Writing sympathy quotes in a sympathy card that truly capture how sorry you are for someone’s loss can be a daunting task. What if I say the wrong thing? What if I just end up making them feel worse?
To ease the pressure, we have put together this Ultimate Guide on what to write in a sympathy card.
It covers every practical question you have—from selecting the right condolence card—to appropriate sympathy quotes to use when writing your sympathy card.
You’ll also find a helpful infographic summarizing the major do’s and don’ts that you should consider when writing your sympathy card message.
We also give you 100+ best sympathy quotes that you can use directly in your sympathy card. Using our examples makes writing a sympathy card a lot less stressful.
Our wording samples include:
- Sympathy quotes for the loss of a mother or grandmother
- Sympathy quotes for the loss of a father or grandfather
- Sympathy quotes for the loss of a wife, husband or life partner
- Sympathy quotes for the loss of a child
- Sympathy quotes for the loss of a sister
- Sympathy quotes for the loss of a brother
- Sympathy quotes for the loss of a pet
- Sympathy quotes from the bible
We also explicitly tell you what words and phrases to avoid when writing your sympathy message. (So don’t worry about saying the wrong thing—we’ve got you covered.)
If you keep reading to the end of this post, you will also find graphic samples of sympathy cards to inspire you to get started.
We promise that with our Ultimate Guide, you don’t have to be a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist in order to write heartfelt sympathy quotes.
So let’s get started…
Pick the Right Sympathy Card
There are 3 methods for conveying your sympathy message—an electronic sympathy card (e-card); a traditional cardstock (paper) sympathy card; and a Meme-orial (a sympathy card that you post on Facebook or other social media platforms).
Let’s look at the pros and cons of each type of sympathy card.
Electronic Sympathy Cards
In today’s technologically driven world, electronic sympathy cards are considered to be perfectly acceptable.
However, an e-card is not the best choice if the person you’re sending the card to is not very tech-savvy, like your Nana.
You also need to keep in mind that an electronic sympathy card may have an expiration date.
The person receiving the sympathy card might not be in the state of mind to read their email for quite some time. There is the danger that they may never see your electronic condolence card.
Cardstock Sympathy Cards
Traditionally, we send a beautiful cardstock sympathy card with a handwritten, personal message, to the family of the person that passed away.
Grieving people (especially older generations) often like to display all the sympathy cards they received. It reminds them how many other people loved the person they loved and makes them feel less alone in their grief.
Your card may also become a treasured memento.
After my mom died, my brothers and I were cleaning out her dresser drawers. We found a handful of sympathy cards she had received when my dad died a decade earlier.
She must have saved those particular cards because their messages were heartfelt and touched her during the darkest time in her life.
Before selecting a sympathy card, think about the tastes and values of the person who you are sending the card to.
For example, if they love flowers, pick a sympathy card with flowers on it. If they are religious, you might want to select a card from their faith.
A cardstock sympathy card may not be the best option if you, or the card recipient, is environmentally conscious.
According to Stanford University, Christmas cards sold each year in the USA alone could fill a football field 10 stories high.
Of course, other types of paper cards and products, including sympathy cards, contribute to forest clearing and landfill issues.
Social Media Sympathy Cards
If the person who suffered a loss spends time on Facebook, or on other social media platforms, you could also consider conveying your condolences with a Meme-orial.
Our Meme-orial platform makes it easy for you create a personal tribute to the person that passed away and share it on Facebook and other popular social media platforms.
You simply upload your favourite photo of the person that passed away, choose a meaningful sympathy message (or write your own), and choose a beautiful background.
Here is an example of what your Meme-orial post on Facebook could look like:
Meme-orial allows you to share your sympathy message not only with the family of the person that passed away, but with everybody that loved him or her.
Your beautiful photo tribute and sympathy quote will inspire your online community to share special memories about the person that passed away and create a lasting digital legacy.
So make a personalised Meme-orial today.
