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How to Write a Sympathy Card

Sympathy is a delicate matter and must be handled with sensitivity and restraint. Learn to write a card to the grieving conveys respect and extends loving support.


  • Step 1: Keep it short Acknowledge the person's loss and express sympathy and condolences. Draw from personal experience, keep the card short, and write simple sentences.
  • Step 2: Avoid platitudes or advice Avoid platitudes in the letter -- judgmental observations or religious commentary are not appropriate. Also, avoid suggesting what the person "should" feel.
  • TIP: Don't get into graphic depictions of the event or a recitation of your own reaction upon hearing the news.
  • Step 3: Offer to help Make a heartfelt offer in the message to help in any way you can, but leave the details up to them.
  • Step 4: Be sincere, not intrusive Resist the temptation to say "I know how you feel." Be sincere about your feelings without rambling.
  • Step 5: Use humor Use humor, but be careful. Under certain circumstances, light humor can ease pain, but be certain you're not misunderstood.
  • Step 6: Close with promised support Close with an honest encouragement to heal, and reassurance of your continued love and support.
  • FACT: Americans buy nearly 7 billion greeting cards each year -- almost $7.5 billion in retail sales.

You Will Need

  • Acknowledgment
  • Sensitivity
  • Sincerity
  • Humor
  • Encouragement

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