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Sympathy card etiquette

Death is an uncomfortable topic, but unfortunately is part of life.

 Especially now, in these circumstances, we are not sure about what to do and what to say when offering condolences: should I send an email or call. Is it appropriate to send a card?

I received the other day a card from a friend with a handwritten note expressing her sincere condolences for our beloved 20 years old cat who recently passed. It was so comforting to know that someone was thinking of us in this time of sorrow.

  • Offering condolences, no matter the way you choose by sending an email or giving a phone call or sending a card, it’s better than doing nothing. The most important thing is to make a gesture of sympathy, showing that you care.
  • Yes, it is ok to send flowers with a sympathy card writing a personal note to express your regrets in the card.
  • No, it’s not ok to send a text message for communicating your condolences. Even in this uncertain time, sending a text is still too informal to express your sympathy

Sending a sympathy card has a personal touch, and it’s still one of the most appropriate ways to acknowledge and express your honest thoughts. Here are a few guidelines to follow when sending a sympathy card:

  • Send the card as soon as you heard the news. A blank, simple card is the classic and most appropriate style.
  • Write a short note with proper phrases to express your sentiments. The exception is if you were closed to the deceased, then you can share a few fond thoughts and memories.
  • If you know the deceased, but you don’t know the family, then the proper etiquette is to address the sympathy card to the closest relative, usually to the widow or widower or the eldest child.
  • Sending condolences to a mourning family or friend, but you didn’t know the deceased, then you should address the card to the person you know.
  • Sign the card and make sure to include your last name too. Even if you are a close relative, always write your full name do not create confusion. There could be others with the same first name as yours.
  • Write your return address on the envelope. It’s the easiest way for the family to send a thank you note back to you.


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