Q:

What should be included when writing someone a sympathetic message?

A:

Quick Answer

A sympathy message should include condolences for the recipient's loss and a fond memory of the deceased, if the writer has one. A specific offer of assistance is appropriate, but financial assistance is not, according to Catholic Company.

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Full Answer

In times of loss, people typically like to hear from friends and family, so any sympathy message is appreciated. A common way to express condolences is by writing "I'm deeply sorry for your loss." Recipients of sympathy cards also usually enjoy hearing about memories other people have of the deceased.

An offer of assistance could include bringing the recipient meals or helping him with errands. The offer shouldn't be open-ended, as that places the burden on the recipient.

The writer should sign the message with his full name, as other relatives or friends could share his first name. If the family doesn't know the writer well, he can include information on how he knows the deceased.

Emails or social media posts are acceptable for sympathy messages, but Catholic Company recommends sending handwritten cards and avoiding humorous cards. Flowers are also appropriate to send with a card.

Follow up messages can help with the grieving process. Good times to send these include important dates, such as holidays, the deceased's birthday and anniversaries.

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