Take Your Time When Planning What to Write in a Sympathy Card
Set aside 10 minutes of quiet, uninterrupted time to work on writing your sympathy message. A hurried sympathy card will convey the impression that the person that passed away was not that important to you.
Before you start writing in pen on a cardstock sympathy card, or typing your condolence message into an e-card or on your Meme-orial, it is a good idea to write a rough draft of your sympathy message on a piece of paper.
Write out the sympathy quotes you plan to use, then read them out aloud to see how they sound.
Also double-check your spelling and grammar.
After you have made all the necessary adjustments to your sympathy quotes, you are ready to begin writing or typing.
With paper sympathy cards, use a pen with blue or black ink, as these colours are the most legible.
Also use your very best handwriting. Remember, the best condolence message in the world doesn’t mean anything if people can’t read it!
If your cursive handwriting is particularly poor, write your sympathy quotes using print. You could also consider making an e-card or a Meme-orial instead.
Use Formal Language When Writing Sympathy Quotes
The loss of someone is a serious and devastating time in anyone’s life, so the tone of your sympathy card should reflect this.
Make sure you use formal language when considering what to write in a sympathy card.
Always start your sympathy card with “Dear”, and end your card with phrases like “Yours Sincerely” or “Yours truly”.
You should also refrain from using slang or nicknames. It is, however, appropriate to use terms of endearment when writing sympathy quotes.
If you are sending an electronic sympathy card, do not use shortcuts that are used in mobile text messages.
Anatomy of a Sympathy Card
When it comes to what to write in a sympathy card, the most important rule is that your sympathy message should be short and sweet.
When someone has just experienced a loss, they likely do not have the mental state to read long sympathy cards and condolence letters.
These are the 6 elements that make up a sympathy card, in the order that they must appear:
2. Acknowledgment of the loss
3. Reassurance that you are thinking about the person and grieving with him/her
4. Appreciation of the life of the person that passed away
5. Sincere offer of help and support
6. Warm closing
Write your sympathy card today by choosing one sympathy quote for each element of the card from our comprehensive list of examples (or use our examples as inspiration to write your own sympathy quote):
1. Start with a Salutation:
- “Dear _______”
2. Acknowledge the Loss:
- “We were deeply saddened to hear about the loss of _______.”
- “We were so sorry to hear about the passing of _______.”
- “I was saddened to hear that your [e.g. father/grandfather] _______ passed away.”
- “We share in your sadness as you remember _______.”
- “We send our deepest sympathies as you remember _______.”
- “I wish I were writing to you under different circumstances and that _______ was still with us.”
- “I am so sorry for your loss.”
- “We are going to miss _______, too.”
- “I will always remember your wonderful [e.g. mother/grandmother] _______.”
- “Thinking of you as you remember _______, a true friend that was so close to you.”
- “I am heartbroken that _______ is no longer with us. He/she will be greatly missed.”
3. Let the Person Know You are Thinking of Them:
- “I’m thinking of you and your family during this time of sorrow.”
- “We hope you feel surrounded by much love during this difficult time.”
- “We are praying that God watches over you in your time of grief.”
- “Our family is keeping your family in our thoughts and prayers.”
- “I wish you much comfort during this sad time.”
- “Sending healing prayers and our biggest hugs. We are so sorry for your loss.”
- “We are missing _______ along with you.”
- “We are thinking of you at this difficult time and mourning the loss of _______ with you.”
- “We are thinking of you all as you celebrate your [e.g. mother/grandmother]’s remarkable life.”
- “I’m thinking of you and wishing you moments of peace and comfort as you mourn the loss of a wonderful [e.g. friend/mother/sister].”
- “Holding you close in my heart and hoping that you find some comfort and peace during this difficult time.”
- “Our thoughts are with you and your family during this sad time.”
4. Share a Memory or Your Appreciation of the Deceased:
- “_______ was a wonderful person and I will always remember the generosity and kindness she always showed to others.”
