Knowing what to write in a sympathy card, or what to say during life’s most tragic and hard times, can be difficult. Etiquette guidelines can help, and as Southerners, we know that giving a card with condolence message, sending flowers with a sympathy quote, or bringing a covered dish are good options for expressing our support and well wishes. But it’s next to impossible to know what to say in a sympathy card; finding the right words can be quite difficult.

The first step in extending a hand during life’s tragedies is simply to do it — often, it’s the act of reaching out and trying that matters most. But if you can share words that may comfort those who are mourning, writing a sympathy message is well worth the effort. We’ve gathered a few messages of compassion that may help you find the words when you just don’t know what to say, when you’re so saddened that it’s hard to get perspective, or when you want to help and you just don’t know how. When you’re at a loss for the right expression of sympathy, these condolence messages and sympathy quotes can help you find words of comfort for friends and family. Looking for advice on what to do at the funeral or how to get through a memorial service? Find tips on funeral etiquette here.

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What to Say When Someone Dies

No matter whether a death is expected or not, it always comes as a shock. How do you know what to say when someone passes away? What happens when you want to share words of comfort for a friend, but the words just won’t come, and you’re left staring at a blank card? These condolence messages will help you find the words to write in a sympathy card; simply share and sign your name, or use them as a way to begin, then conclude with your own thoughts and wishes for the grieving family.

  • Deepest sympathies. I am so sorry for your loss.
  • Sending you positive thoughts and lots of prayers.
  • You’re in my thoughts. Let me know if I can help with anything.
  • There are no words to convey how terrible this is. You are in my prayers.
  • Sending you all the good vibes I can.
  • I’m available for grocery deliveries, kid pickups, babysitting, making dinner — whatever you need.
  • There’s no wrong way to grieve. You’re doing it beautifully, although I hate that you have to do it.
  • I’m here if you need me.
  • Lean on me; I’m happy to be your shoulder to cry on.
  • Wishing you all the peace and comfort possible.
  • Warm thoughts for you on these chilly, lonely nights.
  • When you are ready, I am here for you.
  • I’m praying every day for your comfort and for you to be able to find joy again. I love you.
  • Please know that however you’re feeling right now — sad, numb, guilty, tired, angry — it’s normal. There’s no right way to feel. I love you and am so sad that you’re going through this.
  • I want to be present for you, but I don’t know how. Please know I’m thinking of you and praying for you, and if there’s anything else I can do, don’t hesitate to let me know.
  • I usually get up at the crack of dawn to go for my run — if you’re overcome by grief and want to talk about it one of these mornings, please know that you can call me, even if the sun’s not up yet! I know that grief doesn’t wait for “business hours.”
  • You know that I’m always up until at least midnight — please know that you can give me a call if you need to talk to someone, even if it’s super late. And if you don’t want to talk and just want to know there’s another person on the other end of the line, that’s okay, too.
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What to Write in a Sympathy Card

Finding words of sympathy that can comfort your friends, family, and loved ones during a time of grieving is very difficult. Simply signing your name doesn’t seem like enough, but often, anything else you think of seems trivial or trite. We’ve gathered a few tried-and-true sympathy card messages to make the process a little bit easier; use one as-is in a sympathy card, or add your own unique touch to one of these ideas.

  • Our hearts are breaking for you
  • With sympathy and well wishes
  • Wishing you comfort during this dark time
  • With sympathy and love
  • In memoriam
  • With all our love
  • We are so sorry for your loss
  • Our prayers and thoughts are with you
  • We will always remember
  • In celebration of a beautiful life
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Short Condolences Messages

Sending flowers is a lovely way to express condolences for a loss. But whether you’re sending flowers to a funeral for someone who’s experienced a family loss or ordering a special bouquet to brighten the day of a friend who lost a pet or learned about an illness, it’s kind to include a sympathy message for the flowers that you send. A short condolence message is appropriate when it’s added to a small card, but how do you find the words to say when you don’t have much space? Our short condolences messages may help.

  • Our hearts are breaking for you; we hate that you’re going through this.
  • I’m so sorry for your loss. Please don’t hesitate to call if I can help with anything.
  • Thinking of you and hoping there is sunshine in your life soon.
  • I’m just a phone call or a text away. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.
  • The sky is so gray for you right now; I hope the clouds part soon.
  • Life has given you lemons. I’ll give you vodka. Let’s get drinks soon.
  • Roses are red; sorry you’re blue!
  • I’m so sorry you’re going through this.
Getty Images / Benjamin Torode

Sympathy Quotes

After you’ve shared your own words with a friend, sometimes you also want to share the wisdom of others. Comforting quotes about death from authors, philosophers and religious teachers of the past can help us communicate our own expressions of sympathy; here are a few condolences quotes that have brought us comfort in the past.

