E068 Midlife Toolkit: Sympathy Cards

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Sympathy cards, a must in your midlife toolkit

Sympathy CardsSympathy cards are a must have in your Midlife Toolkit.

Unfortunately, at our age, death becomes a frequent guest at our table. Our friends, co-workers, business associates, neighbors, etc… are in the same boat.

It seems that a week does not go by without learning of a death of somebody I know or somebody near and dear to a friend of mine. I attend a lot of funerals these days. Probably half of them are for people I don’t know. I attend for the surviving spouses and children, who I am close to. I also send sympathy cards to these people and to many more if I am not attending the service.


It may seem like a small or insignificant gesture, but I can assure you that it is very meaningful and appreciated by the grieving.

Because funerals and expressions of loss are for the living. We attend funerals and memorial services to show our respect for the deceased but also to show our support to those left behind.  I can tell you first hand how greatly I appreciated each and every card I have received in times of loss. Especially cards from people I did not know. It is very common that recipients will save the sympathy cards to revisit later. There is no overestimating how valuable your sentiments will be.


It is never too late. No matter when you learn of the death, even if is months, send a sympathy card. You can include: “I just heard of your mother’s passing, I am so sorry for your loss”.


You send the sympathy card to the person you know is grieving. You are trying to ease their loss. If you know several family members or very close friends of the deceased, send each of them a sympathy card.


In today’s digital age, we rarely have physical addresses which can make sending sympathy card a bit tricky at times. Do not call the grieving to ask for the mailing address. You can usually use Google to locate an address. Call a family friend who will have it. If all efforts fail, the obituary (which you can definitely google) will list the funeral home serving the family. You can send a sympathy card to The Family of John Smith, c/0 (example:Mapleville Funeral Home) and it will be forwarded.


It is fine to send a sympathy card with a pre-printed verse inside the card that you only have to add your signature. The most generous complement to a sympathy card is a brief story of a memory you have of the deceased and how it touched you. Do not add to the weight of their loss by describing how devastated you are.

Be Prepared

I keep a hefty supply of sympathy cards and stamps in my desk. The next time you go to the drug store, visit the greeting card section and pick up a dozen or so sympathy cards. In fact, they come in boxes of several near the stationery and thank you cards. You can get a nice boxed set of 30 delivered by amazon right here.

Sympathy Cards for Slackers

I know what you’re thinking.

Question: “Can I email my sympathies?”

Answer: Yes, but only if you do not have a close relationship. This is reserved for business associates, co-workers, and the like. The exception is for cases where you want to share a long story about the deceased. Begin with apology for emailing though. It is also considerate to include My Sympathies in the subject line. This way, if they are not in the mental state to read it right away, they know what is included in the note.

Also, NEVER mix a message of condolences with any other matter. Example: I am so sorry to hear that your mother passed away. Would you like to buy gift wrap from my son’s soccer team?

Question: Can I send my sympathies with a Facebook post?

Answer: OMG NO! If your surviving grief stricken friend has already posted about the death, you can comment with your sympathies. But you will get no Experience 50 brownie points. Private Message? Same.

It’s Good For You

I promise, that when you get in the habit of sending sympathy cards, it will be good for your heart, head and health. It is just one of those nice things that we can do to spread more love and understanding to our fellow man.

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