How To Write A Sympathy Card - Good Catholic™ (2023)

How To Write A Sympathy Card - Good Catholic™ (1)

The death of a loved one is a universal experience—and yet it’s challenging to know what to say to someone who has recently lost a friend or family member. It’s helpful to start by considering our own previous losses, and remembering the words and prayers that meant the most to us in our grief.

After my father committed suicide, I remember that some people didn’t know what to say—so they said nothing.I certainly didn’t fault them for that, but I was grateful for the many people that did acknowledge the hurt and grief I felt during that terrible time.I received letters and cards that were very personal and I was extremely appreciative of those who took the time to write a message of support.

We all struggle at times when sending a written message of condolence, even though we know it is important to do so. But there are some simple things we can keep in mind that will help us find words of comfort and support.

What To Write in a Sympathy Card?

How To Write A Sympathy Card - Good Catholic™ (2)

1. Keep it simple.

As I mentioned earlier, after my father passed away, I was comforted by the love and support of those who sent cards and letters to my family.They did not need to say much; it can mean a great deal after losing someone to simply hear a kind word of support.

Simple words are best when offering encouragement or condolence to someone during times of loss.

Here are some more suggestions for ways to begin a sympathy card:

  • “We are so sorry for your loss.”
  • “I hope you feel surrounded by much love during this time.”
  • “I am sharing in your sadness as you remember [insert name].”
  • “I wish I could be there with you now, but please be assured of my prayers for you and your family…”
  • “I was saddened to hear that [insert name] passed away…”

2. When no words seem fitting, turn to Scripture.

Sometimes our own words fall short when we try to comfort someone who has experienced a loss.Sacred Scripture is full of words of empathy and compassion that can be offered when our own human words seem to fail us. There is something about a verse from the Bible that is like a powerful balm to one who is in the depths of grief.

Writing to someone, you might say, “I am so very sorry for your loss.I want to share these words from Scripture that might offer solace since my own words fail me at this time…[insert Bible verse]. Please know that you and your family are in my prayers as you go through this difficult time.”

Here are some Scripture verses that might be used to console someone who is mourning:

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For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

“Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 21:3-4

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
and saves the crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
and saves the crushed in spirit.

Psalm 147:3

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil;
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff,
they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingly power.”

Luke 23:42

“Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.”

John 14:1-4

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Matthew 5:4
How To Write A Sympathy Card - Good Catholic™ (3)

3. Think about where your recipient is in life and mindset and choose words that meet them there.

Each of us will grieve differently.Our relationships are unique and so is our grief.Understanding this will help in choosing the words to say to someone who has just lost a loved one.

Faith can sometimes be difficult for those dealing with loss.Perhaps the person you know is struggling with understanding God’s will in the death of their loved one. Perhaps they aren’t sure that God exists. In this case, your own words might be better suited than words from Scripture—or perhaps you could choose a spiritual sympathy card with pre-written words from Scripture and then write your own personal message inside.You’ll which approach is best based on your recipient.

(Video) Bible Verses for Grief & Condolence

Here are a few ways to start a message of condolence:

  • “You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers daily.”
  • “I wish I had the right words, but please know that I care.”
  • “I don’t know exactly how you feel, but I am here and want to help in whatever way that I can.”
  • “I know you must miss [insert name] so much. My favorite memory of your loved one is…”

When you speak from your heart, there are no wrong words to say—however, it is advisable to stay away from phrases such as “They are in a better place” or “There is a reason for everything” or “At least they lived a long life.”

Instead of coming from a place of empathy and support, those words tend to sound as if we have the answer—and we don’t.

4. Say a prayer for the soul of the one who has died and for their family.

How To Write A Sympathy Card - Good Catholic™ (4)

As Christians we are called upon to pray for one another. We often hear the words “I will pray for you” (or we might be the ones saying it).

Do we follow through on those prayers?When we hear that someone has died we should always pray for his or her soul.

Here is a common prayer of the Church that we can offer for a deceased soul and a prayer for those who have lost a loved one:

Prayer for Eternal Rest

Eternal rest grant unto them,

O Lord, and let perpetual light

shine upon them. May the souls

of all the faithful departed, through

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the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Prayer for Mourners

Lord God,

you are attentive to the voice of our pleading.

Let us find in your Son

comfort in our sadness,

certainty in our doubt,

and courage to live through this hour.

Make our faith strong

through Christ our Lord.

R/. Amen.


(Video) What to Say (and Not Say) to Comfort Someone Who’s Lost a Loved One

N. is gone now from this earthly dwelling,

and has left behind those who mourn his/her absence.

