Expressing condolences can be a difficult thing to do. You may not always know what to say, but saying something when someone is grieving shows that you are there to support them. Offering a sympathy message lets someone you love know they are not alone in their grief. You may want to write a sympathy card but feel unsure of how to express your condolences and thoughts. This feeling is completely normal, but it can make such an act of kindness feel stressful or confusing.

To help, we’ve put together some examples of what to write in a sympathy card, to help you express messages of condolences.

How to express condolences in a sympathy card.

As with other cards, a sympathy card will usually include a pre-written message inside it already. But writing a short message of condolences can add a personal touch.

When someone dies, there will usually be several people grieving their loss. So, it is important to consider who you will be writing a card to. If you are unsure who to address the sympathy card to, you might choose the closest relative of the person who has passed away. This may be the husband, wife or a child of the deceased. Another method is to address it to the family, for example, ‘The Jones Family’.

Once you have identified who will address the sympathy card to, you should then decide on an appropriate condolence message. You might start with a simple expression that you are sorry for their loss. From there, you might like to share a memory of the person who has died, as this will let the receiver know how much their loved one meant to you.

You may also like to compliment the person who has died, saying something like “your brother was such a kind man” or “her smile brightened up the lives of so many”. Having a heartfelt message can provide significant meaning to someone who is mourning the loss of a loved one.

But avoid getting too carried away, as reading long paragraphs of writing can be overwhelming for those who are grieving. Keep your sympathy messages short and sweet.

Comforting sympathy messages when someone dies.

Sharing a comforting sympathy message can allow you to express your condolences in an open and honest way. However, if you’re not quite sure what to say, below are some comforting messages that you can include word-for-word, or tailor for a more personalised touch.

Condolences after the loss of a mum or dad.

  • I have such precious childhood memories of your Mum / Dad. I know you’ll miss her/him so much.
  • Your Mum / Dad was such an incredible person. I am so sorry for your loss.
  • No matter how old we are, it’s never easy to lose a parent. My thoughts are with you at this time.
  • Your father / mother was like a second Dad / Mum to me growing up. I will never forget the good times we had together.
Expressing condolences after someone has died.
Writing a sympathy card can help express condolences after someone has died.

Condolences after the loss of a brother or sister.

When offering condolences to someone after the death of their brother or sister, here are some messages you might include in a sympathy card.

  • I’m so glad I had a chance to know your sister / brother.
  • He / she was a special person who will be so sorely missed.
  • My deepest condolences on the loss of your sister / brother.
  • I’m sorry to hear of the loss of your sister / brother. She / he changed the lives of so many.

Condolences after the loss of a husband, wife or partner.

  • I know your love will always continue, even though you are parted.
  • I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Remembering your great love story today and always.
  • A lifetime together is never enough. I am thinking of both of you with so much love.
  • Expressing my condolences to you. Your loving marriage was an inspiration to me.

Condolences after the death of a child.

  • It has been such a joy in my life to know your beautiful child. She / he has been a light in the world, and will always be.
  • There are no words for such an unimaginable loss. You’re in my thoughts.
  • My heart aches for you and your family.
  • I am so terribly sorry for your loss.

Condolences after a sudden loss.

When offering condolences to a person after a sudden loss, here are some messages you might include in a sympathy card.

  • I am so sorry to hear of this unexpected loss. Please accept my heartfelt condolences.
  • My heart goes out to you after this sudden loss. You are in my thoughts at this time
  • I am so saddened to hear about your son / daughter / husband / father. My heart goes out to you and your family.
  • This is such a shock to all of us. Our deepest condolences to you and your family.

General messages of condolences.

  • Please know I’m here for you and I’m thinking of you all the time.
  • Our thoughts are with you.
  • Thinking of you in these difficult times.
  • Our hearts go out to you in your time of sorrow.
  • I am / we are sharing in your sorrow with love and friendship.
  • No words can describe how sorry I am for your loss.
  • My heart goes out to you in your time of sorrow.
  • I wish to offer my deepest condolences.
  • I want you to know that you are surrounded by friends who love you.
  • My heartfelt condolences to you and your family.
  • If we can provide you comfort, know our thoughts are with you.
  • It was a shock to hear the news of their passing.
  • My family and I were saddened to learn of their death.
  • My family extends to you our deepest sympathies.
  • My heartfelt condolences go out to you and your family.
  • No words can describe how sorry I am for your loss.

Final thoughts on expressing condolences.

As a society, we’re not great at dealing with death and grief, or knowing how to support people we care about after a death. We might not even be aware of the things that are important to us in grief and dying until we’re confronted with it in our own lives. It’s important to remember that everyone grieves differently. There is no one correct way to grieve or help someone to grieve. However, a simple gesture of sending someone a sympathy card after someone close to them has died can show them that they are in your thoughts. You are thinking of them and will be there when they might need some comfort.

If you’re seeking grief or bereavement support, we’ve compiled a list of services across Australia here. If you are seeking grief support, speak to your health professional or reach out to the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement on 1800 642 066. In addition, for Lifeline’s Crisis Counselling service call 13 11 14, or BeyondBlue on 1300 224 636.

At Bare, we know that grief is the price of love. It’s never easy, but we’ve created a number of free grief resources that may help you through this tough time. Visit the Bare Grief Support resources here. If you would prefer to speak with someone over the phone, don’t hesitate to call us at 1800 071 176.

Read: How to comfort a friend after a death.