In Letters to Jackie: Condolences from a Grieving Nation, (Ellen Fitzpatrick) a friend wrote, “Finding the right words of comfort at a time like this is always difficult because all the words in the world won’t bring a loved one back. His laugh will never again be heard, his smile, seen or his hand, felt..."
It’s always difficult to know what to write on a sympathy card. The ones that mean the most to me are the ones in which the sender writes a memory or an encouraging Scripture verse instead of simply signing the card.
We lived in Bedford when our daughter Sarah died, so the funeral was held there; however, we buried her in Pennsylvania, very near my homestead. During the long trip back to Indiana, we stopped at a Bob Evans restaurant. Upon entering the ladies room, my eyes fell on a little tract lying on the counter. The message was about God’s presence in our heartaches. Afterwards I wished I had taken it, as I’m sure whoever had placed it there planned for it to be taken. Several days after returning to Bedford, I opened a card from our friends, Karl and Becky (incidentally, Becky is counting postmarks with us). I don’t remember what the card looked like, but I do remember the tract she included – yes, the very same tract that had brought comfort to my grieving heart in a Bob Evans restroom!
My friend, Beth, couldn’t come to Sarah’s funeral, but when she heard about Sarah’s death, she sat down at the piano and played, Day by day and with each passing moment, strength I find to meet my trials here… She tucked the lyrics in a card. The words still comfort me each time I hear them.
Daddy told me when he’d ask Mom to send a card to a family experiencing a death, she would say, “I will, but not for a couple weeks.” I understood how important that was after my mother died. My friend Susann sent me a card with this note, “By now your cards are getting few. I just want you to know I still remember and I care.”
Hallmark gives these suggestions for writing in a sympathy card:
- Your mother blessed so many people with her faith and kindness. Praying that you’ll find comfort in your memories of her and in the knowledge that others are missing her, too.
- What a good and generous man your father was. I thought his funeral service was a wonderful tribute to him and all he has done for our community. He will be missed.
- I’m going to miss her, too.
- I hope you feel surrounded by much love.
- Sharing in your sadness as you remember Dan.
- Sending healing prayers and comforting hugs. I am so sorry for your loss.
- Thinking of your family with love and wanting to help out in any way I can. I’ll call to see when would be a good night to bring over a meal.
- You’ve got so much on your mind and on your heart right now. We hope it will make one less worry to know that Kevin and I will be taking care of the yard for as long as you need.