Sympathy greeting card with a recycled kraft envelope

What to write on a sympathy card

A guide to writing sympathy cards to help you send a meaningful and heartfelt message to your friends and family in their time of need.

Condolence card messages and sympathy notes are difficult to write, perhaps the most difficult greeting card message of all. Knowing what to write on a sympathy card is a tricky balancing act between showing support, sorrow, kindness, empathy and strength for your loved ones. While you no doubt have all those feelings inside, expressing them appropriately in a sympathy card is another story all together.

This guide on what to write in a sympathy card is our best attempt at navigating the difficult topic. We hope it can help you write a meaningful sympathy card to your friend or family in their time of need.


Be prepared: buy thoughtful sympathy cards in advance

On a regular happy day buying a sympathy cards is the furthest thing from your mind, but having one on hand means that when the unexpected happens you won’t be caught without a thoughtful card to give. Next time you set out to buy greeting cards add in a handmade sympathy card along with the usual selection of baby, thank you, and birthday cards.

The loss of friends and family is often unexpected, and not something we want to think about in our day to day lives. While we may choose to ignore it, loss is an inevitable part of the human journey, and you might as well be prepared when it rears its ugly head.

Hand drawn sympathy card that reads "I'm here for you"

Nice things to say in a sympathy card

Sympathy messages don’t have to be long or poetic. A nice simple line is enough to make your friends or family feel supported and loved. Here are a few ideas to help you write on a sympathy card.

  • I am incredibly lucky to have known [name], their friendship meant the world to me.
  • You and your [name] both mean a lot to me, I am here for you.
  • I will always carry wonderful memories of [name], they will be sorely missed.
  • I am so sorry to hear of your loss, please know I am think of you.
  • Sending you all of my love in this difficult time.
  • My thoughts are with you and your family.
  • I hope you find comfort in [name]’s beautiful memory.
  • I love you, you are not alone.
  • If you want to talk my door is always open, I will always be here for you.
  • Sharing in your sadness as we remember [name].
  • What an amazing person [name] was, and what a remarkable life they led.
  • [name] touched so many lives and brought so much happiness to the world.

Handmade sympathy greeting card with recycled kraft envelope

Include a personal memory in your sympathy card

If you were close with the deceased it can be nice to share a fond memory or highlight your favourite thing about them. For example, “[name] had a wonderful sense of humour, and I will miss their beautiful smile”. Be honest and sincere when reminiscing. Stay positive and only highlight good traits. As they say, if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.


Short vs. long sympathy card messages

A common misconception about writing sympathy cards is that the longer the message, the better. The simple gesture of taking the time to sit down and write a sympathy message in greeting card will always mean a lot, especially in our increasingly digital world.

When in doubt choose a beautiful card with an illustration that resonates with you and write a short but sincere heartfelt message. In many cases a grieving person may not be in an emotional state to process long letters anyway.

Sympathy greeting card with love heart illustration that says You are Here in the centre

Offering help in a sympathy card

When writing a sympathy card you can include an offer to help your grieving friend or family member. Seemingly small tasks like cooking a meal, walking a dog, or running errands can feel like huge daunting tasks when grieving, and having a kind helping hand can make all the difference. Only offer to help if you are sincere, and follow up on the offer even if you haven’t heard from them since you sent the sympathy card.


What NOT to write in a sympathy card

The role of a sympathy card is to show your support and acknowledge a loss. Grief is a unique process and is different for everyone. Try not to belittle your friend or family members process and feelings by encouraging them to move on quickly, comparing to your own experiences, telling them how they should feel, or what they should believe. It is not helpful, and can in fact be harmful to their healing. Similarly, avoid religious sentiments unless you are certain of their faith. Here are some phrases and sentiments that you should avoid when writing on a sympathy card. 

  • I know how you feel
  • Be thankful for the time you had
  • At least you had some time together
  • Things happen for a reason
  • Everything will be ok soon
  • They are with God now

Sympathy greeting card featuring an illustration of a boat carrying a gift basket

How to end a sympathy card

The way you finish writing a sympathy card is important because it is your last chance to convey your condolences. For example, imagine receiving a sympathy card that reads “Best regards” at the end. It doesn’t leave you feeling very warm and loved. Here are a few examples of thoughtful endings you might like to try next time you write in a sympathy card.

  • Thinking of you
  • With love
  • Our deepest sympathy
  • Wishing you peace
  • All of our love
  • Sending love you and your family


Sympathy messages for pets

Anyone who has ever had a pet dog, cat, rabbit, lizard, fish, or any other living creature will attest that they are very much a part of the family. Similarly, anyone who has ever lost a pet will know just how much it hurts. This means when we are thinking of what to write in a sympathy card for pets the rules don’t change. Be just as kind, thoughtful, and supportive as you would for any other loss.


Buy Australian sympathy cards online

Having the right card at the right time is everything. Don’t get stuck giving a last minute hallmark card to someone in need. Buy 5 greeting cards and get the 6th one free with The Nonsense Maker’s Australian greeting card bundle deal. Click here to see the range.



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