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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.

what-to-write-on-a-sympathy-card
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!

what-to-write-on-a-sympathy-card
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.

what-to-write-on-a-sympathy-card

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.
what-to-write-on-a-sympathy-card
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-to-write-on-a-sympathy-card

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

Comments

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!

Sharyn

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 Northeast of 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.

Sharyn

Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on April 18, 2013:

What a tender topic - and so needed. Too often, when someone we know has suffered the loss of a loved one, our 'fingers' get tongue-tied and we don't know what to say. Thanks for these great ideas.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on December 18, 2012:

Thank you CC! I appreciate your compliments.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on December 18, 2012:

Hi Kelley ~ thank you. Isn't it funny how writer's have a difficult time knowing what to write on a sympathy card. Thank you for voting and sharing. Have a great holiday!

Sharyn

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on December 17, 2012:

Beautiful hub. I know so many people can benefit from an article like this, especially around the holidays. You're always writing such thoughtful things like this. You're amazing. :)

kelleyward on December 17, 2012:

What a useful hub Sharyn! I always have difficulty with what to write on sympathy cards. I'm bookmarking and sharing this one! Voted up! Kelley

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on September 08, 2012:

Hi Mighty Mom ~ aw, I'm so sorry to hear about someone in HP's father passing away. I really appreciate this hub being shared. Thank you so much for your kind comments. It's true, being a writer doesn't mean it is easy to come up with the right words at a time like this. I hope some found it useful. I'm glad you stopped by, thank you.

Sharyn

Susan Reid from Where Left is Right, CA on September 08, 2012:

Your hub was linked to in a forum thread helping a hubber support a friend who has just lost her beloved father unexpectedly. What a gem of a hub this is, too.

The word that comes to my mind is EMPATHY. You bring together the personal experience of receiving cards (what helped you in your time of grief) with a diversity of message options.

As someone above said, being a writer does not make it any easier to write a sympathy note! For those who don't know how to put their feelings into words (and even those of us who usually have no problem in this area!) you've provided a very useful guide.

Voted up! MM

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on August 14, 2012:

Hi Terrie ~ It is amazing how difficult it can be to come up with the right words in a situation like this. I am so glad you appreciated this. Thank you so much for your kind comments.

Sharyn

summerberrie on August 14, 2012:

Thanks Sharyn's Slant for writing this one. I'm saving it. It is amazing how difficult it is writing notes of sympathy. However, I do remember over the years the sympathy cards I've received and how meaningful they were to me. Thanks for taking the anxiety and second guessing out of what to write with your beautiful suggestions as well as an healthy dose of encouragement.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on July 28, 2012:

Hi Brenda ~ Thank you for such a sweet comment. I do like writing on helpful topics such as this. Thank you for stopping by.

Sharyn

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on July 28, 2012:

Hello Dr. BJ ~ Thank you so much for the compliments. I hope these sample ideas help those that may be at a loss for words. I appreciate your feedback.

Sharyn

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on July 28, 2012:

Hi tillsontitan ~ Thank you so much for the compliments and votes. Very much appreciated!

Sharyn

Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on July 28, 2012:

You always offer such great and thoughtful advice. This is an area where one needs to be personal. Your suggestions can help many people who are wondering what to write. I love your heart Sharyn.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on July 27, 2012:

Hey Josh ~ I am so glad you found this hub useful. It is difficult during times of grief to come up with the proper words to write on a sympathy card. I appreciate your feedback.

Sharyn

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on July 27, 2012:

Hello Rui Carreira ~ It's great to meet you. Thank you so much for your feedback and votes.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on July 27, 2012:

Hi Billy ~ It certainly can be difficult. I'm glad you found this useful. Thanks for stopping by.

Sharyn

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on July 27, 2012:

Hello That Grrl ~ Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving feedback.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on July 26, 2012:

Kelly ~ Absolutely, I could understand how you felt. And what you just went through was so unexpected and certainly is cause for a loss of words. But many writers feel the same way, that when we are in need of writing something like a sympathy card, we draw a blank. I think it has a lot to do with feeling that our words should be "perfect" and therefore, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. I am sure that whatever you wrote, it was very meaningful. Thanks so much for your great feedback.

Sharyn

drbj and sherry from south Florida on July 26, 2012:

These are excellent and beautiful suggestions for writing condolence cards, Sharon. Thank you for creating this hub and sharing these sincere and meaningful words.

Mary Craig from New York on July 26, 2012:

I think you need to contact Hallmark! You have some lovely, heartfelt ideas that I'm sure everyone can use. Even if you send a standard sympathy card, you are so right, it is always nice to write something personal inside...it always means more to the person receiving the card.

I voted this up, useful, and beautiful. If there was a heartwarming button I would've chose that one too!

Joshua Zerbini from Pennsylvania on July 25, 2012:

Sharon,

Totally useful hub. Great suggestions for all of us, because it is so difficult to come up with the right words when we write these letters. Thanks for the informative hub Sharon!

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on July 25, 2012:

Hi Natasha ~ Oh yeah, that is a difficult situation. I am sure many of us would not really know what to say. I do hope this advice helps. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Sharyn

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on July 25, 2012:

Hi Carol ~ Thank you for such nice feedback and for your fan mail and follow too. I appreciate you stopping by. I will check out your work as well.

Sharyn

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on July 25, 2012:

Hi Gail ~ How beautiful that your aunt handmade a sympathy card for your family after your mom's passing. What an awesome gift to treasure and pass down for generations to come. Those are the things that mean so much. I hope you are doing okay. I appreciate your great feedback. Take care,

Sharyn

Rui Carreira from Torres Novas on July 25, 2012:

A good hub for a bad time in life. I enjoyed the design of the hub too. Well done. Voted up!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 25, 2012:

Very nice and useful hub! It is a difficult thing to write for sure; these suggestions are great for all of us.

Laura Brown from Barrie, Ontario, Canada on July 25, 2012:

I wrote a post about condolences and sympathy on my blog just after my Dad died. I had so many ideas from my own experience at that time. I should dig it up and rewrite it.

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on July 25, 2012:

Sharon...having just gone through a situation where I needed to send my condolences I was so upset when I was ordering the flowers I couldn't think of what I wanted to say! I just looked at prefilled messages and chose one. I sat there for a while...all I kept thinking was I am a writer with no words! How crappy is that?

Excellent hub!

Natasha from Hawaii on July 25, 2012:

Recently I signed a card for someone with pancreatic cancer. I really didn't know what to say, so I just signed my name. Thanks for the advice.

carol stanley from Arizona on July 25, 2012:

It is always difficult to know what to say when sending your condolences. I love all the choices you have on this hub, and there is something for everyone. I am going to Vote UP

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on July 25, 2012:

This is another beautifully written and illustrated hub filled with much practical and specific advice related to honoring a deceased loved one's life and reaching out to those who are grieving.

After my mother's recent death my aunt, who is 88 years old, lives in an assisted living facility and suffered a stroke years ago, sent a hand painted, hand written sympathy card. That card is a comfort, but it also amazed me because of the obvious time and effort she put into creating an artistic card. As with the other beautiful cards I received, it shall be kept and treasured.

Voted up across the board except for funny.