It’s hard to know what to say when someone dies. When a friend, co-worker to family member faces a loss ,finding words that do justice to the moment can seem impossible. Everything that comes to mind can feel too trite or clichéd – far from the heartfelt sentiment you wish to get across.
This uncertainty is 100% natural, but it’s also far from ideal when you’re trying to write a thoughtful message of condolence to whoever’s been affected by the loss.
That’s why we decided to put this post together. In it, we’ll share expert advice on how to write warm, caring, and short condolence messages alongside 30 examples for you to use.
Don't be so afraid to say the wrong thing that you end up saying nothing. These condolence messages will help you find just the right words. Let’s dive in.
Expert Advice – How & What to Write in a Sympathy Card
We asked a host of doctors, psychologists, counselors, and other specialists in this line of work to offer their thoughts on writing messages of condolence. What should you say to someone who’s mourning? What shouldn’t you say?
Here’s a run-down of what the experts recommend:
1. Let Them Know You’re Thinking of Them
Sometimes, the best condolence messages are the simplest. Letting someone know they’re in your thoughts should suffice! As Ernesto Lira de la Rosa, a Psychologist and Media Advisor at the Hope for Depression Research Foundation, says:
“The person may greatly benefit from knowing that you are thinking of them…let them know you will be there throughout the process [of grieving] and that you will reach back out in the future.”
2. Make Your Message about Them
According to Dr. Camille Humes, “the focus should be on the loved one (not the person sending the message.”
In other words, no matter how devastated you are by their loss or how much you know you’d be suffering in their shoes, it’s usually better just to check in, acknowledge their loss, and say you’re thinking of them. Remember: simplicity’s a central ingredient to good condolence messages.
3. Avoid Advice and Guarantees
“People may want to make the person feel better and offer advice, but this may not be the best way to support someone.” That’s what Psychologist Ernesto Lira de la Rosa had to say on this topic too. And it makes sense…
After all, how do you really know what’s right for someone? “Take your time”, “Give yourself some space”, and “Let yourself mourn” all sound like sensible suggestions. Yet there’s no right or wrong way to grieve, which means advice doesn’t always go down well in condolence messages.
Similarly, try to avoid guarantees (e.g. “things will get better” or “they’re in a better place now”). Not only can these statements appear trite, but the recipient may also disagree with them. And that’s not what you want when you’re trying to help!
4. Offer Your Support Instead
After a loved one passes away and you sink into the midst of grief, it’s common to feel isolated and alone. That’s why it’s so helpful to receive short condolence messages from people offering their support and encouragement.
You don’t have to go into detail about the support you’re offering either. Once again, we’ll refer to something that Ernesto Lira de la Rosa said on the subject: “Offer support by letting the person know that they can reach out to you if they need to talk or simply to spend some time doing an activity.”
5. Keep Individual Differences in Mind
Statements like, “I know exactly how you feel” or “I can totally relate to what you must be going through” should be kept out of condolence messages too. While they may be heartfelt (and even accurate), it’s worth remembering that people experience loss and grief in very different ways.
As Nicole Schafer, a Licensed Professional Counselor, explains: “Don’t offer solutions or inspirational quotes. Everyone grieves differently and so many of these types of statements come off as condescending and oftentimes even offensive.”
Again, the best condolence messages focus on the recipient. Combine that focus with a simple note of regret and a possible pinch of encouragement, and your message should be received with gratitude.
6. Short Condolence Messages Are Best
Here’s something the experts all agree upon when it comes to writing condolence messages: less is more. Quality trumps quantity in this domain. Although you may want to vary the length depending on your relationship with the recipient, a good rule of thumb is to err on the side of brevity.
After all, people in this position can be inundated with sympathy cards and messages. Keeping them short stops them from becoming a burden. They can read your message, feel your support, and then return to the grieving process.
7. Don’t Dismiss the Humble Text Message
While many people rush to send a sympathy card in the post, a quick text message is sometimes just as good. As Nicole Schafer, the Licensed Professional Counselor puts it: “Anything is better than nothing. A text can be just as meaningful, if not more, than a card”.
Consider your relationship with the individual though. If you’re close friends and always communicate via text message, then that may be the most suitable medium. However, a hand-written card could be more appropriate if you want to send something more formal – to a colleague, for instance, or an elderly relative.
Short Condolence Messages for Your Partner
Now we’ve been through our recommendations for writing condolence messages, it’s time to offer some examples that apply to specific situations. First off, here are a few messages that would be suitable for a grieving partner.
- My darling, I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m here for you in the same way you’ve always been there for me…we all are.
- There are no words I can say to ease the pain. Just know that I love you. Know that you’re not alone. Know that I’ll be and do anything I can to help.
- May time heal the sadness you’re feeling right now. May love shine through your heart. And may you find peace at this most difficult time. I love you so much.
- Whatever you need, whenever you need it. I’m thinking of you, my love.
- If nothing else, the pain you feel now reflects the love you had for them. Never forget that I’m here for you – whether you need a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold, or someone to talk to.
Short Condolence Messages for Your Family Member
Finding appropriate words to comfort anyone in the midst of grief is hard. But it becomes even trickier when they’re a member of your family and you’re in mourning too. Here are a few condolence message suggestions that might prove useful in these awful moments:
- They may no longer be with us, but our love for [insert name] lives on. The loss may rest heaviest on your heart, but we’re here to relieve the burden however and whenever we can. Thinking of you and sending strength and light.
- We’ll never forget them. We’ll never stop loving you. We’re here, always.
