One of the most helpful and comforting things we can do for someone who has lost a loved one is to send a letter or card that expresses our sympathy and lets them know that we care. Sometimes, however, it can be a challenge to find the right words to say, and we fear that we may say something wrong.

To help you, here are some tips from the card writers at Hallmark, who have been writing sympathy cards for a long, long time.

Words of Condolences – A short and simple line offering your condolences is very comforting. Phrases such as:
– • “We are so sorry for your loss.”
– • “I’m going to miss her, too.”
– • “I was saddened to hear that your grandfather passed away. My thoughts are with you and your family.”

Words of Appreciation – If you knew the deceased well enough, the family would be uplifted by your kind words:
– • “What an amazing person and what a remarkable life. I feel so lucky that I got to know him.”
– • “What a good and generous man your father was. I thought his funeral service was a wonderful tribute to him and all he has done for our community. He will be missed.”

Offer to Help – After a loss, people will often need help with food, chores, etc. If you are in a position to offer assistance, let them know:
– • “I know I can’t make your pain go away, but I want you to know I’m here with a shoulder or an ear or anything else you need.”
– • “Thinking of your family with love and wanting to help out in any way I can. I’ll call to see when would be a good night to bring over a meal.”

Following Up – In the weeks and months after a loss, those who are in the grieving process may need additional support. A card or a note is a thoughtful way to help.
– • “Just wanted to let you know we’re remembering your mom on her birthday and sending lots of caring thoughts your way.”

What Not to Say – The grief process is unique to everyone, yet there are some phrases to avoid because they may end up being counterproductive. Such as:
– • “I know how you feel.” – Perhaps not. We all experience and process grief differently.
– • “She was so young.” No need for a potentially painful reminder.
– • “What a terrible loss.” Avoid dwelling on the pain or difficulty of the loss.
– • “You should…” Instead of advice, offer comfort and support.

For a full list of tips, visit