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Sympathy Card Etiquette

Sympathy Card Etiquette

If you have to send a sympathy card to a person who has lost a family member, it is important for you to know about its proper etiquette. This article will give you complete information on the etiquette that you have to maintain while sending a sympathy card.
Deepa Kartha
Last Updated: Mar 17, 2018
Losing a loved one causes a person great distress and sadness. Though no words can comfort the family members of the deceased, a word of sympathy can help in giving them strength to face such a difficult situation. Hence, it becomes important to send a sympathy card to the family members of the deceased. However, not many people know about this etiquette. Though most of the sympathy cards have already printed condolence messages on them, it is always good to write a few words of your own.
The death of a loved one is a very sensitive issue and hence, it is important to follow the correct etiquette while sending a sympathy card so as not to hurt the feelings of the person who receives it. Right from the wordings that have to be written on the card to whom it has to be addressed, there are rules for everything. So, let us take a look at some of the etiquette that you have to follow.
When to Send the Sympathy Card
A lot of stress is laid upon the timing of sending the card. As per etiquette, the sympathy card should be sent soon after you hear the news. However, some people say that if it is not possible for you to send the sympathy card around the time of the death, it is fine to send it anytime after. As it can help in comforting a person, sending it even after a few months will be appreciated by the receiver. Therefore, though the appropriate time of sending the sympathy card is soon after you hear the news, it is actually never too late to send it.
Addressing Etiquette
Most people become confused as to whom they should address the sympathy card to while writing one. This will actually differ according to the situation. If you had known the deceased very well, but have never met his/her family, you should address the sympathy card to his/her closest relative. On the other hand, if you did not know the deceased person, but know his family member like wife, son, daughter, etc., you should address the card to the person you know and not to the entire family. It is also important to write your complete name as well as surname on the sympathy card, even if you are very close to the person. This is because there can be many people of the same name and this can cause confusion while sending thank you notes.
What to Say in the Sympathy Card
The most important part that people get stuck at is what to say in the sympathy card. This is quite a sensitive issue as even though you may not have meant anything bad, your words may hurt the person unknowingly. Hence, it is important for you to know what should be written in the sympathy card. The wording should be a short one. You do not have to write a long discourse about how you feel. Rather, a few words will do the needful. If you have known the deceased person very closely, it is absolutely fine to share a short story or memory. However, if you do not know the person well, it will be better to write a really short letter. Be genuine in whatever you say and avoid cliches like 'I know how you feel', 'time heals all wounds', etc.
Things to Avoid
To follow proper etiquette, it is also important to know the things that have to be avoided. Here are some of the things that should not be done while sending a sympathy card.

  • One should never use a typewriter or printer to write the address on the envelope. The address should always be handwritten.
  • Even if the family is facing a financial crisis, it is not the correct etiquette to send money with the card. You can send the money directly to the charitable organization set by the family.
  • If you had any grudges against the deceased person, never mention it in the letter. This will go against the etiquette.
  • Another important thing that you should not mention is the details about the person's death. Such memories will be fresh in the mind of the family members and mentioning it again can make it worse.

So, if you have to write a sympathy card, make sure that you adhere to these etiquette so that you do not hurt the feelings of anyone unintentionally.