Although everyone experiences loss in some way or another, it's never easy to see a friend or family member endure the heartbreak that accompanies losing a loved one. When writing sympathy card messages, we want to express heartfelt condolences without causing more hurt or pain than they have already experienced.
When sending sympathy card messages, consider these factors before signing a "Sincerely."
What to write in a sympathy card
Word choice can either break a heart more or help alleviate some hurts when it comes to sympathy cards. One can easily want to put encouragements such as, "he is in a better place," if he was a believer, "it happened for a reason," or "now he no longer feels any pain." But those sentiments can overlook the current pain those who have lost him or her experience. They can end up forcing the reader to stop listening to the rest of the card because it magnifies their grief.
Before writing anything, we should consider how those in Scripture handled the grief losing loved ones.
Jesus, for instance, wept when he heard of Lazarus' death (John 11:35). Even though he knew Lazarus would resurrect, he empathized with the desolation Mary and Martha expressed. A sympathy card should contain statements such as, "I am so sorry for your loss," "My greatest sympathies go out to you," and "Words cannot express the loss you must be feeling."
Sympathy Card Messages
In addition to empathy, one could also mention a positive memory. "I remember he had the most beautiful voice when he would sing in church," or "Her smile would brighten my days. She was always such an encouragement.” This can assure the person receiving the card that you have pleasant memories of the person who has recently passed. It can also help remind them of some of those times they had with the person.
Third, ensure the card recipient that you will accompany them during this loss. When Jesus was about to endure the suffering of the cross, he asked his disciples to join him in the Garden of Gethsemane and stay awake with him (Matthew 26:38). Even though he would suffer, he wanted companionship during his trial.
In a similar way, those enduring a season of grief want to know they are not alone. Even if they push friends away and refuse to discuss the difficulty, still offer to be there to meet needs, pray for them, and offer a shoulder to cry on.
Consider, also, including some sympathy quotes or Bible verses that have made an impact in your life, the life of the card recipient, or the life of the person who has recently passed. Although some examples are listed below, if you have a personal quote or verse that applies, consider including it as well.
Examples of how to sign a sympathy card
Although one may not think the signature bears much weight in a sympathy card, how you sign can affect the overall perception of the entire message. A heartfelt signature can go a longer way than a flippant "Best" or "In Christ," "Warmly," or "Regards." Make it as personal as you can, especially if you know the person who has passed well.
Some examples include of sympathy signatures to include
My deepest condolences
Wishing you peace
You are in my thoughts and prayers
Consider also handwriting the card instead of sending a message via email or text. A personal, handwritten note shows you took a longer time to craft the message.
What to write in a sympathy card for someone you didn’t know well
Similar to the items mentioned above, you should express condolences, mention any positive memories you had with that person, and offer practical help to the person receiving the card (prayers, meals, phone conversations, etc.).
However, make sure to be as sincere as possible. If you list several positive aspects about the person that you didn't know very well, the person receiving the card may detect your insincerity. In the case you don't know the person who has recently passed away as well, focus on the person receiving the card. Try to mention your deep condolences for their loss and how you can offer aid in this trying time.
Inspiring Sympathy quotes for loss
Although not a complete list, some of these quotes can accompany a sympathy card:
- "Those we have held in our arms for a little while, we hold in our hearts forever." Author Unknown
- “Wherever a beautiful soul has been there is a trail of beautiful memories." Author Unknown
- "It is not length of life, but depth of life." Ralph Waldo Emerson
- "Our joys will be greater, our love will be deeper, our life will be fuller because we shared your moment." Author Unknown
- "The world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming." Helen Keller
- "For some moments in life there are no words." David Seltzer
- "Like a bird singing in the rain, let grateful memories survive in time of sorrow." Robert Louis Stevenson
Bible verses to include in a sympathy card
In addition to the sympathy quotes, consider including some of these Bible verses in the sympathy card. If you have a verse that means a lot to you, or to that person, that you do not see listed, consider writing those as well.
- "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Psalm 73:26).
- "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21:4)
- "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." (Matthew 5:4)
- "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:18)
- "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
- "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea." (Psalm 46:1-2)
- "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." (Psalm 23:4)
- "He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people's disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken." (Isaiah 25:8)
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