If a friend or family member has lost a loved one, sending them a sympathy note is a kind gesture. A handwritten card may provide some comfort during this difficult time. However, offering sympathy can often put people at a loss for words. Whether you’re across the country or attending the memorial service, use the following tips to write a sincere and sensitive note. 

How to Write a Thoughtful Sympathy Card

1. Express Condolences

First, acknowledge the passing of their loved one. Let them know that they’re in your thoughts. Don’t try to sugarcoat or justify the situation; saying “everything happens for a reason” or a similar sentiment can dismiss the recipient’s feelings.

Instead, be direct and brief. Also, take their religious background and personal views into account. For example, if they don’t believe in the afterlife, avoid saying “they’re in a better place now.” 

2. Share a Personal Memory

memorial serviceWhen you attend a memorial service, attendees will often share special moments to honor the memory of the deceased. Stories of how their family member touched others’ lives can help surviving loved ones find some comfort.

You can apply the same principle to your sympathy note. If you knew the deceased personally, consider sharing a favorite memory about them. Perhaps your friend’s loved one helped you in a time of need or was known by others for their charm. However, don’t try to embellish; stick to general condolences if you never met them.

3. Offer to Help

Extend a sincere offer to help your friend or family member. Handling the deceased’s personal matters, including planning a memorial service, requires a fair amount of time and thought.

People are typically experiencing emotional distress during this time, which can make ordinary tasks like making dinner or cleaning the house seem overwhelming. Consider offering to help with meals or errands. Even if the recipient declines the offer, it will still be appreciated.


Serving Rochester, NY, Leo M. Bean and Sons Funeral Home has provided personal, respectful funeral and memorial services for over 40 years. This family-owned and -operated business honors the lives of those who’ve passed and is available through every step of the planning process. Find a full list of their services online, or call (585) 426-7830 to speak with a director.