suddenly within 1 day of each other. We are still awaiting results. The vet sent out the dog food for testing since that was the only common denominator.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on July 22, 2015:

Oh, how nice! Our vet does that for "special" patients who have been regular, if too-frequent visitors at the vet. We got just such a nice pawprint, hung from a pretty ribbon when we lost our little black kitty to a mystery illness at only at 4-1/2. Every test was negative, and there seemed no reason she should have passed. The vet even did a no-charge necropsy out of "professional curiosity" to try and determine what had taken kitty's life. Still nothing came to light. But she had a soft spot for our little Soot, and made the pawprint for us. So sweet.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on July 22, 2015:

That is awesome customer service. My sister recently had two of her dogs put to sleep and the vet hospital sent paw prints engraved in clay with their names engraved too. Such a nice gesture!

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on July 22, 2015:

P.S. Our vet always sends out sympathy cards on the loss of a pet, signed by all the staff. (Even when we had to make the tough decision to have an elderly, ill kitty helped across the Rainbow Bridge.)

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on July 22, 2015:

Thank you so much Ms. Lizzy! As an active member of a local rescue group, I run in to the same thing often with friends losing their beloved pets. I always try to make my condolences personal and heartfelt knowing that it means so much to the receiver. I appreciate your wonderful comments!


Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on July 22, 2015:

I belong to a group on Face Book called "Rainbow Bridge Cats." It is an online memorial page for folks who have lost their beloved kitties. (There is one for dogs as well.)

Even though most of the people there do not actually know any of the others, it is amazing the great number of posts expressing sympathy are placed each time a new pet is listed. And believe me, given that FB has a worldwide audience, this can be several times a day!

I cannot, of course, reply to each and every post, but on the ones I do, I write a sentiment along these lines:

"I am so very sorry to learn of the loss of your precious _______. May (s/he) run free across the Rainbow Bridge, and may you find peace in happy memories."

For a human, I'd change it up a bit, to something more like:

"My sincere condolences on the loss of your (wife/husband/other relative or friend) _______. May (s/he) rest in peace, and may you find strength and comfort in happy memories.

As a non-believer, I avoid any mention of prayers or deities, but I don't believe those are absolutely necessary components of a sympathy message. What matters is that it is personal and heartfelt.

Voted up, awesome, useful and beautiful.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on July 22, 2015:

Hi Peg ~ I agree. And sometimes we need to read those words at a later time and they comfort us again as well. Thanks so much for your comments.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on July 22, 2015:

These beautiful thoughts written on a card can bring such a sense of comfort to us when we need them most. And the message is so deeply important. I remember when my beloved pet died that I received two cards from the two vets who had treated her. One left me rather unmoved in its stiff message. The other one brought me to tears with its heartfelt message.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on April 18, 2013:

Hi Marcy ~ great to see you! I agree, even writers get "tongue-tied." You want your words to be perfect and meaningful and it can be very stressful coming up with the right thing to say. Thank you so much for your feedback.