Sympathy Cards: Who Should the Card be Addressed to?



by Jennifer

I work with this girl and her husband’s grandfather died. One of the girls bought a sympathy card for everyone to sign. I signed the card with my condolences to Matt (the husband) & family. I was always told to address the blood relative. I mean who has ever heard of getting a card for the grandsons wife??? I was told I was being mean when I did this. Was I in the wrong????
Simple Sympathy’s Response

Dear Jennifer,

This a really common question around here. It can be tricky to know who to address the sympathy card to, not only who to include, but also how each person should be addressed.
As a general rule you want to include people rather than leave any individuals out. In some situations you might want to just write, “to the family of (the deceased’s name) just to avoid any hurt feelings.
Sympathy cards are usually sent (mailed) to the closest blood relative or the individual most impacted by the loss, i.e. the widow, widower, son, daughter, etc.
However, if there are other individuals in the household they should be included in the sympathy greeting since they certainly will be affected by the loss as well.
To answer your question more specifically…No, you are not mean. Your condolences are fine since you added, “and family.” If you or a co-worker are still concerned, you could change it to “the family of (deceased’s name).”

The most important thing to keep in mind is to simply acknowledge the loss. You don’t have to say anything amazing, just let them know that you are sorry for their loss. Don’t be distracted by formalities. The bereaved hardly notice such things, but they do notice when nobody sends a card.

Good for you and your co-workers for thinking to send a condolence card. Little things like this do make a big difference.

Best Wishes,