What To Write In A Sympathy Card

Sympathy Card

Deciding what to write in a sympathy card or bereavement card is some of the most challenging bit of writing any of us ever do. So, if you’re struggling right now in trying to choose just the right words of sympathy for someone’s loss, let’s take some pressure off you right away: There are no magic words to heal heartbreak, so you aren’t expected to write them. Your thoughtful act of sending the sympathy card is what will matter most.

After a loss, it sometimes feels impossible to get up each day and accept this “new normal” while the rest of the world seems to be going on as usual. There’s no time limit or set of rules for this bereavement period, but by taking the time out of your day to let a grieving person (or family) know they’re on your mind by writing a sympathy message, you are showing them that you see their struggle, send your support — and, most importantly, have not forgotten the person they’ve lost. That’s a big deal.

So now that you know there is no perfect sympathy card or condolence message for loss and no exact words of bereavement that you’re "supposed" to write in a card, it may help your creative juices flow to write what comes simply and naturally from your heart. But if you’re still looking for some idea-starters, that’s what we're here for. As with signing most greeting cards, remember the sympathy or bereavement card’s writing has already done some of the work, so a simple, sincere note or sympathy quote is usually the best approach. Below we break down some ideas for you on what to say in a sympathy note or things to write in a bereavement card.

Comfort sympathy card messages

  • I am/we are deeply sorry for your loss.
  • I hope you feel the love that surrounds you, now and always.
  • Praying for your healing, comfort, strength and peace during this painful time.
  • Thinking of you with sympathy — and here for you with loving support.
  • Celebrating an amazing life and wishing you comfort in your memories.
  • Thinking of you with heartfelt sympathy and surrounding you with gentle care.
  • Wishing you feelings of comfort, moments of peace and memories of joy during this difficult time.
  • May you find comfort in knowing you are not alone in your sorrow and cared for so much by many.
  • Remember that we love and care about you.
  • I am so, so sorry.

Personal sympathy messages

(Don’t shy away from writing the name of the person who has passed in your sympathy message; their survivors will never hear it enough.)

Sympathy messages for loss of mother or loss of father

  • The wonderful qualities of your mother are being carried on beautifully by you. She will always be remembered.
  • Your father raised an incredible man in you. May you always feel his pride and love.
  • You took such good care of your dad. He was lucky to have you.​
  • Your mom certainly left a one-of-a-kind mark on the world. It was an honor and pleasure to know her.
  • Your father will forever remain in our hearts and memories.
  • It was truly a pleasure to work with your mom. She will be missed by many.​
  • I didn’t know your mom, but I know she must have been special to raise someone like you.

Sympathy messages for loss of spouse

  • If you ever want to talk about [John], I would love to listen.
  • Sharing your sadness in the loss of sweet [Debra] and sending you comfort during this difficult time.
  • There are no words. But there is love (so much love!) surrounding you — and in the memories of [Jane].
  • The joy that [Roger] brought to the world will never be forgotten.
  • Letting you know I’m thinking of you and I’m here for you.
  • We are holding your family in our hearts and lifting you in prayer.

Sympathy messages for loss of child

  • I know your heart is aching and I’m thinking of you with comfort and love.
  • I can’t imagine what you’re going through. I’m so sorry for your loss.
  • Words can’t express the sorrow we feel. Sending you peace and love at this sad and difficult time.
  • Holding you in my heart, surrounding you with love.
  • Sending you prayers for strength as you find your way through each day.
  • The loss of a child is heartbreaking. Ryan was a wonderful kid, and he will be terribly missed.

Sympathy messages for miscarriage/loss of pregnancy

  • Wishing you any and everything you need to bring you comfort during this time.
  • Words can’t express how sorry I am. Holding you with love, in my heart.
  • Remember you’re not alone.
  • I’m thinking of you, and I’m here for you.
  • Be gentle with yourself and take all the time you need to heal.
  • Just want to remind you how much I care about you.

Sympathy messages for loss of friend

  • Being friends with [Susan] will always be one of my greatest gifts.
  • I will miss [James], too — and carry him in my heart, always.
  • [Sandy] made a beautiful difference in so many lives; she will be remembered with love.
  • Sending you thoughts of comfort during this difficult time — and remembering [Pamela] with love.
  • I feel so grateful to have known [Greg] and will remember him always, and often.
  • I hope it brings you some comfort in knowing that [Matt’s] life will be celebrated with joy and gratitude by his many, many friends.

Our pets are friends and family, too. If you are looking for what to write to someone who recently lost a pet, read these pet sympathy card messages.

Thoughtful additions to sympathy card messages

Beyond condolences there are many ways to comfort someone as they are grieving. Acts of kindness, volunteering your time and service, as well as creative projects like video montages and stories, are equally thoughtful ways to show up and show support. Mention them in addition to your card message and follow through on any offers you make. Here are a few ideas the bereaved are sure to appreciate:

  • A personal story or favorite memory of the person or pet who has passed is always a treasured “gift” to read.
  • Including a photograph adds a unique and special personal touch.
  • Mention your personal connection (from work, school, clubs, etc.) to the person who has passed, to remind surviving family.
  • Offer your service, such as helping with meals, grocery pickup, walking their dog, cleaning, yard work — anything that will help their bereavement time less stressful.
  • Create a video with clips of their loved one.
  • Take a survey from a group of people about what they loved and admired most about the departed person or animal companion.

Sympathy Card Quotes

Finding wisdom and insight from others’ words can be a great starting point. Many comforting and inspirational quotes or religious scripture (if appropriate for the family) can be found online, such as:

  • “What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” — Helen Keller
  • “Only a moment you stayed, but what an imprint your footprints have left on our hearts.” — Dorothy Ferguson
  • “May you take comfort in knowing there is one more angel above us.” —Unknown
  • “It is not length of life, but depth of life.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “Unable are the Loved to die/ For Love is Immortality.” — Emily Dickinson
  • “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” — Psalm 126:5-6
  • “The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” — Psalm 29:11

Sympathy Card for a Friend

When a friend is grieving, it’s more important than ever to be there for them. Let them know how much you care and lend support with a sympathy card message only you could deliver. For inspiration and idea starters, we’ve listed a few examples of sympathy card messages for a friend here.

  • My heart is breaking for you after your loss. Know that your friends are always close by to comfort you.
  • Whatever you need, whenever you need it — call upon my friendship.
  • Cry, laugh, scream or celebrate ... there is no right way to grieve over a loss like yours. Let it all out. I’m here no matter what.
  • I hate to see you hurting but know it’s part of the healing process. Take all the time you need. Love you.
  • Friends through thick and thin ... Hope I can help get you through this difficult time.

Short Condolences Messages

The most important part of a sympathy card is the act of giving one. Shorter condolences messages do not mean they’re any less impactful. Here are a few examples:

  • Thinking of you at this difficult time. Hope you know how much I care and am here for you always.
  • Words can’t express how sorry I am for your loss.
  • May God give you peace and comfort in the days ahead.
  • So many thoughts and too few words. With sympathy, [Your Name].
  • May you find comfort that your loved one is now at peace.
  • Never was a pet better cared for or loved. So sorry for your loss.
  • Sending caring thoughts and heartfelt condolences your way.


Brought to You by the Writers of American Greetings
We are a team of writers and editors with decades of experience creating happiness, laughter and love for American Greetings. When we’re not writing greeting cards and other celebrations content for the company, we are award-winning authors, bloggers, world travelers, singers, photographers, parents, grandparents and pet owners. Most of us live in Cleveland, Ohio, home to American Greetings Corporate Headquarters for over 100 years.