postheadericon How to Create a Sympathy Card

Three Parts:Making a Sympathy Card by HandWriting the Sympathy MessageMaking a Sympathy Card Using Microsoft WordCommunity Q&A

If you have a friend, or family member who is grieving the loss of a loved one, a sympathy card might make them feel a little better! Knowing that someone is sympathetic to their loss may help to provide comfort to the recipient, and may also help them feel more open to you and more free to share their feelings.

= Part 1 Making a Sympathy Card by Hand 1 Gather your supplies. It will be easiest to make the sympathy card if you first gather all of the supplies you need. You can create the card using whatever supplies you wish, but some basics include: a nice piece of card stock that you can fold in half to make your card; an envelope; decorations for your card; paints, markers, pencils, or whatever you want to use to write on the card with, and glue to glue the decorations on. Card stock can typically be purchased at home office supply stores or craft stores. Consider purchasing a piece of color card stock. You don’t have to purchase a plain white piece of card stock. Instead, you could purchase a nice shade of pale blue or purple, for example. If you decide to use a piece of color card stock, you might then glue a piece of tissue paper in a soft, complimentary color to the front. White is a safe choice, if you are having a hard time deciding. 2 Decide how you will decorate your card. Before you start gluing and drawing or writing, decide how you want to decorate the card. If you have purchased decorations, such as paper flowers, lay them out on the front of the card before gluing so you can see what you want it to look like. If you plan to write something on the front of the card, practice writing it in neat handwriting before you do it on the card. Make sure that you write it large enough that it will fill the card, but small enough so that you can fit it how you want to on the front. Some suggestions include: “Sharing Your Loss,” “I’m Sorry for Your Loss,” or “Thinking of You.” It is not necessary to use words on the front of the card unless you want to. You can also just decorate the front of the card with flowers or perhaps a small piece of lace like fabric; however, keep the decorations simple and a bit muted. You don’t want to make the card look like you are celebrating a party. 3 Consider adding a picture. If you don’t have any nice decorations you’d like to add, consider finding a nice picture to paste to the front. For example, of a nice landscape, or of some pretty flowers. 4 Glue a piece of paper to the inside. This is optional, but if you have purchased card stock that will be difficult to write on because it is textured, for example, you can also fold a normal piece of printer paper in half, and glue it to the inside of the card. This will provide you with a smooth surface to write on, and will also allow you to try again if you make a mistake. If this happens, simply pull out the sheet of paper and start again with a new one. Alternatively, write your sympathy note before gluing it inside the card, but make sure it will line up with the edge of the card properly. Part 2 Writing the Sympathy Message 1 Write out your message on a scratch piece of paper. This will give you an opportunity to work out exactly how you want the message to sound, and will give you a chance to work out any kinks. Take your time writing with this part. You want your message to be thoughtful and sincere. What you write here will depend on how close you are with the person receiving the card, as well as how well you knew the deceased. If you are more familiar, you may have more detail in your message. If you are less familiar, the contents of the card will be more formal. 2 Address the recipient. Begin with “Dear…” and write the name of the recipient. If you are not on a first name basis with the recipient, write “Mr.”, “Ms.”, or “Mrs.” and the last name. 3 Plan the body of your message. If you have a close relationship with the recipient, you can write a more personal message. Be sincere. Consider mentioning a good memory you have of the deceased. Explain that you are very sorry for the loss of the deceased, and don’t be afraid to call the deceased person by name. If you feel comfortable doing so, and can follow through, offer to support the recipient in any way you can. For example, “I would be happy to run any errands you might need during this difficult time.” Avoid cliches. Don’t say something like, “They are in a better place.” Not only has this been said over and over, and though it may or may not be true, most people don’t really want to hear it. At this moment, they would probably prefer the deceased was still alive. Make it personal. It can sometimes be hard to find the right words, but avoid just copying something from a store bought card, or something you find on the internet. The recipient will be able to tell that you didn’t come up with it on your own, especially if they know you well. Do not mention the cause of death in the note. The recipient knows this, and doesn’t need or want to be reminded of it. 4 Know what to write when you are not close with the deceased or the recipient. If you are not particularly close with the recipient and/or did not know the deceased, you will likely need to write a more formal message; however, it should still be sincere. These five suggestions will help you provide comfort to the the grieving person: Acknowledge their loss. You can say something like, “I recently learned of the death of ________.” You can also use the word “passing” instead of “death.” However, using the stronger word demonstrates that you are open to conversation about the deceased.