The personal touch of a sympathy card is a warm and thoughtful way of continuing to reach out to someone you love.
But so many of us are intimidated by any sort of expression of sympathy, worried we’ll say the wrong thing or – a concern I’ve heard often – that we’ll just be reminding them of their loss – AS IF they have forgotten!
It’s worthwhile, kind and thoughtful to reach out to people we know that are grieving. While many of us might text our sympathy these days, there is a lack of weight to the receipt of a text message. We can’t hold it in our hands, see the craft and care that went into the hand-writing or selection of the card.
So, below are a few cards that I think would be lovely to hunt down or order to have on hand and some tips on what to write and NOT write in a sympathy card.
- Emily McDowell is a cancer survivor who may have just created the BEST “Empathy” cards out there. Please peruse her work for authentic, and sometimes laugh-out-loud sentiments that also profoundly hit home. She has a card for you, I promise. (these are available online at her website)
- If you feel like it’s been too long to send anything, SEND THIS!
- If you know someone going through chemo, send this.
- If you want the perfect card for unspecified pain, send this (it’s my favorite).
- Compendium’s line of Positively Green cards has some wonderful quotes that work beautifully for more formal relationships or serious-minded people. These cards are thoughtful, unique, and eco-friendly. Many of these can be found in stores as well.
And now a little bit about what not to send or say in your card.
- Do not use the words “at least” ANYWHERE in your card.
- Do not make promises you cannot keep.
- If you do not intend to reach out to them, don’t say you are “here” for them. Grieving people have a well-developed radar for faux-support and that phrase is just that. Proactively reach out again and again with kind, helpful gestures like meals or checking-in with a phone call or text.
- Don’t say, “I’m sorry for your loss.” They have heard this phrase on repeat and it holds nothing of substance.
So, give this a try:
- Write down a memory or special quality you loved about the person that died.
- Share a way that they’ve changed your life or perhaps a way in which you plan to remember and honor them.
- Be truthful. If this is hard for you to write, say that. If you don’t know what to say but you just love them, say that. You can’t mess that up and your honesty will be treasured.
Finally, just know that reaching out in this way is significant and meaningful. It doesn’t need to be elaborate or flowery. Sincere and from the heart – there’s nothing more meaningful than that.