What to write in a sympathy card

Going through loss is an incredibly difficult time for anyone and everyone deals with loss in their own way. There is no right or wrong way to act when you're processing the passing of a person or a pet.

Sometimes we are not sure how to express our condolences, so we've created a list of thoughtful phrases to write in a sympathy card. This list has been created for someone who needs some assistance with writing a sympathy card because sometimes we aren't always sure sure about what the right words to say are.

hand holding beautiful gold foiled sympathy card

Image features 'Sometimes there are no words' sympathy card (£2.00) >

Here are some ideas of what to write in a sympathy card to someone:


  • Your {mum} was an amazing person - it's ok to acknowledge the person has passed, it feels more personal that way too.


  • You were an fantastic caregiver - This can be a nice sentiment to read if someone was very close and looked after the person who has passed away.


  • I don't know what to say, but please know I am here whenever you need me - going through grief is different for everyone, it's important not to force yourself onto someone but at some point they will be ready to talk. 


  • I'm so sorry this happened - sometimes there are no words especially if it's been a sudden death.


  • Take all the time you need to heal at this difficult time - as we mentioned above, everyone copes differently with grief and it's important for that person to know there isn't a timeline for how long it will take for them to feel ok again.

 hand holding up a blue poppy sympathy card to a beautiful blue sky

Image features Blue poppy sympathy card (£2.00) >

What not to write in a sympathy card. 

Sometimes even if you have good intentions, some words may not come across the way you mean them. Some sensitive phrases to avoid might be:

  • 'He/She's in a better place now'
  • 'Be strong'
  • 'I know how you're feeling'
  • 'Everything happens for a reason'

hand holding tall sympathy card against blue sky

Image features  Blue roses slim sympathy card (£2.00) >

Do you give a gift with a sympathy card?

While not essential you can give a small gift with a condolence card, a lot of people give flowers but if you wanted to do something a bit different, a cooked meal is often well received or a small gift like a candle or potted plant is also a thoughtful gift for the bereaved to receive.


General tips for writing and choosing a sympathy card:

When writing a sympathy card it's important not to rush it, the message can be as long or as short as you like. If you struggle to find the exact words to write in a card you can choose a card with a short sentimental message which relates to how you're feeling. You can find a variety of thoughtful cards at whistlefish.com to help relay your condolence message.

See more Sympathy cards here >




I would like to see more cards without a greeting so they can be used for a multiple of occasions.

Pam Boffey March 30, 2024

I regularly buy your greetings cards and always stock up. I would like to see a few more grandsons cards as I have twin grandsons and don’t want to buy them the same card and there is only a choice of 3 and one of them is for a young child. It would be so helpful if you could have more.
Thank you

Gill Hudson March 29, 2024

A helpful thought, cards and messages.
However I do wish that all your Christmas cards and I did get some earlier, have a not always appropriate message. Wishing ,someone whose partner has died after 50 years , A merry Christmas and happy new year, isn’t quite right. Of course you want to send good wishes. My sister’s husband was killed near Christmas some years ago. She said most people didn’t send her a Christmas card that year, which made her sadder.
Fortunately I’ve got some cards from our local hospice, that say ‘best wishes for Christmas and The New Year. Something perhaps to think about in future years. I do enjoy choosing individual cards for friends your cards are perfect for that. I don’t have packs of 10 friends!!

Madelaine Clay November 14, 2022

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