  • “Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” – Helen Keller
  • "Grief is the price we pay for love." — Queen Elizabeth II
  • “Death is nothing else but going home to God, the bond of love will be unbroken for all eternity.” — Mother Teresa
  • “I wanted a perfect ending ... Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.” — Gilda Radner
  • "There is no greater sorrow than to recall happiness in times of misery." — Dante
  • “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The gray rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.“ — J.R.R. Tolkien
  • “Death? Be as proud as you want: bore me later, because Love is sovereign here. Life never ends. Joy comes in the morning. Glory hallelujah. And let it be so.” — Anne Lamott
  • "It is not length of life, but depth of life." — Ralph Waldo Emerso
  • “Grief when it comes, it is nothing like we expect it to be.” — Joan Didion
  • “When we are learning the world, we know things we cannot say how we know. When we are relearning the world in the aftermath of a loss, we feel things we had almost forgotten, old things, beneath the seat of reason.” — Meghan O’Rourke
  • “Unable are the Loved to die/ For Love is Immortality.” — Emily Dickinson, Poem 809
  • “There is love in holding and there is love in letting go.” — Elizabeth Berg
  • "There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart." — Gandhi
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Condolences Prayers

There’s no greater comfort at the time of a loss than the word of God; Bible verses remind us that we are a part of a bigger story, that we have a friend that sticks closer than a brother during times of trouble, and that we will be able to see our loved ones again someday. But sometimes it’s difficult to find just the verse we’re looking for when we want to share sympathy verses and prayers with those closest to us who’ve suffered a loss. Here are a few passages from scripture that are appropriate to share when a loved one has died.

  • The Lord your God is with you, and he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. — Zephaniah 3:17
  • Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. — Matthew 11:28-30
  • Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll — are they not in your record? — Psalm 56:8
  • My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. — Psalm 62:1-2
  • Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him. — Psalm 126:5-6
  • So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. — Isaiah 41:10
  • But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. — Job 23:10
  • The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. — Psalm 29:11
  • Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. — Psalm 55:22
  • When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. — Isaiah 43:2-3a
  • I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. — Isaiah 45:3
  • Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. — Jeremiah 33:3
  • Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, The Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait for him. — Lamentations 3: 21-24
  • Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. — 2 Corinthians 1: 3-5

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

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Sympathy Messages for Loss of Mother

When someone loses a mother, their whole world turns upside down. Nothing can change such a huge loss, but words of sympathy for the loss of a mother may encourage those grieving to reach out to you when they’re ready for comfort.

  • I’m so sorry that you’ve lost someone who you and your family loved so much.
  • Her legacy lives on in you; you are a beautiful person, spouse, parent and friend.
  • I’m sure you made your mother so proud; I’m sorry her light is gone from your life.
  • You’ve experienced such a huge loss in saying goodbye to your mother. When you’re ready, I’d love to hear more about who she was to you and what your times together were like. Please call if you’d like to share memories; I’ll bring a bottle of wine.
  • I know this is a loss that hits you so deeply. You are a wonderful mother, and I know the grief at losing your own mom must be so difficult to navigate.
  • I loved your mother’s smile and her welcoming personality. I can’t believe she’s gone; I’m so sorry for your loss.
  • Your stories of your mother make it clear that she was a warm and welcoming person. I see that spirit live on in you, and I’m so sorry you have to suffer through this time.
  • I know this Mother’s Day is very difficult for you. I wanted you to know that I’m remembering your mother today, as I’m sure you are. If you’d like to grab a coffee and share memories about her, I’m available.
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Sympathy Messages for Loss of Father

Losing a father is one of life’s most difficult things to bear, and it’s hard to know what to say to comfort those who are grieving a parent. Our words of sympathy for the loss of a father may help friends and family members know that you’ll be there for them when they’re ready to talk, cry or grieve with you.

  • He was a rock for all of us, but I know he was even more than that for you. I’m so sorry for your loss.
  • His influence is obvious in the way you parent and the way you live your life. You are your father’s legacy, and he must have been so proud of you.
  • I know you feel unmoored and so sad right now; if there’s anything I can do to help you, your mother or your family with household tasks, paperwork or errands, please let me know.
  • I can’t believe he’s gone, and I know the shock is even greater for you. I hope memories of the happy times you had together can be of some comfort during this incredibly difficult time.
  • Your father had such an amazing laugh! He was always so happy to put everyone at ease with a joke or a hug. I’m so sad for you and sorry such a wonderful person is gone.
  • I always love hearing your stories of you and your dad — I know he was a larger than life presence in your life, and that you loved him very much. I’m so sorry he’s gone. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you and your family.
  • I know this Father’s Day must be very hard for you since you lost your dad earlier this year. Please know that I’m thinking about you and your family and praying for you today in particular.
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Quotes for the Loss of a Child

There’s nothing that can truly soothe a parent when they lose a child; it’s a tragedy that’s beyond compare. But not knowing what to say or what to do during this horrible time is not a good excuse for staying silent or staying away; although they may not be able to be thankful or engaged, a grieving parent needs to know they have people they can rely on when life has betrayed them. These words of comfort for the loss of a child cannot heal the wounds of the parents who are grieving, but they may be able to show the parents that you’re there for them when they need help or when they’re ready to talk.

