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Archive -‘Sympathy Notes’

With the recent passing of my mother-in-law, I was asked by MY mother, “how should I address the card to your family?”  Good question. Considering we talk every day and are obviously very “familiar”, the idea of formality seems awkward. Should she just send the card to my husband for his loss?  Should the card be sent to the whole family and if so, how does she address her grandson in the card?  Is he the “and family” part?

It seems much easier to address a card to someone more distant or not related,such as a co-worker or church acquaintance, so I thought I would share a few tips with my readers as to the appropriate form of address when sending a Sympathy card to the:


Widow of deceased:  Mrs. Robert Jones

Widow of deceased with children living at home:  Mrs. Robert Jones (on top line) followed by:  Jack, Mary, and John Jones (less acquainted with family: use The family of Robert Jones)

Single friend:  Mr. Robert Jones or Ms. Roberta Jones.  

Married friend:  Mr. and Mrs. Robert Jones or your friend and their family as in: John and Mary Smith or Mary Smith and family.

Colleague:  The family of Robert Jones

Parents:  Mr. and Mrs. Robert Jones

While we all understand that death is part of life, and that our belief system will help us through the journey, the simple gesture of sending thoughts to a bereaved can be very healing.  

Often times we are unsure of what to say or do when the annual date of a loss approaches. While it is not necessary to send a paper/mailed card every year, it is appropriate in our technological age to send a “thought” via email.  There are many “free card” and “pay cards” from which to choose.  Blue Mountain has a nice assortment of support cards that can lend comfort to a friend or family member as they remember their loved ones over the years.


When writing a sympathy note, the most thoughtful way is to say what you truly feel.  A brief and heart-felt line or two expressing the genuine feeling you had for the deceased is always appreciated by those who are mourning their loss.  Try not to dwell on the details of an illness or the manner of death.  Other common but well-intended mistakes,  are saying such things as the loss is a “blessing in disguise” or “they’re in a better place now”.  This is little comfort to the emptiness the family is experiencing.  Always ask if there is anything you can do to help.  Often, just bringing a casserole or providing a dinner now and then in the first few weeks or months can be a huge help to the family.