Words of sympathy do not come easily. When people we care about lose someone they care about, we search for the perfect thing to say — words that will comfort them and express what’s in our hearts.
Finding those words can be incredibly frustrating. We don’t want to say the wrong thing. We don’t want to offend. Yet we don’t want to be trite.
It’s a tall order, but help is here. What follows is an original collection of condolences that go beyond boilerplate without going beyond the bounds of good taste.
Because every situation is different, we divided our messages into categories based on who the sender is or who the recipient is. Nevertheless, some of these messages fall into more than one category, so browse through as you see fit. And, of course, you can alter any message (changing “I” to “we,” for instance, or adding any personal details that truly make your message one of a kind).
Best Words of Sympathy Messages
This first group of messages fits a broad range of situations:
1.) After darkness, dawn
After a downpour, sun
And after dying, life
It may not be easy, but you will get through this.
2.) Thinking of you.
Thinking of (name of deceased).
And, thinking the world of you both.
3.) We’re devastated at losing him/her.
We’re elevated by having known him/her.
4.) By sharing your sorrow, perhaps we can make it less oppressive.
5.) If it makes your sorrow a little less devastating
If it makes your grief a fraction less overwhelming
We are grateful to be able to share it.
6.) I wish I could draw.
Because right now, words fail.
And all I can say is, “So very sorry.”
7.) I cannot feel the depth of your grief.
But I can certainly imagine it.
You are on my mind today.
Deepest Sympathy Messages
8.) Day by day, you will sift through the grief, leaving in its wake a trove of treasured memories.
9.) Let your faith sustain you, and your friends support you.
Saddened by your loss.
10.) If it helps to know we’re thinking of you, we are.
And if it doesn’t help, we are anyway. We can’t help it!
11.) When a loved one passes on, we must say one thing to our inconsolable grief:
“This too shall pass.”
12.) If the loss were not a part of life, life would become less precious.
We are confident that you will find the strength to move beyond the sadness you feel today.
13.) I keep thinking of you lately and finally decided it was time to share that information with you. Yes, my thoughts are with you.
Condolences for Friends
For a close friend or casual acquaintance, you’ll find the appropriate sentiment here:
14.) No one can take his/her place.
But your friends can help you fill the void.
15.) At a time like this, I wish I could provide the wisdom of a philosopher.
But I can only offer the compassion of a friend.
16.) When the emptiness seems unbearable
When reality seems impossible,
A friend can be invaluable
(Your name), A friend
17.) Sometimes, thoughts and prayers are not enough.
If I can do anything else for you right now, you only have to ask.
18.) At this sad time,
I can’t feel what you’re feeling
I can’t know what you’re thinking
But I can listen to every word
If you want someone to talk to, I’m there for you.
19.) We hardly knew (name of deceased).
But we know he/she was a special person.
Because we know you.
And our thoughts are with you.
Further Reading Sympathy Messages.
Sympathy Messages for Friends
20.) Right now, you may think you’ll never smile again.
You may think you’ll never want to smile again.
But you will. We’re going to see to it.
21.) (Name of deceased) was my best friend. I can’t say I was their best friend because they made everyone feel they were their best friend. Today, so many feel the loss so deeply. And every one of us understands something of what you’re feeling. But we know you will carry on. It’s what they would want you to do.
22.) We can’t bring (name of deceased) back to you.
But we can help bring you back to your smiling self.
Let’s work on that together!
23.) We can’t fill the void in your life right now.
But if we can make it even a tiny bit smaller, we’re ready to give it a go.
24.) You may feel alone as you grieve.
Our wish is that you know you are not alone.
25.) All I have to offer you is sympathy.
Plus, someone to talk to whenever you feel the need to keep the loneliness at bay.
26.) I know things will never seem quite the same.
But the sun will still rise every morning.
The moon will come out at night.
And I will still be there to share with you, good times or bad.
Reaffirm family ties with the appropriate message:
27.) When the family suddenly grows smaller, it also grows closer. Let’s stay close.
28) The years have gone by with (name of deceased) generated countless memories that will enrich the years ahead.
29.) We’re with you in your pain.
We’re with you in your sorrow.
And when you’re ready to smile again, we’ll be with you.
30.) You have lost a very important person in your life, and we’re saddened by your loss.
But you must not lose anything else.
Do not lose your spirit,
your sunny disposition.
Losing those would be unacceptable to all whose lives are blessed by you.
31.) At times like these, remember the theory of relativity: Those related to you are in a unique position to relate to your loss. We commiserate with you and want to be your support system. Lean on us.
32.) For me, (name of deceased) was also a special person in the family. I can only imagine how special they were to you. If you ever feel like reminiscing together, laughing together, crying together, whatever, you know my number!
Sympathy Card Messages for Loss of Spouse
33.) Time will make the tears fade.
Memories will make love endure.
(Check out this article: Does Time really heal all wounds?)
34.) Love is what makes your heart feel broken today.
And love is what will heal your heart in days to come.
Sending lots of love your way.
35.) You’ve lost the kind of love some never find.
You’ll find the kind of strength you never lose.
36.) When the love of our life leaves us, it can be jarring to realize that life goes on.
But thank goodness for that. That’s what forces us to work through our grief.
Words of Sympathy for Loss of Mother or Father
37.) My heart aches for you and your children. You built an amazing life together with wonderful memories! (Name of deceased) and his spirit lives on through your children. I will continue to hold you and your family close in prayer.
38.) Losing a parent isn’t easy.
But, if there is a bright side,
Think of how lucky your dad was to have a daughter like you.
