Sooner than we want, we need to write sympathy cards. Not all cards available at the drug store work well. It’s far kinder to write your own note. Nothing is more comforting than a hand-written note to a friend in mourning.
Knee-jerk reaction reaches for “I am sorry for your loss,” and while there is nothing wrong with the thought, it’s been overused so much that it’s a threadbare hand-me-down from your heart.
Other things not to put in a sympathy card:
“I know exactly how you feel, my _______ died last year.” Even worse is when you are comforting someone who is mourning the death of a human and your pet died.
“Your loved one is with God now.” You don’t know what happens after death, and if you don’t know what the other person’s religious beliefs are (or aren’t), leave predictions out of it.
“You can be happy their suffering is over now.” The word “happy” or “glad” or “relieved” should not appear in a condolence card. Ever.
“Everything happens for a reason.” Maybe that’s what you believe, but it cheats the other person out of mourning and demands that they cheer up.
“It could be worse. This friend of mine. . .” This is not the time to share drama in your life. It will not make your friend feel better about their loss.
“God never gives you more than you can handle.” Again, this makes a person in mourning feel that they should handle their grief better. Everyone mourns in their own way.
Things you can say:
“May your memories comfort you.”
“Our thoughts [or prayers] are with you and your family.”
“Our hearts go out to you in this sad time.”
“We remember [the person who died] with loving memories.”
“May you be surrounded by the love and comfort of friends and family.”
Use a soft-color stationery–cream, gray, blue. No pink or yellow, and nothing with a bright floral theme. No typing and printing it in a handwriting font. Use a pen and hand write the words as if you were speaking to your friend. It’s more comforting.
And your friend will stay your friends and be there to comfort you when you need it.
–-Quinn McDonald is comforting a friend at the sudden death of her husband. Some of what she hears said is odd, bordering on strange.