Some examples of sympathy messages include expressing sorrow for the loss, saying that deep sadness is felt, and mentioning that the individual is being remembered in thoughts and prayers. Hallmark lists several categories of messages that are appropriate for a sympathy card, including giving praise for the deceased person, sharing memories and faith, and offering support and comfort.
If the writer of the message knew the deceased person but not his loved ones, it is appropriate to mention the connection to the deceased person in the message. If the deceased person was a colleague, it may be appropriate to send a card or flowers from the group.
Hallmark also lists phrases to avoid in expressing sympathy because they may seem insensitive to the surviving person's emotional pain. Saying "I know how you feel" may not be genuine, since everyone experiences grief in personal ways. Instead of dwelling on pain and tragedy with a statement like "he was too young," offer support instead. Don't use statements like "you should" or "you will." A writer who is worried about saying something inappropriate should write a short, general message of sympathy. Depending on how well the writer of the card knew the deceased or his loved ones, it may be appropriate to include an inspiring quote from a famous person.