Nowadays, we’re often made aware of tragic losses via the internet. With this comes the ability to offer our condolences through Facebook comments and instant messaging. Although this may provide some level of comfort, sending flowers with a sympathy card can be a more thoughtful gesture during this time of grief.
Your local florist can help pick an appropriate flower arrangement, but getting your words right in the sympathy card can be a challenging task.
How should I start a sympathy message?
Rather than using casual language such as "Hi," sympathy messages usually begin with the word "Dear" or "Dearest" followed by the recipient's name.
If the bereavement flowers are being sent to an entire family, you can either begin the message by using each family member’s name or if you’re closest to one of the members, start your message with "Dear (recipient) and family."
What should I write in a sympathy message?
While you may be tempted to put down as many comforting words as possible, it’s best to keep your message brief, especially if you didn’t know the deceased all that well. Rather than rambling on, carefully select one or two sentences that relate best to the situation.
Keeping it short will also make it easier for the recipient. As their minds are already overwhelmed, they don't have time to read lengthy messages. Instead, keep your message concise and sincere.
Short sympathy message ideas
- "We are thinking of you during this difficult time".
- "May memories of (name of the deceased) and the love from your family and friends give you strength in the difficult days ahead."
- “(Name of the deceased) will be in our hearts and memories forever”.
- “Today and always, may loving memories bring you strength and comfort.”
- "Please know my loving thoughts are with you".
- "My heart is with you in your time of sorrow".
- "Sending our love and deepest sympathies to you and your family".
- “(Name of the deceased) will be within our hearts forever”.
- “May there be comfort in knowing that someone so special will never be forgotten”.
Don’t feel bad if you don’t know what to say. Death can leave us feeling overwhelmed, helpless, and upset. Telling the grieving recipient how you genuinely feel is usually a good idea, as long as it’s a respectful message.
Sympathy message ideas when you’re lost for words
- "No words can describe such a loss. Just know that you are in our thoughts".
- "My words can't express the sadness I feel after hearing about (name of the deceased) passing".
- "I know words do little to ease the pain you feel. Our hearts go out to you and your family."
- "I am deeply sorry to hear about the passing of (name of the deceased). Words fall short of expressing my sorrow for your loss.”
- "Although no words can take away the grief that you feel. May it be comforting to know that we are all thinking of you."
If you're religious, words of faith may bring you comfort in a time of loss, but make sure to be mindful of the recipient's personal beliefs when writing your message. If they aren't religious or you’re unsure of their faith, it’s generally best to stick to universally accepted expressions of sympathy, that avoid talking about “heaven,” “God,” and “prayers.”
On the other hand, if you know the recipient is religious, you may want to include a message that uses faith to comfort their loss, such as:
- "Our thoughts and prayers are with you".
- "May God comfort you at this time of grief".
- "Hugs and prayers to you and your family at this difficult time".
- "Keeping you close in our hearts and prayers as we think about the loss of (name of the deceased)".
- "Know that you and (name of the deceased) are in my prayers and thoughts".
When is it appropriate to write a longer sympathy message?
Keeping your sympathy message brief is generally the best option. If you were close to the deceased however, you may want to include a special memory.
Doing so may bring comfort to the recipient, as they can also reminisce and cherish their memories of the deceased.
Sympathy message ideas that include memories
- "We are deeply sorry about the loss of (name of the deceased). I will never forget their bright smile or contagious laugh. He/she will be in our hearts and memories forever".
- "(Name of the deceased) was such an extraordinary person. I feel so lucky that I got to know her/him. I remember when (talk briefly about a significant memory). I will never forget that moment. Sending my deepest condolences to you and your family."
- "Nobody could tell a joke like (name of the deceased). I'll forever cherish the memories I have with her/him. I can't imagine how difficult this time must be for you but know that I am always here if you need."
- "I can't express how much we loved and cherished (name of the deceased). He/she was such a strong man/woman. He/she touched the lives of many, and their memory will never be forgotten."