- “_______ was a wonderful person with a great sense of humour. We will always treasure the special times we spent together and the laughs we shared.”
- “We will never forget _______ . We were lucky to know [him/her] and to have had [him/her] as our _______ [e.g. friend/uncle/neighbour/boss].”
- “It was a true pleasure working with your _______ [e.g. father/grandfather] for_______ years. [He/she] will be deeply missed.”
- “_______ was a special person who brought a lot of joy to our lives. We were so blessed to have known [him/her].”
- “_______ was an amazing person and led a remarkable life. I feel so lucky to have known [him/her].”
- “What a good and generous person your [e.g. father/grandfather]. I thought [his/her] funeral service was a wonderful tribute to [him/her] and all [he/she] has done for our community. [He/she] will be greatly missed.”
- “Your [e.g. father/mother] was an amazing [man/lady], and I feel privileged to have known [him/her]. [He/she] will be forever missed.”
- “We mourn the passing of this special [man/woman] with you. [He/she] brought so much joy to the lives of others.”
- “Your [e.g. son/daughter] made the world a better place. I will forever cherish my memories of the time that we shared together, and forever miss [him/her].”
- “Nobody could tell a funny story like your [e.g. mom/dad]. Remember the story [he/she] told about _______? I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much. I’ll always cherish my memories of the joy and laughter that we shared.”
- “Your [e.g. mother/grandmother/daughter] blessed so many people with her thoughtfulness and kindness. I pray that you find comfort in your memories of her, and the knowledge that others are missing her too.”
- “I have the best memories of _______. I’m not sure if ever told you the story of the time [he/she] _______. I’m going to miss [his/her] fun-loving spirit so much.”
Trying to think of words to describe the person that passed away?
Consider using one of the following: generous; kindhearted; unforgettable; funny; fun-loving; unique; one-in-a-million; one-of-a-kind; sweet; lovely; talented; admired; wonderful; well-loved; honourable; respected; talented; admired; hardworking; caring; energetic; happy; strong; beautiful spirit; noble character; beloved.
5. Offer Your Support:
- “If there is anything that I can do to help you through this difficult time, please do not hesitate to ask. I will be calling you on [date] at [time] to check in with you.”
- “If you ever need a friend to lean on during this difficult time, please call me. I will be calling you on [date] at [time] to check in with you.”
- “We will always be there for you, day or night. Please call us if you ever need anything. We will stop by on [date] at [time] to spend some time with you.”
- “Please call us if there is anything we can do to help and support you in this difficult time. We will stop by on [date] at [time] to spend some time with you.”
- “We know that we cannot take your pain away, but we want you to call us if there is anything that you need, and whenever you need a shoulder to cry on. We will stop by on [date] at [time] to check in with you.”
- “Please let me help you in any way that you need. I will call you on [date] at [time] to see if there is anything I can do, and to check when I can bring over a meal.”
- “You have so much to deal with at this time. Please let me take care of _______ [e.g. yard work/cooking/baby sitting] for you for as long as you need.”
6. Choose a Closing:
- “Thinking of you, _______”
- “With caring thoughts, _______”
- “With sympathy, _______”
- “With heartfelt sympathy, _______”
- “With deepest sympathy, _______”
- “With sincere sympathy, _______”
- “With prayers and sympathy, _______”
- “With warm thoughts and prayers, _______”
- “With much love, _______”
- “With love at this sad time, _______”
- “With much love, now and always, _______”
- “With you in sorrow, _______”
- “Sharing your sadness, _______”
- “Praying for you, _______”
- “Keeping you in our prayers, _______”
- “Lifting you up in prayer, _______”
- “May God shelter you in this difficult time, _______”
- “God bless, _______”
- “God bless and comfort you, _______”
- “Wishing you peace, _______”
- “Wishing you comfort and healing, _______”
- “Our heart goes out to you, _______”
- “Our sincerest sympathies, _______”
- “Our sincerest condolences, _______”
- “Please accept our condolences, _______”
- “Peace, prayers and blessings, _______”
- “You are in my thoughts”
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Inspirational Sympathy Quotes
Some people like to include an inspirational sympathy quote on the inside of the card, on the left-hand-side.
