Because I make and sell sympathy cards (and wrote a book about grief), people often ask me, "I want to send a sympathy card, but I don't know what to say. What should I write?"
It can be really hard to know how to support someone who is going through a hard time. Having been on both sides of it, I still struggle with finding the right words and worry about saying the wrong thing. But in my experience, what matters most is that you say something—better to send a simple and imperfect card than to not send a card at all.
So, here's generally what I say: There is no perfect thing to say—there's nothing you can say to make it all better. But you can validate what they're going through, offer your support, and remind them that they are not alone.
Here are some specific ideas on what you can include:
In case it's helpful for you to have this as a tangible reminder that can be picked up and used as needed, here's my What to Write in a Condolence Card Zine:
I started making sympathy cards in 2016 after my partner passed away. It was a way of processing my grief and naming all of the swirling thoughts and emotions I felt. The resulting cards reflect the things that I wanted and needed to hear in the depths of my grief.
Sympathy cards are now some of my bestselling cards— I'm glad that they resonate with others, and hope they bring a bit of validation and comfort to anyone else going through a hard time.