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How to Write a Sympathy Message

Updated: May 4, 2023

When writing a sympathy message, it can be difficult to put into words what you want to say. You want to make sure that the wording is just right and that your feelings are properly expressed. Many people let the opportunity pass them by, simply because they really don't know what to say, but this is a time that should bring people together, and a time to bring a loved one alive through the sharing of stories and telling family what they meant to you. If you are looking to write your own sympathy message but don’t know where to begin, here are some ideas and writing samples to help you:

1. Giving Condolences

A condolence is an expression of your sympathy for a loss. Typically when writing a condolence, the first thing that comes to your mind is the most authentic. This doesn’t have to be a long message. You can keep your personal sympathy message short, especially if you’ve already shared your condolences in person or if you didn’t know the deceased very well. Whatever the case, you will want your message to come across as caring and warm. You can fill in the blanks on your own condolence message:

“Please accept my most heartfelt sympathies for the loss of your …”

You and your family are in our hearts/minds/prayers for the loss of…”

My condolences on the passing of your…”

2. Appreciation for the Deceased

Your sympathy message is also a way to express just how highly you thought of the deceased individual. Family and close friends will often take great comfort in knowing how important and beloved their loved one is. If you truly admired the deceased, this is the time to let that be known. Some notes you can make in your message to show appreciation include:

“Your _____ touched so many lives for the good.”

I’m very grateful that I had the opportunity to know…”

“What a great person and what an amazing life.”

I am honored and blessed to have known…”

Additional Resource: How to Plan a Funeral Service

3. Acknowledge the Loved One’s Feelings

Helping to validate the loved one’s sadness in your message can help them get through a very overwhelming time. There are some very simple ways to say that you understand:

“This must be a difficult time for you”

“I’m sure your heart is aching.”

“My heart goes out to you and your family during this time.”

“I know that words are inadequate at a time like this, but I wanted you to know how very sorry my family is for your loss!”

4. Share a Memory

Many people who lose a loved one find that sympathy messages with personal memories mixed into it bring the most comfort. Sharing memories tend to help with the whole healing process and add warmth to your message. These memories can be a personal anecdote or something as simple as:

“I’ll remember _______ in so many positive ways.”

“________ always had a big smile and a terrific sense of humor.”

“___________ will always have a special place in my heart.”

5. Sympathy Closing

Last but not least, you want to make sure to end off your sympathy message with a real heartfelt closing. For example, you can sign your message with phrases like:

“with deepest sympathy”

“lifting you up in prayer”

“God bless you and comfort you”

This respectful closing is really a way to gracefully wrap up your condolences and show that they are at the centre of your thoughts and prayers. It is really tricky to write out a sympathy message that expresses everything you feel. A lot of times we can’t put our feelings into the proper words. Thankfully, by just writing up a sympathy message and sending it out to the grieving loved ones, the recipient will know you care.

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