- Our heart breaks for you. Our thoughts are with you. And our door is always open. [Insert name] will always be with us in spirit.
- You’re so firmly in our hearts and minds right now. If you need us, we’ll be there in a heartbeat. Big or small, just let us know. We all love you very much.
- We’ll all miss [insert name] so much, so I can’t imagine what you’re going through right now. All I can say is that I’m thinking of you, feeling for you, and here for you.
Short Messages of Condolence for a Friend
Do you have a close friend who’s mourning the loss of someone right now? Because you’re one step removed from the loss, your words can make a particular difference. Here are a few ideas on what you could say to remind them you’re there:
- It goes without saying, but I’m here if you need me. I can’t tell you how sorry I am for your loss. Remember that I’m only ever a phone call away.
- My heart goes out to you, [insert name of recipient]. Whatever you need, whenever you need it – I’ll be there.
- You and [name of the deceased] are in my thoughts so much right now. We miss them and love you so much. I hope you can find and hold onto a glimmer of light despite the depths of your despair.
- I’m here for you if you need anything, mate. I’m so sorry for your loss.
- There are no words, mate. Just know that you’re in all of our thoughts right now. The whole gang’s here for you if or whenever you need something.
Short Condolence Messages for a Colleague
Finding the strength to come to work when you’re grief-stricken is no mean feat. As their colleague, you may want to let them know you’re there for them. Here are a few condolence message ideas you could use to do so:
- Peace and strength at this difficult time, my friend. Let me know if I can do anything – this week, next month, whenever. Everyone in the office is here for you.
- All your buddies in the office are sending deep, deep sympathies. You name it and we’ll do anything we can to help.
- Everyone at work just heard the news. We’re so sorry for your loss and sending all our thoughts and condolences.
- We’ve got you covered here, champ. Don’t hesitate to reach out if we can do anything to help. You’re in all of our thoughts.
- Hey [insert recipient’s name], I just heard the news and wanted to send my deepest condolences. Nothing I can say will make it any better, so for now I’ll just say I’m thinking of you. I’ll check back in again soon to see how you’re doing.
Short Condolence Message to Client Examples
It’s important to strike a balance between professionalism and compassion when sending condolence messages to a client. You want it to be/feel genuine, without stepping too far over the line of familiarity. We hope the examples in this section will help you settle upon an appropriate tone:
- Our deepest sympathies to you in this difficult time. If there’s any way we can help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
- From everyone here at [insert company name], we just wanted to send our thoughts and well wishes to you and your family. We’re so sorry for your loss.
- Please accept our heartfelt condolences to you and your loved ones. May you find strength amidst the sorrow.
- Sending our thoughts and sympathies to you and all those affected by the loss.
- Dear [insert recipient’s name], everyone at [insert company name] is so sorry to hear about your recent loss. May you find strength and peace at this difficult time.
Short Condolence Messages for the Loss of Any Loved One
Looking for general short condolence messages that you can use in almost any situation? Here are a few options that offer a good blend of genuineness, brevity, and love:
- Hi [insert recipient’s name], I just wanted to say how sorry I am for your loss and how often you’re in my thoughts. We’re all here for you – whatever you need.
- We might not be with you in person, but we’re right by your side in spirit.
- We don’t know what you’re going through right now, but please know we’re thinking of you and will do anything we can to help. With all our love and sympathies.
- Words can’t express how much we’re thinking of you at this tragic time. We’re so sorry for your loss. If there’s anything we can do to help, we’re never far away.
- Wishing you peace, strength, and hope at this difficult time. You’re in our thoughts and prayers.
Loss of a Pet Sympathy Card Messages
The death of a pet can be just as traumatic as that of a human friend or family member. At the same time, it can be hard to relate to someone in this position when you don’t have pets of your own! If you know someone whose pet has just died and want to send them a short condolence message, consider the following examples:
- Losing a pet is like losing a friend. I hope you’re holding up okay – feel free to give us a call if you ever need a hug.
- We’re so sorry for your loss. [Insert pet’s name] was such an amazing [insert type of pet]. Walks, cuddles, games…you name it and we’re here for you!
- Hey X, we just heard the news about [insert pet’s name]. Can’t explain how much we’re thinking of you right now and sending our love through the airwaves. Let us know if there’s anything we can do.
- [Insert pet’s name] was such a gorgeous [insert type of pet]. I can’t imagine what you’re going through at the moment, but if you need anything at all, just shout.
- Losing a treasured pet is never easy. We all hope you’re doing alright and coping okay. If you ever want some company or conversation, we’re all too happy to help.
Short Condolence Message for Floral Card
Sending flowers to someone in mourning is a lovely gesture. If you’re seeking some ideas for what to write on the little card accompanying them, then this final section should help. Likewise, the following phrases and statements also make good endings to whatever short condolence message you’ve written
- 36. Sending you our sincere condolences at this difficult time.
- 37. Our deepest sympathies.
- 38. We’re here for you, always.
- 39. Wishing you peace, strength, and courage.
- 40. Thinking of you and sending all our love.
Write the Perfect Short Condolence Message Today
Death is a natural part of life, but that doesn’t make it any easier to talk about when it happens – especially in a society where the topic borders on taboo. Try as you might, the right words remain elusive; you worry about saying the wrong thing.
Have you encountered this struggle in your attempts to write a thoughtful condolence message? If so, we hope the insights and examples above have helped. Whether you copy these short condolence messages word for word or use the tips to write your own, the recipient’s sure to appreciate the warmth and authenticity of your message.