Condolence messages can be paired with a meaningful gift, such as this beautiful memorial garden stone.

Wherever We Are Memorial Garden Stone

Condolence messages are, without question, some of the most difficult types of notes or letters to write. Often, this task can be simplified by including your message with a sympathy gift, but it can still be hard to come up with just the right words.

The most important tip when it comes to writing a sympathy note is to be yourself. In most cases, the family and friends of the deceased don’t actually require a big, over the top expression of grief and sympathy. It can be much more powerful to hear something simple and touching that comes directly from the heart. For example, you might say:

• John’s love will always be with you.
• Wishing you comfort in the days ahead.
• Susan was a wonderful woman, and will be deeply missed.
• We are so sorry for your loss of Bob. We will miss him very much.
• Your Dad was such a wonderful person, and you a shining example of his legacy.
• My favorite memory of John is…
• I will miss your Mom and her kindness and loving spirit.
• Knowing that love lives on forever.
• Sarah will never be forgotten.
• Susan will live on in your heart and memory.

In most cases, less is usually more. You don’t need to speak volumes when a short but heartfelt message will do. If the deceased or the bereaved are close to you, you may opt to write a longer message, or even a letter, to fully express your feelings.

Pairing a simple message with a memorial gift can give it that much more impact. A keepsake box, a cross or a garden statue can help the bereaved to remember their loved one in a special way. Whenever the recipient sees the memorial, he or she will be reminded of your love.

In addition, something as simple as offering to cook a meal, run an errand or watch the kids can help someone who is overwhelmed with grief. One of the most meaningful gestures of all is to offer a shoulder to lean on or an ear to listen. Allowing the bereaved to talk through their pain or just sit with you in silence can be of great value.

Remember, it’s not about finding just the right words; it’s about expressing your feelings in your own voice. Whether you choose to just send a note or couple it with a gift, you want the gesture to reflect your feelings so that the bereaved will understand that you are there for them in their time of need.

For more help, download our free sympathy guide “What to Say and Not Say at Time of Loss” in the upper right hand of your screen. For gift ideas, visit