Words To Express Sympathy
Comforting Sympathy Messages

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

On this page you will find sympathy letter samples to help you with sympathy wording 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 words to express sympathy 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 of 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 Wording

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


Words of 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,


Dear Robert,

We both send our deepest condolences to you on June's passing.  Please know that you are in our thoughts and daily prayer.

We understand that losing June so suddenly is such a shock and we are here for you at this difficult time. 

With love and sympathy,


Dear Terry,

Your darling, Dawn, was so brave. I remember our last telephone chat where we were both in fits of laughter - something she always managed to do, regardless.

Dawn will be missed by all who knew her and whose hearts she touched with her brave fight.

We are thinking of you.



Dear James and Patricia,

We are stunned to hear of the death of your mum.

Words just aren't enough.

"There are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, people we can’t live without but have to let go."  Nancy Stephan

Please know that you are in our thoughts and hearts at this very sad time. With our deepest sympathy and love.


Words to Express Sympathy

Sympathy Message 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.

Sympathy Note After A long Illness

Dear Karen and Robert,

We are 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 we are so glad that we had the opportunity to meet her.

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

She will always remain in our hearts.

Our deepest sympathy.

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

on behalf of St John's clinic.


Expression of Sympathy
for Terminal Illness

My mum died from terminal cancer 16 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.

R.I.P Pam Taylor (my dearest mum who died 16 years ago 23rd September 2005) from a secondary brain tumour.

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 Words For Cancer Patient

Below is a copy of a words to express sympathy letter I recently sent to my friend's father who is terminally ill with cancer. We know the family well and wanted to know that we are thinking of them. It was so difficult to pen words to express sympathy as we know there is no chance of recovery.

Dear Paul,

I just wanted to write to let you know that we are thinking of you, Anna and your family at this difficult time.  I won't be writing anything morbid about your crappy predicament.  Because that is exactly what it is, crappy.

It was so lovely to see the photos of you all together, at Julia's birthday celebration.  And even more so to see you, Paul, with a glass of red wine in your hand!  The same old Paul, that's great.  Evelyn regularly keeps me informed on what's happening.

We are all fine here.  John is still in Munich and the boys are still moaning about school.  Nothing new there.

I do hope that you and Anna are still able to find the strength and energy to pop out and enjoy the little things. I know how much you love your garden.

Thinking of you.

Sending you lots of love and warmest wishes from Germany.  Take care.

Love from,


Sympathy Message 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.

Words to Express Sympathy Articles

Sympathy Wording For Loss Of Mother Or Father

Sympathy Quotes To Use In Sympathy Cards

Sympathy Sayings And Messages

More Sample Condolence Letters

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