Sympathy Quotes for Loss of a Mother or Grandmother
- “Grace was in all her steps, heaven in her eye, in every gesture, dignity and love.” (John Milton)
- “And then I heard the angel say, ‘She’s with you every day.’” (Author Unknown)
- “The sun, the moon, the wind, the stars, will forever be around, reminding you of the love you shared, and the peace she’s finally found.” (Author Unknown)
- “Once upon a memory someone wiped away a tear, held me close and loved me, Thank you, [mother/grandmother] dear.” (Author Unknown)
- “A mother holds her children’s hands for a while, their hearts forever.” (Author Unknown)
- “My [mom/nana] is a never-ending song in my heart of comfort, happiness, and being. I may sometimes forget the words, but I always remember the tune.” (Graycie Harmon)
- “There’s magic in a mother’s touch, and sunshine in her smile. There’s love in everything she does to make our lives worthwhile. We can find both hope and courage just by looking in her eyes. Her laughter is a source of joy, her works are warm and wise. There is a kindness and compassion to be found in her embrace and we see the light of heaven shining from a mother’s face.” (Author Unknown)
Sympathy Quotes for Loss of a Father or Grandfather
- “Say not in grief ‘he is no more’ but in thankfulness that he was.” (Hebrew Proverb)
- “Dad, your guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever.” (Author Unknown)
- “He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.” (Clarence Budington Kelland)
Sympathy Quotes for Loss of a Wife, Husband, or Life Partner
- “As long as I can I will look at this world for both of us, as long as I can, I will laugh with the birds, I will sing with the flowers, I will pray to the stars, for both of us.” (Author Unknown)
- “We’ve shared our lives these many years. You’ve held my hand; you’ve held my heart. So many blessings, so few tears – yet for a moment, we must part.” (Author Unknown)
- “The object is not to forget, but to remember to go on.” (Author Unknown)
Sympathy Quotes for Loss of a Child
- “Only a moment you stayed, but what an imprint your footprints have left on our hearts.” (Dorothy Ferguson)
- “Those we have held in our arms for a short while we hold in our hearts forever.” (Author Unknown)
- “Parents hold their children’s hands for just a little while … but their hearts forever.” (Author Unknown)
- “Our joys will be greater, our love will be deeper, our life will be fuller because we shared your moment.” (Author Unknown)
- “And we wept that one so lovely should have a life so brief.” (William Cullen Bryant)
- “A gift for such a little while, your loss seems so wrong, you should not have left before us it’s with loved ones you belong.” (Author Unknown)
- “May you find peace and joy with each butterfly that passes by, knowing that your baby lives on in the hearts of all [he/she] touched.” (Author Unknown)
Sympathy Quotes for Loss of a Sister
- “What is lovely never dies, but passes into another loveliness, Star-dust or sea-foam, Flower or winged air.” (Thomas Bailey Aldrich)
- “What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” (Helen Keller)
- “If I had a single flower for every time I think about you, I could walk forever in my garden.” (Claudia Ghandi)
Sympathy Quotes for Loss of a Brother
- “Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day. Unseen, unheard, but always near; still loved, still missed, and very dear.” (Author Unknown)
- “So say it loud and let it ring. We are all part of everything. The future, present, and the past. Fly on proud bird. You’re free at last.” (Charlie Daniels)
- “Every time a tear forms in your beautiful eyes, look up to the heavens and there you will see me, smiling down from God’s glorious skies.” (Injete Chesoni)
- “Do not think of me as gone. I am with you still in each new dawn.” (Native American Poem)
Sympathy Quotes for Pet Grief
- “We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals. ” (Immanual Kant)
- “Our pets never really leave us. They live on in memories of the love and devotion they gave us.” (Author Unknown)
- “Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so many years of our own lives.” (John Galsworthy)
- “Best friends come in all breeds.” (Author Unknown)
- “A pet is never truly forgotten until it is no longer remembered.” (Lacie Petitt)
- “At first they need us, and then we need them.” (Author Unknown)
- “Our animal friends teach us more than we could have expected and love us more than we could have hoped…that’s why we miss them more than we could have imagined.” (Author Unknown)
- “No matter how or when we lose our furry friends, their love lasts a lifetime.” (Author Unknown)
Sympathy Quotes from the Bible
If the person for whom you are writing a sympathy card is a Christian, you could include a sympathy quote from the bible.
