Over the last year, I have learned that there is a correct way to send/write a sympathy card. And, considering most people feel really awkward about writing those types of cards, I thought I would give you a few pointers. To get it out on the table, there is no 'right' thing to say....there are a few 'wrong' things to say. One of which is writing that you know how they feel....no....you don't. Even if you have been in a similar circumstance, you do not know exactly how they feel...even if they are in your family. Grief is different for everyone and everyone responds differently.
All sympathy cards look the same after the first 2. So, my recommendation is to send a personalized note. The lame sympathy cards that are available just get old to those that are receiving them. I know you have no idea what to say and you feel Hallmark does....nope. One of my favorite things to read were the sentiments written by people about specific things that they remembered. If you know the person that passed away well, write one of those. Or, if you know their family member, write about what you remember they were close to that person about. For example, for someone that didn't know my Mom but knew me, "Ann, I know you will miss talking about KU basketball games with her. But, if you ever want to talk basketball, I would be happy to."
Make it personal. Let them know that you are praying for them. That actually really helps to provide comfort...or at least it did to me.
The appropriate time to send your thoughts. Everyone sends cards at the beginning. You are bombarded for weeks with cards. But, then it all stops quite suddenly. And the grieving person feels exceptionally lonely. Therefore, if you haven't gotten around to sending the card for three months and you feel exceptionally guilty....don't. You should send the card. In my experience, I really enjoyed the cards that I received 'after the fact.' They helped to remind me that I was not forgotten.
So...my advice is to stay out of the sympathy aisle at Hallmark. I know they are doing their duty but a personal note is a really nice gesture. I have decided I will never buy another sympathy card for someone. I have all of Hallmarks current one's and I don't need to see anymore.