Keep it real: How to write a message of sympathy - GreenAcres Group


Keep it real: How to write a message of sympathy

June 19, 2023

When someone dies, you may want to send their loved ones a message of sympathy. But finding the right words can be extremely difficult, especially if you find yourself overthinking what to say.

While many of us worry about writing the wrong thing, there’s no ‘right’ way to express your condolences. A short message to show that you’re thinking of the friends and family members left behind is more than enough. After all, it’s the thought that counts the most.

If you’re struggling to write a message of sympathy, we’ve got some tips and advice on what to think about along with some ideas to get you started.

Hand write the letter

While you can type up a letter or buy pre-written sympathy cards, it’s far more personal if you hand write your message of sympathy. You can write the message inside a card if you wish, but try to include a more personalised note mentioning the deceased if you can.

A hand written message feels more sincere, and is a respectful way to show how the person who died left a lasting impression on your life.

Keep it simple

Your message of sympathy doesn’t have to be long. As long as you write your letter from the heart, you can show you care in a few simple words.

If you’re struggling to find the right thing to say, think about what you might like to read if you were in the other person’s shoes. You won’t be able to ease their pain, but you can at least let them know you’re thinking of them in this difficult time.

Acknowledge their loss

When someone dies, it’s natural to feel unsure about how to approach the situation. While you don’t need to talk about how the person died, acknowledge the loss and express how sorry you are. Tiptoeing around the subject can make things feel more painful for the bereaved.

You could say something like:

  • “I was saddened to learn about the passing of…”
  • “I want to let you know how sorry I am for your loss”
  • “Please accept my deepest condolences”
  • “I’m sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you”

Some people find it hard to accept condolences, but it still helps to know that the person who died was loved and respected. Whatever you write, let your heart guide you. You can always go back and tweak your message in a second draft if you need to.

Share a memory

Writing about a fond memory you have of the person who died may bring some comfort to the bereaved. Sharing memories is also one of the best ways to keep their spirit alive.

By expressing how those memories made you feel in your message of sympathy, you can bring a few moments of happiness to the bereaved. You may also remind yourself of some fond times in the process. This can help you with your own grieving process.

Offer your support

If you’re in a position to help the bereaved, let them know in your sympathy message. They’re bound to have lots to sort out, so they may be happy to take you up on your offer. You could offer to do the weekly shop, bring them some homecooked meals or help with the funeral arrangements.

If you make any promises, be sure to keep them. The bereaved will need people they can rely on when times get tough.

Finish the message with kind and compassionate words

End your message with a few thoughtful words to reiterate your support and condolences. At this point, try to avoid giving words of advice. Though you undoubtedly mean well, everyone grieves differently. What worked for you may not work for them. Instead, you could say something like:

  • “You’re in our thoughts”
  • “With our deepest condolences”
  • “Our heart goes out to you”
  • “Please accept our condolences”

Leave an address so that the bereaved can reach you if they wish to get in contact.

If you’re dealing with grief, we’re here to help. You may find it helpful to connect with others who have lost someone too. We have a wonderful nurturing community through our GreenAcres Bereavement Support Groups, which run once a month in every Park; please see our events page for more information. Find out more by visiting the events page on our website.

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