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Sympathy and Condolence Advice

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How to write a sympathy note, share condolences, comfort and support the bereaved

When someone you care about is grieving, it's hard to find the right words.

What should you say in a condolence message? What common sympathy expressions should you avoid? What else can you do to comfort a bereaved friend?

To help you support a grieving colleague, friend or family member, Legacy offers advice from condolence experts.

Click on the links below to learn more about how to write condolence notes, offer sympathy, what not to say and more.

Sympathy and Condolences Examples

When someone you care about has lost a loved one, it can be hard to know what to say. But it's important to say something. Sharing your condolences lets them know you care and offers comfort in one of the hardest times they'll ever experience.

Why Write Sympathy Notes?

When someone dies, all we have left are our memories. Sympathy notes that express your condolences bring comfort to the bereaved. The most meaningful ones include your thoughts, personal memories and, if possible, a treasured story. 

How to Write a Condolence Note

There's no need to let a friendship suffer just because of worries over how to express our sorrow. If we stick to some basics, offering condolences is not as hard as it sometimes feels.

Simple Ways to Show Sympathy

Showing your sympathy to a grieving friend is easy—and will be much appreciated. Learn which small gestures mean a lot.

The Power of Condolences

Friends and family members play a crucial role in extending support during the mourning period. We do this by offering condolences to communicate our sympathy. Expressing condolences is our way of showing compassion and concern and there is a myriad of ways to do this

Comforting the Bereaved Through Supportive Listening

What mourners need most are listeners, and it can be hard to find them. How can we more effectively listen and be present in a conversation with our friends and loved ones so they will open up and share their emotions?


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Is "I'm Sorry" Becoming a Cliché?

Saying, “I’m sorry” or, “I’m sorry for your loss” has been an accepted way to extend condolences for just about forever. So what can you say that is appropriate? You want to show empathy, but that can be tricky. 

What Not to Say After a Death

It's easy to say the wrong thing, even when you have the best intentions. Even those with the best intentions might say something inappropriate to the bereaved. Hurtful sentiments can damage relationships; so many individuals stay away, fearing they'll say the wrong thing. Learn some of the sentiments to avoid when a friend is grieving.

It's Never Too Late to Send a Sympathy Note

Who among us hasn’t had the best—but unfulfilled—intentions to visit a dying friend or relative? Or even to pop a card or note in the mail just to let them know they were in our thoughts?  It's human nature to procrastinate, but you can still say what you need to say—even if it's long overdue.

What to Say to Someone Who Is Dying

Visiting a friend or loved one who has a terminal illness can be scary, but don't let nervousness keep you away. This article offers tips and support to help you make this important visit.

Must Bereaved Parents Grieve Alone?

The death of a child is particularly tragic. It is unexpected and shocking, totally out of the natural order of things. The true way to mourn the dead? Take care of the living who belong to them.

Condolences When a Friendship Is Strained

You can still reach out and send condolences to the bereaved, even if your friendship has faltered.

How to Comfort When a Pet Dies

Pets share a special place in our lives and become a member of the family. They’re good for us, bringing pleasure, companionship, comfort, and love. So it should be no surprise that when they die, we grieve for them.

When a Bereaved Coworker Returns to the Job

If you worry about what to say and do when a bereaved coworker comes back to work, you're not alone. Although nothing can change the loss, human kindness and community make a difference.

How to Write Condolences on Facebook

Facebook has become a major channel for your friends to share and mourn the death of their loved ones. The sympathy and condolence messages Facebook friends write have become a source of comfort as the bereaved mourn their loss.

Are you grieving the loss of a loved one? Find comfort in one of our grief support groups.

What Kind of Flowers Should I Buy for a Funeral?

Sending flowers is a perfect way to express sympathy after a death. But do you know just what kind of arrangement is appropriate to send, or where you should send it? Have you ever wondered if there are times when you shouldn’t send flowers, or what might be a good alternative? Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about funeral flower etiquette.


Funeral Flower Messages: What to Say

When someone suffers a loss, one way to show you care is to send flowers. The act alone demonstrates compassion and gives you a chance to offer sympathy. By including a thoughtful message or card with the flowers, you can make one of life's most difficult experiences a bit easier to bear.


Funeral Etiquette

What is the difference between a memorial service and a funeral? What should I say to the deceased's family at the visitation? Does it matter what I wear? You have questions, we have answers.

Feeling Guilty About Missing a Friend's Funeral

Missing a funeral can bring up a lot of emotions, but guilt shouldn't necessarily be one of them. There are also other ways to pay your respects to the family and honor the deceased. Find out how.


Coping with Loss

Legacy offers advice from leading experts, helpful information related to loss, and grief support groups to help you cope with the death of someone important to you. Connect with others, find comfort and inspiration, and begin to heal.