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Guidance on Writing a Sympathy Card

Showing up can feel hard. We want to say and do all the right things. Below we share some word of guidance and some words you might use.  

1. Not knowing how to show up is okay, naming this for yourself and your people can be a helpful experience for everyone.

2.  Drop the need for perfection, there is no ideal way.  We are all human and grief is messy, what matters most is that you lead with love.

3.  Your presence is gold.  It’s not so much about doing something, rather being a presence that holds space with compassion.


4.  Do not attempt to fix anything.  Nothing is broken - grief is the natural human reaction to losing something or someone you love. 


5.  Stay present and honest, for example: “I don't know what to say, but I know this sucks / hurts / etc. I love you and I am here.”


6.  Stay strong on your seat of witness, be attentive to their pain, however it shows up.  Encourage them that whatever arises is normal and true for them.  You may do grief differently - we all do!


7.  If you are supporting someone who is grieving a death, talk about the person / pet who died.  Don’t worry about making the person sad, they are already sad.  Reminisce about personality traits or fond memories of their person / pet.  Connection makes things better.


8.  Remember that this is their experience and that your role is to support.  If your grief becomes activated, find a separate supportive space; another human, a journal, a counselor, or any activity that supports you in your grief expression and practice.

Below are some words to inspire your empathy message.  Honour your voice and consider using language that feels natural to you.


“This is a tough time, I want you to know, I see you, I hear you, and I accept you as you are.”


“I am here for you / I am here with you.”


“You are not alone.”


“Feel what you need to, I’ll be here.”


“This is so fucking unfair.”


“I don’t know how this feels and I wish things were easier.  Know that I am here to listen.”


“I accept you right where you are in this moment.”

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