A sympathy card can provide a meaningful source of comfort to those grieving the loss of a loved one. A professionally printed sympathy card provides thoughtful words to a friend or acquaintance who is mourning. The card, along with a hand-written sentiment or gift, can express words of care and concern to a closer friend or family member. During times when spoken words do not come easy, the sympathy card conveys both respect for the deceased and empathy for the grieving.

Appropriate Sympathy Cards

There is no perfect formula for determining what type of sympathy card is an appropriate expression of condolence for the one who has lost a loved one. One factor affecting the decision is the relationship shared with the person grieving. Another factor is the expectations that the recipient might have upon the kind of message that would be meaningful.

As a general rule, the more distant the relationship the less original and personal the words need to be. A sympathy card purchased from a card store can be an appropriate expression of sorrow to the newspaper carrier or the pharmacist that you see occasionally but appreciate their contributions to your life.

Who Sends a Sympathy Card

A sympathy card is always an appropriate expression of care and condolence from anyone who has connections with either the deceased or the surviving family. A closer relationship might find a sympathy card with a handwritten sentence of condolence following the printed message a more appropriate expression. Some relationships may require a card plus a personal visit or call. Although there is no “right or wrong,” the more personal the relationship, in general the more personal the expression of condolence can be.

When to Send a Sympathy Card

It is generally appropriate to send a sympathy card as soon as word is received about the death of the family member, friend or co-worker. A follow-up note expressing the grieving family is still in thoughts and prayers is an additional way to send a message of care.

How to Select a Sympathy Card

Below are some guidelines to help find the right card for conveying the feelings of loss.

  1. Find a card that visually expresses your feelings and relationship with the one who is grieving. Colors, pictures, fonts and shapes all express feelings and emotions.
  2.  Look for words and expressions that capture the thoughts that you are feeling and the style and tone of your communication.
  3.  Select a card that uses a poem, quote or religious saying that has been meaningful on other occasions.

A carefully selected sympathy card, sometimes accompanied by a brief, hand-written thought, can provide a lasting expression of comfort and care for the bereaved.