When you think of greeting cards, your mind might immediately go to birthday celebrations or wedding invitations. But there are other kinds of letters you may have to write in your lifetime, and one of those is the sympathy letter.
Sympathy notes are by nature difficult to write. You may struggle with the right words to say and sometimes you may choose to just say nothing at all. But everyone going through a tough time could use some expression of support. Here are a few tips to guide you in composing a truly thoughtful and appropriate sympathy letter:
Choose the right stationery
Make sure you choose an appropriate card or personalized stationery design to pen your letter. The last thing you want is to send someone a note during a tough time featuring adorable cats or other funny images. Select an elegant design that speaks to the gravity of the moment.
Keep it simple
You don't have to worry about writing a novel. The recipient will appreciate the gesture, so just find a few words that express your condolences and write them down. Don't try to be profound. Words can't erase any sadness they feel, but the fact that you took time to say something will mean a lot.
Focus on them
This may sound simple, but oftentimes we try and compare our friend's experience with one of our own to relieve some of their pain. In this case, however avoid that tendency. Offer your sympathy, let them know you are there to help, and leave it at that. You can talk about a similar experience at another time.
Don't rush them through the process
Sometimes when we are sad, we try and push the feelings away by staying busy or focusing on something else. In your note to your friend, however, don't try and explain the loss away. Your friend needs to experience their grief in their own way, so the best way to approach this is to say something like, "I am here for you whenever you need me."
Include a memory
If you knew the person your friend lost, offer them a sweet story about a time you remember with them. It can be as short as one sentence: "I remember your mom made the best brownies," or a longer tale that can lift their spirits.
Sympathy notes are hard to write, but they serve an important purpose. They help you convey to your friend or loved one that you are there to support them through this difficult time, and that is a powerful thing. If it's hard to find the words, write from your heart.