The Etiquette for Sending Sympathy Cards in a Timely Manner

Words of condolence from a friend or acquaintance often comfort the bereaved.
... David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images

Acknowledging the grief of a friend or colleague with a sympathy card may help bring comfort during difficult times. Send the note as soon as you hear of the death, even if it has been several weeks or even months after the fact. Following up with occasional "thinking of you" cards or notes is also a nice touch.

1 What to Say

Keep your note simple. Introduce yourself and, if you don't know the person receiving the note, explain your connection to the deceased. Share some happy event that you shared with the deceased or mention a positive memory that you have of the individual. If your connection is to the note's recipient, rather than to the deceased, just let him know that you are thinking of him and offer your condolences. Unless you are close enough to the family that you would normally be visiting with them in person, mail your card. Depending on the circumstances, the family may not have either the facilities or the emotional reserves necessary to receive visitors.

Pamela Martin has been writing since 1979. She has written newsletter articles and curricula-related materials. She also writes about teaching and crafts. Martin was an American Society of Newspaper Editors High School Journalism Fellow. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Teaching in elementary education from Sam Houston State University and a Master of Arts in curriculum/instruction from the University of Missouri.