- "My heart aches for you and your family during this time. (Name of the deceased) was such an amazing person and they will be truly missed".
- "We are so sorry to hear that (name of the deceased) has passed. May it help you to know that he/she brightened so many lives with their kindness and generosity. We will never forget such a wonderful person."
Likewise, if you’re close with the recipient who is grieving, be sure to offer help where possible. Keep in mind that whatever offer you make, you’ll need to be able to follow through if they accept.
Sympathy messages that offer assistance
- "As you bear this terrible loss, always know that we are just a phone call away."
- " I will be here to support you through this difficult time with a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen."
- "Thinking of you and your family during this challenging time. Let me know how I can help in any way. I'll call soon to arrange a good night to bring over dinner."
- "I am so sorry for your loss. We are keeping you in our thoughts. Let us know if there is anything we can do, from walking (insert pet’s name here) to mowing your lawn, we are here for you."
How should I end a sympathy message?
Instead of writing "Regards" or "Yours Sincerely," it’s best to re-emphasise your condolences by ending your message with one of these phrases:
What shouldn’t I say in a sympathy message?
Although you want your sympathy message to be genuine and authentic, you need to consider your choice of words carefully. Specific phrases may be written with good intentions but can be perceived as insensitive or disrespectful by the recipient. Therefore, you should avoid saying things such as:
When is it too late to send sympathy flowers?
Sympathy flowers and messages are generally sent within the first few weeks after a person has passed away, but as mourning is a long process, it’s never too late to offer your condolences.
Feelings of grief are also often increased on occasions such as death anniversaries, birthdays of the deceased or during the holiday period. Therefore, you may also want to show your support by sending flowers on these occasions.
Sympathy message idea to send on a death anniversary:
- "It's so hard to believe it's been a year since (name of the deceased) passed. We are thinking of you at this time."
Sympathy message idea to send on the deceased’s birthday:
- "Just wanted to let you know we are thinking of (name of the deceased) on her/his birthday and are sending many loving thoughts your way."
Sympathy message idea to send during the holidays:
- "I know Christmas won't be the same without (name of the deceased) this year, but I hope that it may bring comfort to know that you're in our thoughts."
Can I include a quote in a sympathy message?
Although condolences are personal, your sympathy message isn’t restricted to your own words. You may also want to use an accompanying sympathy quote, such as those below.
- "What we have once enjoyed we can never lose… All that we love deeply becomes a part of us". ~ Helen Keller
- "The object is not to forget, but to remember to go on." ~ Author Unknown
- "Those we love and lose are always connected by heartstrings into infinity." ~ Terri Guillemets
- "Words will not wipe away your tears and hugs may not ease the pain but hold onto your memories because they will remain forever". ~ Author Unknown
- "To live in hearts, we leave behind is not to die". ~ Thomas Campbell
- "There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart". ~ Gandhi
- "I'm in it with you. I'm not here to feel it for you. I'm here to feel it with you and let you know you're not alone." ~Brene Brown
- "While we are mourning the loss of our friend, others are rejoicing to meet him behind the veil." ~ John Taylor
- "The sun, the moon, the wind, the stars, will forever be around, reminding you of the love you shared" ~ Author Unknown
- "Like a bird singing in the rain, let grateful memories survive in time of sorrow." ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
- "Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal". ~ From a headstone in Ireland
- "Those we love don't go away; they walk beside us every day. Unseen, unheard, but always near. Still loved, still missed, and very dear." ~ Author Unknown
- "Although it's difficult today to see beyond the sorrow, may looking back in memory help comfort you tomorrow." ~ Author Unknown
- "While we wait to see them again, we will live a life they would be proud of". ~ Author Unknown
There's no denying that sympathy messages are some of the most challenging words you'll ever have to write. While it may be difficult to decide what words to choose, flowers and a sympathy card will bring great comfort to someone who is grieving.