At some point and time in all our lives we will have to write a Sympathy Card. Unlike the other more joyous occasions like congratulating a couple on the new arrival of their baby, the Sympathy Card can be very difficult to compose.
The following tips are meant to be suggestions to help with the composition
of a Sympathy Card.
This can be a very confusing time for grieving families. Be sure to clearly identify yourself no matter your method of expressing sympathy is (i.e. use your surname if you are not an immediate family member and make sure your return address is available on the envelope).
Attempt to send your Sympathy Card as soon as you hear about the death. If you do not have access to a store where you can purchase a card, you could compose a note on personal stationery, or send an electronic eCard .
In some cases you may have known the deceased but not be too familiar with the family of the deceased. You should send the Sympathy Card to the closest relative of the person who has died (i.e. the widow or eldest child). In the case where you are familiar with the person grieving, but not the deceased themselves, you can address your Sympathy card to your acquaintance.
Having not known the deceased can often cause serious writers' block. A simple line of condolence is sufficient in this case, rather then trying to imagine what this person meant to the individual(s) grieving.
If you feel comfortable doing so, offer your assistance wherever it might be needed. Some people may not feel comfortable asking, but if they see the offer in writing they will know you are sincere.
Condolence Card Message
All of us dread having to write any form of condolence letter or card. They can be the hardest and saddest things you'll ever have to write. It is always difficult to know what to write in a condolence letter; what should be said and what thoughts should be conveyed.
By structuring what you have to say, you'll be sure to convey all your sentiments in a clear way. Condolence messages mean a great deal to people but we often hesitate to send cards of sympathy for fear that by expressing our sadness we will hurt the bereaved even more.
However, the grieving person takes enormous comfort in the fact that their grief is acknowledged. People can often feel very isolated if their sorrow is ignored, and there is nothing more encouraging than receiving words of support in times of distress. It validates their feelings to be told, "I know what has happened." "I understand that you are hurting."
While the choice of any appropriate card and a simple "Thinking of you at this difficult time", "With sincere sympathy" or "Our prayers are with you" will always be much appreciated, you may wish to express a more personal message to touch and soothe the heart of the bereaved.
Here are three steps to writing a condolence card:
Acknowledge that the sad event has occurred.
While the exact nature of the death need not be dwelt upon especially if it was of a particularly shocking or untimely nature, it will to some extent dictate the tone of your card. Recognition of the death recognizes the mourners' grief and is a kindness.
Remember the loved one.
Above all, a condolence card should be a tribute to the deceased. Mourners want to hear about their loved ones. Recounting any warm personal memories can be extremely powerful to the healing process. Remembering any particular positive attribute gives meaning to and honors the deceased's life.
Offer hope for the future.
If the loss is profound as with the death of a spouse, often one of the most difficult aspects is the feeling of profound loneliness. By reassuring the bereaved person that your thoughts are with them helps to lessen their feelings of isolation.
If the loss is particularly tragic, such as that of a child, the magnitude of the loss can be so overwhelming that it can scarcely be comprehended. In cases such as these it is particularly important to weave into your message words of warmth and comfort and to mention any qualities you admire in the bereaved to give them the confidence they need to move forward.
Even two or three lines can be intensely meaningful and bring an immense amount of comfort. The tone and content of any message will be determined by the relationship between you and the bereaved as well as your own relationship with the deceased. Try to imagine what the bereaved person would most like to hear. Above all your message should sound natural, sincere and written from the heart.
1984 Chain Bridge Road
McLean, VA 22102
1984 Chain Bridge Road
McLean, VA 22102