One of the most effective and sincere ways to offer condolences during a difficult period of grieving is through a sympathy card. Although some condolence cards will come with a pre-printed message, you can always add your own personal messages of comfort and sympathy.
However, you may fear saying the wrong things in your written gesture of comfort. Which thoughts are better left unexpressed in a sympathy card? And is it okay to talk about your own experiences of loss, too?
4 Messages You Should Leave Your Sympathy Card Without
Here are some sentences which you should edit out of your sympathy message.
- What a devastating loss.
If there’s someone who knows exactly how devastating the experience really is, it’s your friend or colleague. Thus, expressing the magnitude of the loss in your written message is neither necessary nor considerate. And even if you speak of your own experience of loss, not everyone will experience the same event in the same way. Telling your friend that you know exactly how it feels can sound selfish or egotistical. Instead, you can simply say, “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
- You should not dwell on your pain too much.
Losing someone to death is certainly one of the most painful blows anyone will experience in his or her lifetime. It is better to tell your friend instead that it’s okay to grieve and cry. Saying that they should not dwell on the pain may be interpreted as a trivialization of their grief. As much as possible, do away with the words, “you should”, unless the receiver of the sympathy card has specifically requested for your advice.
- Think of your children; they need you too.
It’s okay to feel concern for the children, especially if your friend has just lost a spouse or partner. There are other ways of expressing concern, however, rather than bringing words of admonition into your sympathy message. There’s no point in making your friend feel guilty for mourning, or for not being an active parent at this time. To show your concern, you may volunteer to pick the children up from school or send dinner casseroles over so your friend won’t have to do such chores for the time being.
- S/he lived a full life.
Although this statement may somehow lend a comforting tone, it may not sit well with the grieving recipient himself/herself. At this point, s/he may not have fully accepted yet the loss of the loved one.
Also, stating that the decedent has lived a full life may somehow make it seem as if it’s totally justifiable for his/her life to end. You may not mean this, surely, but your grieving friend or colleague may think otherwise. To avoid a possible misunderstanding, it may be better to skip this.
Why Personalizing a Sympathy Card Doesn’t Have to Mean Talking About Yourself
There is a difference between personalizing your messages and talking about your personal life. Sometimes, talking about your own experiences of loss could be taken the wrong way. If you must insert yourself in the picture, do so by saying that you are sorry for your friend’s loss. You can also add that you will be available for your friend should s/he needs you in this season of sorrow and grief.
Sympathy Cards: Messages that Uplift the Heart and Spirit
A sympathy card is meant to offer solace and understanding when everything for the recipient is dark and confusing. If you must add your own message of condolences, it is best to proofread first what you plan on writing. This way, you can improve on your personalized messages and avoid possible sympathy card writing mishaps.
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