  • The world has taken your most precious love, and my heart is broken for you. We are praying for you and love you.
  • The phrase “there are no words” seems like the only thing that fits right now. I cannot fathom what you’re going through, but I love you and am thinking of you.
  • Life seems incredibly cruel and arbitrary right now; I cannot find meaning in what has happened. I love you and will be thinking of you and praying for you. If I can do anything more, please let me know how I can help.
  • I cannot imagine how awful and bleak your world looks right now. I’m praying that hope and comfort flood your life during this dark time.
  • This is the most awful thing that could have happened, and I cannot believe that it happened to you, such a wonderful person. It’s unfair and horrible, and I’m so sorry.
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Words of Sympathy for Loss of Husband or Wife

Experiencing the death of a spouse is usually a shock and a tragedy; the spouse who’s left bereaved often has double the responsibilities to deal with on top of grief and sadness. Sharing a condolence message in a card or with flowers is a kind way to tell the grieving widow or widower that you’re there for them and can help with errands, food, comfort and conversation whenever they are ready.

  • I have so many happy memories of the two of you; if you ever want to reminisce about the happy times, I’ll come over … and I’ll bring wine.
  • I know your heart is broken and your life has turned inside out. I love you and am praying for you.
  • You’ve lost your life partner, and your love. Nothing can replace him. I certainly can’t, but I can bring you groceries. I will do anything and everything that you need.
  • I wish there were more I could do to heal your broken heart, but I cannot. I can help organize files, make phone calls on your behalf, and help you sort through the logistics and awful paperwork that comes from losing a spouse — I’m available to help in that way if you need me.
  • I cannot imagine how much you are hurting right now; I know the road ahead of you is long, and I will walk with you along it as much as I can.
  • You’ve lost your other half, and you feel incomplete and lost. I hate that you have to suffer through this; I love you and will be here for you whenever you need me.
  • Call me or text me any time — I mean it. When you’re scared in the middle of the night, when you’re angry at 3 p.m. on a Tuesday, when you’re sad or frustrated or even when you want to remember the happy times, I am here for you. You can even call just to irrationally yell at me when you just need to take it out on someone. I mean it! I love you so much.
  • I’ve used an app to send you $50 for babysitting money; if there’s anything else I can do to help you get through this time, don’t hesitate to ask.
  • I’m happy to take the kids out for a few hours whenever you need some time. You can do errands, cry, stare at the wall, binge watch bad TV, whatever — I won’t ask. Just text me and I’ll be there. 
Getty Images / Thomas Tolstrup

Words of Sympathy for Loss of Sister

The death of a sibling is so difficult, and when your friend loses a sister, finding a way to provide comfort is tough. Of course, nothing can truly heal the loss of a sister, but condolences can help show kindness and let your friend know that you’re available when they are ready to reach out for more.

  • I cannot imagine the depth of this loss for you; your family is broken and will never be the same. Please know that I’m thinking of you and hoping for healing wherever it is possible.
  • I love you, and I know she loved you, too. I’m so sorry that the world, and your family in particular, has lost such a bright light.
  • You shared so many memories with your sister, and I hope those can be bright for you during this time. If you’d ever like to share remembrances together about her, I’d love that.
  • She meant so much to all of us, but I know that she meant the most to you. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you and your family during this dark time.
  • I didn’t know your sister, but I’d like to know more about her. If you ever want to remember her or share, I would like to hear about who she was and your times together.
  • I wish I had the right words, but I just don’t. Just know that I care, and I want to help in any way I can.
  • I don’t know how you feel, and I won’t pretend to. But I do love you, and if there’s anything I can do for you right now, I’m happy to do it.
Getty Images / Jeff Bergen

Sympathy Quotes for Loss of Brother

The loss of a sibling is traumatic and difficult, and when a friend loses a brother, it’s difficult to find the right words to say. The most important thing to do is let your friend know you’re there for them when they need you and to share some special memories of their brother to help them remember the good times. These words of sympathy for the loss of a brother may also help get you started with a message to write in the condolence card.