Here are some beautiful biblical sympathy quotes:
- “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)
- “May your unfailing love be my comfort….” (Psalm 119:76)
- “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” (John 14:27)
- “Come to me, all you are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
- “Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.” (Psalm 30:2)
- “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)
- “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
- “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Isaiah 40:29)
- “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)
- “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.” (Psalm 46:1-2)
- “You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.” (Psalm 18:28)
- “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2)
- “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)
- “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God]; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)
Words and Phrases to Avoid When Writing Sympathy Quotes
When someone experiences the death of a loved one, they are likely to be more sensitive to certain words and actions than they usually are.
When planning what to write on a sympathy card, avoiding using the words “death” and “died”. Use gentler words like “passing” or “loss” instead.
Also avoid bringing up details about the death when considering what to write in a sympathy card.
Grieving people don’t want to be reminded about how their loved one passed or any unfortunate circumstances surrounding his or her death.
These memories are very fresh, so mentioning the circumstances will likely trigger a strong emotional response in the grieving person, which you do not want to do.
In your attempt at being supportive, you might be tempted to say that you “know what they are going through,” or that you have “experienced a similar loss and know exactly how they feel.”
It is important to remember that everyone grieves differently and phrases like this can take away from this individual process.
When you say that you “know how they feel,” you are making your sympathy message about you, rather than about the bereaved person. He or she might reject the idea that you know what they are going through, and be angered by your words.
So remember to avoid saying “I know how you feel….”
If you are a person of faith, be sensitive about expressing strong religious sentiments in your condolence card if the person you are writing to does not share your beliefs.
There is a good chance that he or she will react badly to being told that their loved one’s death is part of God’s plan, or that they will see them one day again in heaven.
While your intention is to be comforting, such comments may be viewed as being insensitive.
Do not vent your feelings about any disagreements or arguments that you may have had with the deceased in the past, or any regrets you may have, in your sympathy card.
This is not the time or place for this discussion. Your sympathy card should only speak about positive memories.
When writing your sympathy quotes, avoid spouting advice on what the bereaved person should do. Instead, focus on providing comfort and support.
No matter how helpful you think your advice is, nothing can compare to the healing power of a simple, “We’ll always be there for you.”
Also avoid making any predictions about how the person will feel in the future, or what the future holds. Everyone’s journey of grief is unique.
Finally, avoiding saying that the death happened for a reason. Even with the best intentions, this is not likely to be comforting to the grieving person.
Furthermore, it could be interpreted as assigning blame, to either the person that passed away, or to God who allowed it to happen.
In any event, it you use our examples of sympathy phrases (above), you will avoid unintentionally hurting the recipient of your condolence card.
Sympathy Card Samples
Here are some samples of sympathy cards to inspire you:
Your Sympathy Card Will Mean A Lot
While you might never be able to write sympathy quotes that truly show the depth of how much you loved the person that passed away and how much you miss them, the fact that you tried will mean so much to his or her grieving family.
A sympathy card won’t take away their pain, but your kind words may help them feel a little better during their time of loss.
You can follow our Pinterest board for more sympathy quotes, sympathy card examples, and sample wording to help you write your condolence card.