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Exactly What to Write in a Sympathy Card
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10 Thoughtful Things to Write in a Sympathy Card

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"I'm so sorry for your loss."

"I'm thinking of you."

Those are fairly generic lines to write in a sympathy card, but coming up with something stronger can feel challenging. Here are 10 thoughtful options. Steal them verbatim or edit so that they feel true to you.

1. “What do you say? There really are no words for that. There really aren’t. Somebody tries to say, ‘I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.’ People say that to me. There’s no language for it. Sorry doesn’t do it. I think you should just hug people and mop their floor or something.” -Toni Morrison. She’s right. I want to scream sorry, sorry, sorry. But sorry is so inadequate. Consider this card a long, hard hug.

2. I’m thinking of you now more than ever. I’ve set a reminder for the Xth [insert death date] of each month. I know every day will be tough, but those might be extra tough. There are a lot of people holding you in their hearts, and I want you to know with certainty that there is at least one person out there who is doing that extra hard on the Xth.

3. “But in all of the sadness, when you’re feeling that your heart is empty, and lacking. You’ve got to remember that grief isn’t the absence of love. Grief is the proof that love is still there.” -Tessa Shaffer. I’m thinking of your and [name of person who died]’s love. I’m sending my love your way.

4. I can only imagine how impossibly hard this is and how depleted you must feel. So I’m going to keep checking in—with letters, texts, and calls. Never feel like you have to respond. 

5. “Moving on, as a concept, is for stupid people, because any sensible person knows grief is a long-term project. I refuse to rush. The pain that is thrust upon us let no man slow or speed or fix.” -Max Porter. I know none of us can fix your pain. But I see it, and I know it’s going to be a long road, and I’m here for all of it.

6. I know getting through each day isn’t easy, but you are doing it. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. We’re all behind you, including [name of the person who died.]

7. “Sometimes it’s OK if the only thing you did today was breathe.” -Yumi Sakugawa. Amen! Keep your expectations of yourself low! Be gentle with yourself. You just have to make it through today.

8. Where there is a loss for words, there is not a loss for prayers. You are in mine daily. I'm praying for peace, for comfort, and for you to continue to feel enveloped in love.

9. You and [person who died] are in my heart today and always. It is a privilege to have known such an exceptional [man/woman/person].

10. When you need to borrow my heart to get you through tough times, call and it is yours.

For more, here are 8 tips on how to write a sympathy card.

If you're looking for a way to make an even greater impact, consider sending a Rainy Day Box. It's a collection of gifts meant to be opened over time, on your friend's timeline, on the days that feel unbearable. One customer's experience: My friend "said it was the most wonderful, thoughtful gift she had ever seen." Shop now.