  • The world has lost a good man, and you have lost a brother. This is a loss for all of us, but the grief and sorrow that you feel is the deepest and most poignant and personal. Please reach out if there’s any way we can help.
  • I cannot imagine a world without your brother, and I know you can’t either. The memories of him will always be with us, and I was so thankful to know him. I know your heart is breaking now; if there’s anything I can do, please let me know.
  • I didn’t know your brother well, but I know that you loved him. I’m so sorry for your loss, and I hope you’ll reach out if there’s anything I can do.
  • I have such amazing memories with your brother. He was giving and funny and full of life, and I can’t believe that he’s gone. If you ever want to share stories about his life, I’d love to share some of my favorite memories of him and hear yours.
  • Losing a sibling is so horrible, and I’m sorry you’re having to go through it.
  • You know I’m only a phone call or a text away if you want to talk, scream or cry. 
Getty Images / Arman Zhenikeyev

 How to Write a Condolence Letter

Writing a condolence letter is a challenge; you want to share comforting words, but you don’t want to be trite or accidentally say the wrong thing. When writing a sympathy letter, a little bit of guidance can go a long way. Use our condolence letter sample for help writing a kind note to a friend or family member who’s experience a loss.

Dear [Bereaved],

I was so sorry to hear about the passing of [your loved one]. I know you loved [him/her] very much, and it’s hard to imagine life without [him/her]. You must be feeling everything from numbness to anger, from sadness to frustration, and everything in between. Grief is such a complex part of life, and everything you’re feeling right now is normal, even though it seems strange and is so difficult to navigate.

I hope that, even though your world is so dark right now, you are soon able to see some light in the memories you had with [your loved one]. I cherish the memories I have of [him/her], and I’m so thankful that those times will be a part of my life forever. I know that you will never forget [him/her], and I hope you’re able to soon remember the happy memories and hold tight to them. If you’d ever like to get together to share stories about [your loved one], I’d love to; I’ll bring over snacks and wine, or we could meet for coffee — whatever you’d like.

In the meantime, I’d love to help with errands, babysitting, washing dishes, picking up groceries, or whatever else you need. Finding your way to a new normal will be difficult, and these daily tasks can seem incredibly overwhelming in the wake of a loss. If I can help in any way, please know that I’m only a text away. We don’t have to talk at all if you don’t want to; I’m happy to just drop off groceries on your doorstep if that’s what you need.

Thank you for letting me share how much [your loved one] meant to me. I know you were closer to [him/her], and your grief must seem insurmountable. Please know that I’m thinking of you and praying for you, and I’d love to help if there’s anything else you need.

Yours,

[Your name here]

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Condolences Email for Coworker

Letting your coworker know that you care about them when they’re experiencing grief is an important and difficult thing to do. If you only have an email address for your coworker, you can still reach out and send a condolences email of support. Here’s a template for a good place to start when composing a sympathy email for a coworker.

  • I’m so sorry for this loss; I know times like this are so tough, and I hate that you’re going through this. Even though we’re not incredibly close, if you think of anything I can do for you or your family, I’d love to help. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do.
  • I heard about your loss, and I wanted to let you know that I’m so sorry. It’s difficult to get through times like this, and I hope that you’re able to find the comfort and strength that you need. Please know that I’m thinking of you and pulling for you.
  • I know this is a bit awkward, but I wanted to acknowledge your loss and say that I’m so sorry. It can be difficult to express these things in the workplace, and I know that you might feel displaced as you go through the motions of being back at work. I just wanted you to know that I’m thinking of you and your family during this dark and difficult time.
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Sympathy Text Messages

  • No one can ever prepare us for the loss of a loved one. Your strength is admirable. Remember that I’m here for you.
  • Thinking of you. Praying for your peace and comfort during this difficult time. :folded_hands:
  • Sending my most heartfelt sympathy to you and your family. :heart::heart:
  • My heart goes out to you, and I wish you nothing but comfort and strength. Rest in peace. :folded_hands:
  • Cherish all of your wonderful memories. I’m here for you. :two_hearts::two_hearts::two_hearts:
  • Please know that I’m thinking of you. These are trying times, and I’m here for you if you ever need me, no matter the hour.
  • I don’t know how you feel, but I am here to help in any way I can.
  • Sending you a virtual hug. I’m here for you! :heart::two_hearts::heart:

How to Sign a Sympathy Card

What’s the right way to sign a sympathy card? It’s not inappropriate to simply sign your name, but if you’d like to add an extra touch and a few more comforting words, here are some ideas for how to sign a card on funeral flowers or a sympathy note. And if you’re planning on sending a covered dish with your note, take a peek at Classic Comfort Dishes You’ll See at Every Southern Funeral Spread for ideas about what to bring.

  • With all our love,
  • You’re in our prayers,
  • Wishing you comfort and peace,
  • In remembrance,
  • Hoping you find light in this darkness,
  • You are not alone,
  • We are here for you,
  • I’m so sorry for your loss,
  • Call or text if you need anything,
  • With deepest sympathy,