how to write a sympathy note

30 Condolence Message Ideas – How to Write a Sympathy Note

Writing a condolence message after someone’s passing can be an emotional experience and one that needs to be addressed with extreme sensitivity. Remember, families will be grieving and overwhelmed by the funeral planning process. Your note should express compassion and avoid saying anything that could possibly offend or agitate the family. 

We want to help! So we compiled a few expert tips and provided several example messages tailored to the type of loss a person might experience: 

  • Passing of a spouse 
  • Passing of a child
  • Passing of a sibling
  • Passing of a parent
  • Passing from a suicide 
  • Passing of a pet

Writing a Condolence Message: 5 Expert Tips  

  • DO keep it short: Your sympathy note should be sweet, sincere, and to the point — there is no need to go overboard especially because it’s likely that the bereaved will be receiving many condolences. Try to keep your message no more than five sentences. Start with a heartfelt greeting, share a brief story or memory about the descendent if you have one, and conclude by offering any type of assistance or support.   
  • DON’T make inappropriate comparisons: “I know how you feel” or “I understand your pain” or “he/she is in a better place” may feel like the right thing to say, but it is best to avoid statements of comparison or empathy (stick to sympathy). It’s impossible to know how someone feels, even if you’ve gone through a similar situation. Doing so may make the person receiving the letter feel as though their experience is being belittled. 
  • DO make it personal: When writing a condolence message or sympathy card, do your best to speak from the heart. If you can, try to recall a nice memory you have of the decedent or list several unique qualities you loved about them. It’s also nice to offer something specific at the end of your note — and something you will honestly follow through with (i.e. “I can babysit Sarah if you need a day to yourself.” or “I’d be happy to bring by some home cooked meals this week.”)
  • DON’T rehash the tragedy: There is no need to dwell on the specifics of the decedent’s passing in your condolence message. Leave your statement at “I’m sorry Molly passed away.” Don’t allude to any circumstances surrounding the death as it will likely only cause more pain and sorrow.  
  • DO respect the person’s religious preferences: You may not have any religious beliefs, but if the person who passed away was deeply faithful, it’s okay to say something like “Mark is in our prayers.” When it comes to mentioning anything in your sympathy note regarding religion, just be careful not to step on anyone’s toes. If you aren’t sure about the bereaved family’s religious values, stick to simply offering words of condolence and support. 

30 Condolence Message Examples 

When someone you know loses a loved one of any kind, it can be almost impossible to know what to say — but it’s crucial that you say something to offer comfort and support. While people often flock to social media to express their sympathies, nothing compares to a thoughtful, handwritten note.  Whether you know someone who has lost a spouse, child, sibling, parent, or pet, use the following examples to communicate your condolences:  

Loss of a Spouse 

  • “Your beautiful love story was an inspiration to all. Keeping [spouse’s name] in our hearts forever.” 
  • “You may be parted on earth, but your love will live on for eternity. Losses aren’t meant to be endured alone, so know that I am here for whatever you need.” 
  • “[Spouse’s name]’s sense of humor, generosity, and always positive attitude was a blessing to us all. He/she will forever be remembered and deeply missed. Please accept my sincere sympathies.” 
  • “When someone as special as your [husband/wife] dies, the grief feels unbearable. Just know his/her legacy will live on through the many lives he/she touched. Sending you infinite love.” 
  • “The loss of a spouse is a profound loss and we cannot imagine your grief. But I know that your incredible strength will get you through this tragic time. Please extend our sympathy to your wonderful family. You are all in our hearts and minds.”

Loss of a Child 

  • “When we lose a life on earth, we gain an angel in heaven. Sincere condolences to your grieving family for the immeasurable loss you suffered.”
  • “I cannot even begin to understand what you are going through at this time. May the care and love of those around you provide the comfort you seek. My most heartfelt condolences.” 
  • “I know there’s nothing I can say to take away the pain you and your family are feeling. Just know you have my full support in anything you need. We will miss [child’s name] every day.”
  • “Your [daughter’s/son’s] warmth and kindness touched everyone who knew her/him. The memories our families created together will last a lifetime. I’m so sorry for your heartbreak in this tragic time.”
  • “I feel lucky to have even just known your [daughter/son]. Her/his loss will be felt by everyone. I hope you can find comfort in knowing how many people were touched by her/his sweet soul.” 

Loss of a Sibling

  • “Your [brother/sister] was a beautiful soul and an inspiration to all. May he/she rest in eternal peace. I am always here for you.”
  • “I am truly sorry to hear about the loss of your [brother/sister]. I will never forget his/her kindness and generosity and will include you and your family in my prayers.” 
  • “I was both shocked and saddened to hear about the loss of your [brother/sister]. He/she was an incredible friend and I know the best sibling anyone could ask for. Please accept my sincerest condolences for your loss.”
  • “So sorry to hear the news about your [brother/sister]. Thank goodness for friends who can laugh and cry with you. I will look back at our memories together fondly and forever.” 
  • “Words don’t justify how I felt upon hearing the news of your loss. Your [brother/sister] may have passed, but his/her memory will live on. If I can help you share this burden in any way, I would be honored to do so.” 

Loss of a Parent

  • “I am honored and blessed to have known your [father/mother]. He/she never failed to make me smile. Please accept my sincerest condolences.” 
  • “The lessons and wise words we learn from our parents survive long after they pass. I hope that during this time, you can lean on your [father’s/mother’s] guiding light. He/she will never be forgotten.” 
  • “I will never forget your [father’s/mother’s] genuine spirit. May god give him/her eternal rest.” 
  • “Every once in a while, the world is graced with an exceptionally special person, and your [father/mother] was one of those people. The lives of those who were lucky enough to know [him/her] are forever changed for the better. My heart goes out to you and your family.” 
  • “In this time of great sadness, looking back on beautiful memories made can provide peace and comfort. Losing a parent can feel like losing a part of yourself and while the grief will last forever, so will your [father/mother] in your heart.” 

Suicide Loss 

  • “I am at a loss for words, and I know no words would do justice to describe my sympathies anyway. I pray that [decedent’s name] is at peace now.”
  • “I am just a phone call away and always ready to listen and grieve. My deepest sympathies.” 
  • “This is a true tragedy and I am so sorry for your pain.” 
  • “Your [ex: husband] was an amazing man and based on the wonderful words he always used to speak about you, I know you were an amazing partner. Call me to grieve, look back on wonderful memories, or if you ever need a laugh.” 
  • “I can’t possibly begin to understand how you are feeling or what you must be going through at this time. But I want you to know I am thinking of you, am always here for you, and will be a supportive friend forever.” 

Loss of a Pet 

  • “I know you considered your beloved [pet’s name] to be a member of your family. You and your family will be in our thoughts and prayers.”
  • “Your sweet [pet’s name] will live on in our hearts for eternity. Thinking of you as you grieve.” 
  • “All [type of pet] go to heaven. Wishing you comfort and peace in this difficult time.”
  • You and [pet’s name] were so lucky to have found each other. Know that I am thinking of you and just a phone call away.”
  • [Pet’s name] will be greatly missed. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need a friend.”

If you know someone in mourning, we hope these example condolence messages help to inspire your own. 

Loss of life — whether your own or that of a loved one — is always an emotionally taxing subject to broach. That’s why Trust & Will is here: to make the Estate Planning process as seamless and painless as possible. Don’t hesitate to reach out today if you have any questions about your or a loved one’s Estate Planning needs. Because having a plan is always better than the alternative.