Words To Express Sympathy
Comforting Sympathy Messages

Finding words to express sympathy and sending your condolences  to comfort the bereaved can often prove a difficult task. 

On this page you will find sympathy letter samples to help you with words of sympathy for relatives, friends or acquaintances who have lost a loved one.

It can also prove difficult finding the right words of empathy when writing to a loved one or friend who is terminally ill.

Bear in mind, those who find themselves or a loved one seriously ill may still be shocked so, in a letter, offering help and comfort is what is appreciated and needed.

The most meaningful sympathy messages include your personal memories of the deceased and, if possible, a treasured story. Any photographs you have might also be appreciated.

Although such sympathy letters are so hard to compose, it is important that you do write.

When my mum found out about her terminal illness, she received so many wonderful letters and cards from friends and family. She treasured each and every one and they made her aware of how much she was loved and thought of.

Tips On Words To Express Sympathy

1. When writing your sympathy letter, mention the illness or bad news openly.

2. Keep your letter brief, you don't need to say too much.

3. Take your time choosing your exact words and phrases and focus on what you are trying to say.

4. Keep your letter as natural as possible and put yourself in the other person's situation. Offer help and support, whether now or in the months to come.

5. In the event of a death, always write to the nearest relation - husband, wife or eldest child.

6. Describe your memories of the deceased, recall any happy meetings, great parties and how they improved your life. Describe how you felt about them and what you will miss most about them.

7. Don't feel embarrassed to express your feelings. If the deceased was precious to you then say so.

8. Offer words to express sympathy and comfort to the mourner. Express your understanding that the death of the deceased must be a huge loss. If you have lived through a bereavement of your own you might like to offer words on how you coped and what brought you comfort.

Sample Sympathy Letters

You might like to use the more formal words to express sympathy letter below if you don't know the bereaved that well. 

Dear John,

We cannot find the words to say how saddened we are to hear about Jane.

We understand that, at the moment, you might wish to be alone but we just wanted you to know that we are thinking of you at this difficult time.

Please let us know if there is anything we can do for you.


Trish and Thomas Waddington


Sympathy Message On Hearing Of A Death

Words to express sympathy that I sent to a friend when her mum died.

Dear Julia and family,

I have just heard your heartbreaking news.  No words of mine can ease your sadness as I truly know how you feel.  I hope that you were able to see your beloved mum before she passed.

Grief is a long journey so take as much time as you need. Think of your mum, speak her name and share in all the happy memories you have. She is etched in your hearts forever.

Sending masses of hugs from us all.

With our deepest sympathy,

Sarah and family


Words To Express Sympathy From
Work Colleagues

Dear Brian,

Please accept our sincere condolences on the death of Joan. She was a wonderful lady and will be sorely missed by her colleagues and friends at Waitrose. She always had a smile and a joke for everyone and she was a pleasure to work with.

Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help.

Sincerely yours,


Words Of Sympathy From Clinic/Hospital

This is a sympathy message from a doctor, in a clinic, who treated a lady for cancer over a number of years. It is written to the parents of the deceased.

Dear Karen and Robert,

I am so sad to hear that, your daughter, Nancy has passed away. She fought so bravely and was such a wonderful person. She was so optimistic and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to meet her.

Our sincere thoughts to you both and to her husband and children.

"Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away".

She will always remain in my heart.

Our deepest sympathy.

on behalf of St John's clinic.


Words Of Empathy For Terminal Illness

My mum died from terminal cancer 11 years ago.  When her illness was diagnosed as terminal we were all in shock and literally walking around in a fog.

As I've mentioned before, my mum received so many lovely letters and cards and she appreciated every single one of them.  If you know of someone who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, please don't be afraid to write.  However, I can very well appreciate how difficult it is to know what to say in such circumstances.

Dear Margaret,

I was very sorry to hear, from David, that you are back in hospital and that you have received some very bad news.

I can't think of the right words to express how I feel at the moment but just wanted to let you know that I am thinking of you and that you and David are in my prayers.

If you need any help with lifts to the hospital or other appointments please let me know as I would be glad to drive you. I have already said to David that I am quite happy to do the shopping and any other little errands that will make his life easier in the weeks ahead.

Now you take care of yourself my love and I shall be in to visit you soon.

Love from Judy


Dear Roberta,

I spoke to Emma yesterday and she told me that you are back in hospital.   I asked her if I could visit you and she said I could come in on Saturday. I hope that's OK.

You are a very dear friend, and if there is anything I can do please let me know.  Thomas stayed with Cameron last night and they had a lot of fun together so try not to worry about him. 

I hope the daffodils cheer up your room a little bit. I managed to get them from our favourite flower shop in town.

Thinking of you.

Lots of love,



Sympathy Messages For Suicide

Words to express sympathy message I wrote to a friend, whose husband committed suicide.


We would like to offer our deepest sympathy during your time of loss.

May the peace which comes from the memories of love shared comfort you, now, and in the days ahead.

Although no words can help ease the loss you bear, please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.

With Deepest Sympathy


If you really cannot find the right words to express sympathy for a letter you might like to buy a blank sympathy card and add your own personal sympathy message. Here you will find more examples of sympathy card wording.

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