So often when we hear of the loss of a loved one at times, we may become filled with much emotion.

Maybe some happy, especially when we remember the “good” times we experienced with that person. Sometimes it may be sad – where we realize that the person’s journey with us has ended. These two highlighted emotions may come tinged with many other emotions on the spectrum.

It is at this time of loss, that some of us may want to express our sympathy in writing. Be it card or letter to the family, this is a kind gesture. At this time many of us do not know what to say and the fear of saying the wrong thing stifles us from expressing anything to the family. Our quick guide here can at least get you started on expressing sympathy to the family.

Do Not Express Relief

It is tacky and tasteless to say to the family members that they must be “relieved”. The possibility of not having to bear the medical or other costs because of the illness has been eliminated because of the passing of the loved one. Expressing relief should never be done since it is not a product to which we refer but a loved one. This loved one would have had some impact on the family. What can be stated for example… “she is now out of her pain…and is now at rest

In Sudden Death

If the death is unexpected or sudden – Do NOT solicit nor offer yours or any version of the graphic details of the instance. Remember each member of the family may be at a different stage of grieving and having to listen or rehash the details of the tragic moments can be traumatizing. Therefore as you offer your sympathy in writing – it is better to say that “the passing is untimely and should they need a listening ear then they can be reassured and comforted in having your support.

Never Compare

The death of your loved one maybe last week or even a year ago, cannot and should not be compared to the loss of a loved one in another family today. Even though circumstances may appear similar – each loss is different. Therefore it is in poor taste to express sympathy and to state thoughts  similar to this…” I know how you feel…” NO YOU DO NOT!!! Additionally it is not about you and therefore comparisons should not be made.

Do Not Grandstand

Maybe the deceased was a tough cookie. Offering this sentiment during the sympathy expression is never ideal. Just imagine how you ‘d feel if someone did it to you had you lost a loved one. What can be done is to highlight the quirk and make it in conjunction with a positive comment. For example, you may use imagery such as this…” I remember Joe was always a bit cranky but only until he saw his pet dog- Bessie and their relationship was always heart warming to see...”


Do not discuss private information in your sympathy expression. maybe there were other family members who didn’t know that “Frank” was seeking therapy. Revealing this info at this time may even cause a rift to occur in the family. It may appear as if someone was holding secrets. Private is private – including things which may have happened out of wed-lock. Expressing this as a form of sympathy is only inflammatory.

Property| Wills | Estates

This is off-limits before the funeral or memorial service takes place. Expressing the interest in the material goods of the deceased is not good, for if you do this at this time – you will come over as a gold-digger or gossip. The consideration of the estate will take precedence when some time has passed after the funeral. There are no specific amount of days in the timeline as it is already known that estate administration will occur. Give It Time…