Dear Ms. Cards Etiquette,
Can a sympathy card be hand delivered or is mailing it best?
This is a good question and one that can be debated. The purpose of a sympathy card is to let someone know they are in your thoughts. You are offering empathy and comfort by expressing your concerns for them during a difficult time. Often a card can say what spoken words cannot.
A sympathy card should be sent as soon as possible. Mailing such a card is certainly appropriate and correct and easier for both the sender and the receiver. At times a card can be hand delivered at a wake or viewing where often a basket or table is provided. However, if such a setup is not available, you may end up carrying the card back home with you and mailing it anyway.
What is important to remember is that the family is grieving and although your intention is to offer condolences, to drop by unexpectedly to hand deliver a card would not be wise. And it would also not be appropriate to hand a card to someone and expect them to open and read it immediately or to have to keep up with it.
A card received in the mail can be opened and read when the time is right. Your thoughtfulness will be appreciated and your card kept as a reminder of your warmth and compassion. A short hand written and heartfelt message on a nice sympathy card shows you care.