39.) Our thoughts are with you.
Losing a parent can make you feel like a ship with no captain.
But grab the wheel — you were trained by the best!
40.) When we’re born, we are weak, and our parents are superheroes.
As the years go by and our parents grow weaker, we grow stronger.
And when our parents pass, we find ourselves dealing with it.
And we come to this realization: We are now the superheroes.
For the Loss of a Child
41.) In experiencing a tragedy beyond words — beyond all understanding — time can become our friend or our foe. To pass too many days reinforcing our grief is to sink into the abyss and compound the tragedy. If instead, we focus on our obligation to our own well-being and to the friends and family who love us, we experience the healing power of time and emerge heroically from our cocoon. Yes, sorrow will always be lurking. But it will not own us. It will not consume us and sour us on life.
42.) When the pain is infinite, any comfort we can offer is infinitesimal.
Knowing this won’t deter us from doing what we can.
43.) At a time like this, we can speak more eloquently with hugs than with words.
44.) A loss like yours is senseless and unfair.
Yet we’re told that everything happens for a reason.
Maybe the reason is to reveal strength we never knew we had.
45.) A child you love is always a part of you.
In your heart,
In your soul,
And in every fiber of your being
(Name of the deceased child) lives on in you.
Good Words of Sympathy Messages for Loss of a Brother or Sister
46.) Losing a brother or sister is losing a part of yourself.
It’s as if someone has ripped off your arm — and it’s just about as painful.
Our thoughts are with you during this difficult time.
47.) I know you and your brother/sister were close.
His/her passing may make you feel even closer.
Hold onto the memories.
But move confidently into the future.
For his/her sake, perhaps now you need to live your life with twice the passion.
48.) You shared a special bond with your brother/sister.
A bond strong enough to stretch beyond life itself.
Our thoughts are with you and your brother/sister today.
Religious Words of Sympathy
If faith is an important part of your recipients’ lives, one of these thoughts is likely to resonate with them:
49.) When we feel it is unfair that God has taken someone so special from our life, we should remember it was God who brought that person into our life.
50.) Disbelief: What we feel when someone special leaves us.
Belief: What we have within us to help us face the world anew.
Don’t stop believing.
51.) When you ask “why” and come up with no good answer, faith becomes more important than ever.
Our prayers are with you today.
52.) When you can’t believe someone is gone, you have to believe in something beyond.
53.) Light follows darkness.
Sun follows rain.
Grace follows grief.
54.) When life throws something in our path, we have faith in ourselves. We deal with it. But when life takes a loved one away, we put our faith in something else — something much higher.
God knows you will get through this sad time.
55.) When God tests our faith, we pray.
We’re praying for you now.
Words of Sympathy for an Unexpected Death
56.) When a tragic loss comes unexpectedly, you may not know where to turn. Please know you can turn to us.
57.) Losing a loved one is never easy. But when it hits you suddenly, despair is compounded by disbelief. Our thoughts are with you during this difficult time.
Words of Sympathy after Missing a Funeral
58.) So sorry I could not be with you to offer formal condolences.
Please know that I was thinking of you then — and thinking of you now.
59.) Please accept our apology for not being with you in your sorrow. The news of your loss did not reach us in time. We look forward to being able to express our sympathy in person.
Messages on Losing a Pet
Many of us spend more time with our pets than we do with any person. For these individuals, the death of a pet can be just as traumatic as the death of a human being. Here are some wise words to help ease that trauma:
60.) People who think losing a dog is less painful than losing a friend never had a friend
who wagged its tail each time you walked into a room.
I understand your life feels a little empty right now.
But I’m not worried about you. Dog people always bounce back.
61.) Saying, “It’s just a dog/cat,” is an oxymoron spoken by people who never loved a pet.
We grieve with you for your loss.
62.) Nine lives are never enough.
So sorry to hear of (name of cat’s) passing.
63.) A pet is with you every day.
Waiting for you to get home.
Grateful for your soothing hand,
Your empty lap,
Your calming words,
Thankful for your love and devotion,
And eager to pay you back in kind.
Our thoughts are with you today.
64.) Wishing you comfort and peace during this difficult time.
65.) Try as we might; we can never keep them long enough! Sorry for your loss.
66.) You two were so fortunate to have found each other. So sorry to hear the news.
67.) Losing a loving and loyal friend is difficult. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do.
68.) We were saddened to hear of your loss. We’re thinking of you.
Short Sympathy Quotes
69.) Our hearts are with you in your time of sorrow.
70.) May you find peace in the wonderful memories you two shared.
71.) Our heartfelt sympathies for your loss.
72.) Hoping you feel surrounded by the love of friends and family.
73.) We pray that in the midst of your sorrow, you find peace in all the beautiful memories you shared.
74.) Like a bird singing in the rain, let grateful memories survive in a time of sorrow.
Robert Louis Stevenson
75.) A great soul serves everyone all the time. A great soul never dies. It brings us together again and again.
See more Sympathy Quotes.
The word sympathy means the feelings of sorrow or understanding we have for someone else’s misfortune, suffering, or loss.
Synonyms for the word sympathy include:
n.) rapport, and
Empathy vs. Sympathy: What’s the Difference?
The word empathy means the feeling of putting yourself in the shoes of someone else, while sympathy is more closely associated with the feeling of sorrow for the unfortunate experiences someone else has had.
So, empathy is more closely related to understanding someone’s feelings, whereas sympathy is when you share their feelings.
By Art Novak
Art Novak is an Emmy-winning writer, novelist, and Professor Emeritus at Savannah College of Art and Design.
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