Grant that we may hold his/her memory dear,

never bitter for what we have lost

nor in regret for the past,

but always in hope of the eternal Kingdom

where you will bring us together again.

Through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

Final Thoughts

One of the seven spiritual acts of mercy is to comfort the sorrowful.Let us always try to be attentive to the needs of those whose family member or close friend has died and comfort them in their time of need.

When a lot of time has passed, check in on them again, and ask how they are doing—people really appreciate this!

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Hopefully these tips bring peace to you as you write!


What is a Catholic saying when someone passes? ›

Eternal rest grant unto him/her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him/her. May he/she rest in peace. Amen. May almighty God bless us with his peace and strength, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

What should a religious sympathy card say? ›

Religious Sympathy Messages
  1. I am praying for you to find healing through the Lord's love. ...
  2. Our deepest sympathies and prayers are with you through this loss. ...
  3. We are deeply saddened by your loss. ...
  4. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” – ...
  5. “The God of love and peace shall be with you.” –

How do you send condolences to a Catholic? ›

In Catholicism, when offering condolences, it's appropriate to send cards, flowers, sympathy gifts, or baskets. It's also appropriate to make donations after hearing about the loss.

What is an appropriate thing to write in a sympathy card? ›

Thinking of you and wishing you moments of peace and comfort as you remember a friend who was so close to you.” “Our family is keeping your family in our thoughts and prayers.” “Holding you close in my thoughts and hoping you are doing OK.” “Even though there is joy in the homegoing, there is sorrow in your loss.

Do Catholics send sympathy cards? ›

Catholic Mass cards provide friends and family with a unique opportunity to show their love and support for a grieving loved one. You can send one of these cards to mark the death or anniversary of someone's passing or another date that holds special meaning to the deceased person's family.

How do Catholics say rest in peace? ›

Requiescat in pace is a Latin blessing with Roman Catholic ties that means “may he begin to rest in peace". This blessing is translated to 'rest in peace', a short saying or expression that wishes eternal rest and peace to an individual who has passed away.

What is a good short sympathy message? ›

Short condolence messages for your family member

Know that we are thinking of you, remembering (Name) and celebrating his/her/their life. (Name) will always be in our hearts and memories. (Name) will leave a huge hole in all our lives. The family won't be the same without him/her/them.

What is a nice sympathy message? ›

You have my deepest sympathy and unwavering support. Wishing you peace, comfort, courage, and lots of love at this time of sorrow. My heart goes out to you at this difficult time. Wishing you the best and know you have my full support in every moment.

What is the best condolence message Bible verse? ›

Sympathy Scriptures to Offer Comfort

Psalms 46:1 - God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalms 62:1 - My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. Psalms 147:3 - He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

How do Catholics respond to death? ›

Catholics believe that when a person dies, a saint has been born! Those who have died will no longer suffer. They will no longer face death. With death, loneliness, pain, fear, guilt, suffering will no longer be a part of their lives.

What do you write on a Catholic funeral prayer card? ›

Different Ways to Say 'In Loving Memory' and the Death Date on a Catholic Prayer Card
  1. “In heartfelt memory” ...
  2. “In loving memory of our mom” ...
  3. “Forever in our hearts” ...
  4. “Celebrating a life well-lived” ...
  5. “Always on our mind, forever in our hearts” ...
  6. “Celebrating an amazing life” ...
  7. “Gone but not forgotten”
26 May 2022

What can I say instead of I'm sorry for your loss? ›

What to say instead of sorry for your loss?
  • “I'm thinking of you during this difficult time”
  • “You are in my thoughts, and I'm here if you need to talk or hold my hand”
  • “I'm sorry you're going through this”
  • “I was saddened to hear of Michael's passing, and my thoughts are with you and your family.”
23 Jul 2021

What are Catholic Memorial cards called? ›

Rooted in the Catholic faith tradition, a prayer card (also traditionally called a holy card) is the most common memorial card.

How much money should you put in a sympathy card? ›

There is no hard and fast rule for how much money you should put into a sympathy card. It is important to consider how much you can afford and the need of the family. You don't want to put financial constraints on your family because of giving.

When sending a sympathy card should you put money in it? ›

However, sending a check or any kind of money with a sympathy card is a big no-no. Quietly inquire as to whether a fund has been set up where you may make a donation. If one has not been set up yet and you are close to the family, you can be very helpful by assisting in setting it up for them.

Why we should not say RIP? ›

So there is no rest, hence, the concept of RIP is not valid in Hinduism. Hinduism believes in Moksha, that is liberation, liberation from the endless cycles of birth and death. That's why instead of using RIP we should say, “Om Shanti” or “Aatma Ko Sadgati Prapt Ho” (May the Soul attain Moksha), or simply "Om Sadgati".

