Messages of sympathy are appropriate for memorial tributes or for sending to the family of the deceased. It can be hard to find the right words to express how you feel when you are mourning the loss of someone dear to you. Here, you will find examples of messages of sympathy that will help you find your own words to express how you feel.
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The messages of sympathy we send to the bereaved are meant to comfort and console; but if they are sent too late, or not written appropriately, they can have the complete opposite effect. Sending a sympathy message too late can cause a person who is beginning to overcome their grief to relapse back into a depressed state. A letter written and sent hurriedly or without heartfelt concern and compassion can lead a bereaved person to feel that the writer does not really care about their situation. We have provided some examples of sympathy messages above to inspire and guide you when penning your own, but first let's quickly discuss how to ensure we send both timely, and tender messages of sympathy.
The grieving family will need all the support that can be given in the immediate period following the death of their loved one. As messages of sympathy flow in, their grief is slightly relieved as they consider the thoughts and sentiments of friends and family who have taken the time to show their support.
If you happen to be away, or have the misfortune of being ill at the time of death, it is acceptable to send messages of sympathy up to several months after the funeral. Notes, cards and letters received during that period continue to assist in the healing process, and help the bereaved to gently let go of the one they love. It is advisable not to send condolence letters or messages after three months have passed, as this could impede or reverse the healing process. It is during this time that the family begin to heal, and receiving messages of sympathy more than 3 months after the funeral can force them to relive that grief all over again.
Different people need varying amounts of time to recover from the loss of a loved one. There is no set time period for which a person is expected to recover, as the healing process is a very personal one and subject to many influences. To avoid unintentionally causing upset to someone who is grieving, it is best to send messages of sympathy as soon as possible, after which you can follow up with phone calls, and longer, more intimate letters throughout the duration of the recovery period for any particular individual.
As important as when to send messages of sympathy is what to say in them. Letters or messages bearing condolences should be written clearly, compassionately and correctly. It is important to express your sympathy at the beginning of your letter, and to mention the deceased by name. An example would be:
We were so saddened to hear of the death of your loving husband Donald.
Mentioning the deceased by name makes your letter personal, and adds an air of humanity to your note rather than it being a clinical recital of the facts and your feelings.
It is also important to mention a funny or compelling memory of the decease:
I'll always remember Don as your knight in shining armour. Remember that Halloween party when he dressed as a knight, and you were his princess? I actually have a picture of the two of you from that night. I'll dig it out and send it to you.
Mention whether or not you'll be attending the funeral, and offer to help in a specific way:
I'm going to ask for the time off to come to the funeral, and if it's okay I'll drop by with a casserole on Wednesday evening.
Finish off with an encouraging thought or uplifting sentiment:
Be good, kind and supportive of each other during this period in your lives. Cherish the time you have together and love each other with the same love that Donald had for all of you. He'd want that!
Your loving neighbour,
As you can see, messages of sympathy needn't be complicated or overly emotional. If you're ready to write your own letter of condolence or sympathy message, browse through some of the samples we have above, keep what you've learned in mind, and always remember to speak from the heart when writing messages of sympathy.