What to Write in a Sympathy Card

Dealing with the loss of a loved one is never easy, and sometimes finding the right words to express your condolences can be difficult. If you worry that you might not have the right words in person, consider expressing your condolences with funeral flowers and a sympathy card.


The bereaved are dealing with a range of emotions that they may not express. People grieve differently, and it is best to show support regardless of their association with the deceased. Flowers are a way to show love and support.

When selecting flowers, you need to know that different flowers are associated with different emotions. Just as red roses depict love or passion, lilies and orchids are the popular choices for condolences. As you are choosing the flowers, you might want to figure out what to write in your sympathy card.

Are you unable to decide what to write? Don’t worry because we have gathered some examples for how to express your condolences through sympathy cards and funeral flowers.

What You Should Not Write in a Sympathy Card

Writing in a sympathy card can be an emotional yet daunting experience. As much as we’re aware that no words can ever offer the level of support and comfort capable of nullifying grief, it's still important to show concern and empathy through the words you write in a sympathy card.

Words can help the grieving feel supported, loved, and cared for while they mourn. Therefore, one needs to be thoughtful, honest, and write with heartfelt emotion. As much as sincerity goes a long way, it is only helpful when it is positive in this situation. Here are certain things you should not put in a sympathy card.

‘You’ll be fine,’ is a phrase no one wants to hear when they are grieving. The loss of a loved one will never completely stop hurting, but those who grieve will find ways to cope as time passes. Telling someone who is grieving that they will be fine eventually can be taken as an insinuation that one day they'll forget about the pain of the loss and perhaps forget their loved one.

‘Everything happens for a reason’ is a phrase that should not be used after someone has died. Seeing such a phrase in a sympathy card will probably aggravate the bereaved. This message lacks kindness, support, or affection. This is a generic term people use to make themselves feel better about a bad situation like a job layoff or a breakup. The phrase is not appropriate for the loss of a loved one.

‘Stay strong’ is another generic term, but this one cuts deep. This phrase insinuates that breaking down and mourning a loved one is a sign of weakness. This phrase is like saying that the bereaved should try to be strong in these times and limit the amount of emotions he or she displays. This phrase can be seen as rude and selfish.

Those phrases and other phrases like 'it was a blessing in disguise,' 'these things happen,' or 'it's a wake-up call' among other similar phrases should neither be uttered nor written in a sympathy card because they reflect no real sympathy.

Those are some examples of what to avoid. Now we can highlight the things you can write in your sympathy card.

What You Should Write in a Sympathy Card

You can always share a personal memory of the deceased. When one dies, all we have left are the memories they left behind. If you knew the deceased, you should have at least one memory of a happy moment you shared with him or her. Anything like a funny story about the deceased's quirks, how he or she impacted you, or a combination will do. Here's an example:

'Mark was such a funny friend. I remember when he singlehandedly drove four states so that he could purchase his favorite pie. He said the pie reminded him of the simpler times and how each slice was better than the last. Little did we know he had a thing for the waitress who is, of course, his wife today. He was a great friend that I shared a lifetime of memories with. Memories which now give me comfort as I'm sure yours do too. He will be missed.'

This message helps the bereaved, who, in this case, should be his wife, to remember her husband as the caring, funny, and empathetic person he was, regardless of how he died.

A short and heartfelt message will also suffice if you have no personal memories with the deceased. If you want to show your condolences to the bereaved, a letter like this will work:

'My heart aches for you and your family during this time. I can't begin to fathom what you may be going through, but I want you to know that death is not the end. Your beloved is still with us in love, spirit, and memory. I am here physically and emotionally for you, so if you need anything, please reach out to me.'

If you want to keep the message shorter, you can go with standard messages like 'He/she always put others first, he/she will be missed,' or 'It saddens my heart to know you're dealing with this loss. I'm here for you' and any other heartfelt messages. However, the general idea here is to inform the bereaved that you care about the loss and are available for support.

When deciding what to write a sympathy card, just try to be sincere and caring. When it comes to funeral flowers, white roses, hydrangeas, lilies, and orchids are the typical funeral flowers often gifted with the sympathy cards.

You can also go the extra mile of arranging a bouquet of the deceased's favorite flowers because a funeral should be filled with the deceased's favorite things as a way of paying last respects. If you are honest and sincere during times of loss and sadness, people will be comforted by your presence and your words.

If you need help selecting sympathy flowers or sending your condolences in a sympathy card, let our experienced florists at Red Rose Flowers serving areas around Salinas, CA help you communicate that you are there for others in times of need.

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