Sympathy Card Message Disaster:
When something awful happens, it can be difficult to find the right words to express sympathy. If you write the wrong thing, you might inadvertently write something that might offend, confuse, or upset the person. The last thing you want to do after someone has lost a relative, friend, pet or a job is add insult to injury. Some common cliche phrases and subjects should be avoided, to ensure that your sympathy message is supportive and encouraging.
Most of the time when people write these harmful sympathy messages, the meaning is not what they intended. They simply don’t see it from that person’s view or don’t predict ways the message could be interpreted. Check over this list of what not to write in a sympathy card, and you will avoid writing a harmful sympathy message.
“I Know How You Feel”
One of the most cliche things to say is, “I know how you feel,” which is usually followed by a description of when you went through something similar. The first question to ask yourself is, do you really know how the person feels? You probably haven’t been in the exact same situation. Even if you have, ask yourself what good it’s going to do to say you’ve been there.
A second problem with this cliche is the lengthy description that people sometimes write about their own problem. Sure, sometimes it is nice to know that things are going to get better, but you don’t need to make it all about you. Focus your sympathy message on the person who needs your sympathy.
“I Know Something Good Will Come from This”
You don’t want to use this seemingly encouraging line because there’s no way for you to predict the future. Even if you are writing this based on the Bible verse, you might want to consider the rest of the verse and the context which includes, “to them who love God and are called according to His purpose…” You will not be able to figure out if everything will work together for good period, let alone whether it will positively affect the person left to grieve the loss.
“You Owe Me Sixty Eight Bucks Now”
When you find out that the person you loaned sixty eight dollars has died, the sympathy card message isn’t your chance to be the collection agency. In fact, you should considering the money a sympathy gift for the grieving, especially if it is under one hundred dollars.
Wait until the time is appropriate to mention that you had loaned money or any other item to the surviving family. This takes tact because sometimes possessions are being split up between family members. Either way, you don’t need to put it in the sympathy card.
How to Make Sure You Wrote a Good Sympathy Message
Check your sympathy message with a face to face test. Imagine yourself face to face with the grieving person, and then read your sympathy card message. See if this is something that you would actually say to the person, and ask yourself all the different ways the person could take your message. If you find any way the message could be interpreted negatively, then you should edit it.
If you have trouble starting or knowing some good examples of sympathy card messages, you can easily find examples online. Some sites specialize in greeting card messages, while others are all about creating sympathy cards. Either type of site will give you the examples of sympathy messages you need, and you can compare yours.