What is the Catholic eternal rest Prayer? ›

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

How do you say may your soul rest in peace? ›

Sending my deepest condolence to the family of the deceased. I pray and hope that you are in a better place, dear. May your soul rest in peace! My deepest condolences to those who lost their loved ones.

What to say to someone who lost a family member? ›

Things that can be helpful
  • Say how sorry you are. ...
  • Share a memory. ...
  • Offer them space to talk. ...
  • Tell them however they feel is OK. ...
  • Recognise how hard it is for them. ...
  • Ask if there is anything they need. ...
  • Tell them you're thinking of them. ...
  • Sometimes you don't need to say anything.

What is the mourning period in Catholicism? ›

Parents or children of the deceased are encouraged to spend six months in mourning, with the heavy mourning period lasting 30 days. Grandparents and siblings are to spend three months in mourning, with the heavy mourning time lasting 30 days. Other family members should spend thirty days in mourning.

How long do Catholics mourn the dead? ›

The mourning period usually lasts for forty days, but this depends on the traditions of the family. This will be a time to gather and reflect on the loved ones life and the loss to the family and community.

How long do Catholics grieve for? ›

Generally, mourning periods last one or two days. The funeral takes place once this is over. Usually, catholic funeral services are in a Catholic church. During the funeral service, the priest leads those in attendance in the funeral mass.

What are Catholic prayer cards? ›

Holy Cards featuring traditional Catholic prayers

Holy cards feature a religious image on the front and a traditional Catholic prayer printed on the back. They make ideal gifts to mark spiritual milestones or to simply show someone that they are in your prayers.

What do you say at a Catholic funeral? ›

Catholic Funeral Prayers

The Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be are common prayers recited at funerals. The Prayer for the Dead and Prayer for the Mourners are traditional to recite at funerals.

What is a Catholic blessing at a funeral? ›

Prayer for the Faithful Departed

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Is there a Catholic prayer for when a family member passes? ›

Prayer for the Faithful Departed

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

What is the Catholic apostolic blessing at death? ›

"At the conclusion of the sacrament of penance or the penitential rite, the priest may give the apostolic pardon for the dying, using one of the following: "Through the holy mysteries of our redemption, may almighty God release you from all punishments in this life and in the life to come.

What does the priest say when someone dies? ›

The Mourners Take Farewell

The priest goes to the coffin and says this or another final prayer: " Give him, o Lord, your peace and let your eternal + light shine upon him." Congregation:" Amen."

Who is the patron saint of grief? ›

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton—also known as Mother Seton— is the patron saint of grief. She experienced the deaths of many loved ones in her own life—including her husband and two of her five children and suffered other significant losses, as well.

What do you say when someone's family member is passing? ›

17 Comforting Things to Say When Someone Passes Away
  1. 1 “I'm sorry for your loss.”
  2. 2 “I can't imagine how you're feeling right now.”
  3. 3 “I'm so very sorry your uncle died.”
  4. 4 “This is such horrible news.”
  5. 5 “How are you doing today?”
  6. 6 “I'm thinking of you.”
  7. 7 “I'll keep you in my prayers.”
  8. 8 “I'm here to listen.”

What is the mourning period for Catholics? ›

Parents or children of the deceased are encouraged to spend six months in mourning, with the heavy mourning period lasting 30 days. Grandparents and siblings are to spend three months in mourning, with the heavy mourning time lasting 30 days. Other family members should spend thirty days in mourning.

Why do Catholics pray after someone dies? ›

The practice of praying for the dead is rooted first in Christian belief in the everlasting life promised in Jesus' teachings and foreshadowed by his disciples' experience that God had raised him from the dead. After death, even though separated from our earthly body, we yet continue a personal existence.

Can a Catholic be cremated? ›

Although traditional burial procedure which reflects respect for the body is still normal Catholic practice, cremation is allowed by the Catholic Church for justifiable reasons. Cremation would ordinarily take place after the Funeral Liturgy.

What is the last sacrament before death? ›

“The Last Rites”

The proper celebration for those about to die is Viaticum, the last time that person receives the Body and Blood of Christ. This is a special Eucharistic service celebrated near the time of death. Viaticum may be administered by a priest, deacon or a trained layperson.

What are Catholic Last Rites called now? ›

The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, often referred to as Extreme Unction or Last Rites, is a ritual of healing appropriate not only for those in immediate danger of death but also for those suffering from physical, mental, or spiritual sickness.


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