[1] Show them that you are concerned.[2] You could say, for example, “I can’t imagine the pain your are feeling right now” or “I’m so sorry you are going through this.”[3] Include a genuine statement. This will help show the recipient that you didn’t just copy it from a store-bought card. For example, you could say, “I am not really sure what to say, but I hope you know that you are in my thoughts.”[4] Alternatively, you could also say, “I know that these words do not heal the pain you are feeling, but I hope it helps to know that you are cared for.” Offer support.[5] If you know that they have children, you could offer to take care of them for a few hours while funeral arrangements are being made.[6] If they don’t have children, you could say something like, “I would like to bring you a homemade meal; please let me know when I can drop something off for you.” Make sure you can deliver on what you offer, though. If the recipient does take you up on your offer, it will leave both of you feeling sad if you have to turn them down. Ask them how they are feeling.[7] This will invite them to get in touch with you, if they need someone to talk to. For example, “Are you doing alright? Here is my number, if you want to chat.” Avoid stating how you think they feel, as you don’t know really. For example, don’t say, “I know you’re feeling very sad, and we can talk if you want to.” Everyone grieves differently, and if they are still in shock over the death, they may not be feeling much of anything at the moment. 5 Write the message in the card. Now that you have planned out the card, you should rewrite it carefully inside the card. Take your time, and write slowly. Use your best handwriting. You want to the recipient to be able to read your note easily. Use a high quality pen, and make sure it has enough ink before starting. You don’t want it to quit halfway through. You should also stick to more traditional color ink, such as blue or black. Sign the card. You can finish the card with a salutation such as, “Love,” or “Sincerely,” and your name. 6 Address the envelope and mail or deliver it. If you plan to send your letter in the mail, neatly write the name and address of the recipient. Make sure to include your name and a return address either in the top left hand corner of the envelope or on the back flap. If you don’t plan to mail the card, you should still place it in an envelope with the recipient’s name on it. If you are sending it through the mail, make sure to put it in the mailbox promptly. If you put it off you may forget to mail it all together. If you are hand delivering the card, make sure you do it at a time that is convenient for the recipient. When hand delivering your card, don’t wait around expecting the recipient to hang out with you unless they ask you to. Part 3 Making a Sympathy Card Using Microsoft Word 1 Use a program such as Microsoft Word to create a card digitally. In Microsoft Word, open a blank document in “Publishing Layout View.” You can find this view on the bottom, left-hand side of the screen. These instructions apply to Microsoft Word 2011 for Mac. Be aware that, although the instructions will be more or less the same across the various versions of the program, there may also be slight differences. For example, you might have to look for some buttons in a different location. 2 Add a page. In order to create a card that you can fold in half, you will need to have two pages open in your workspace. You can add a page by clicking the drop down arrow next to the “Add” button in the top left corner of the page. Click on the arrow and a drop down box will appear. Select “New Page,” and a second page will appear underneath the original blank document. Be aware that in order to create a card that is foldable, you will need to print double sided on one piece of paper. Alternatively, you could make the outside of the card in one go, print the card, and then open a new document to make the inside. The advantage here is that if you don’t own a duplex printer (that prints double sided automatically), you will have plenty of time to insert the card back in the printer properly before printing the second side. 3 Change the page orientation. To make a traditional sympathy card, you will need to change the orientation of the page from “Portrait” to “Landscape.” In the “Page Setup” dialogue, select “Landscape” and the orientation of the page should change. Meaning it will go from a tall (“Portrait”) document in your viewer to a wide (“Landscape”) document. 4 Change the margins. The margins limit the area on the page where you can place text. For the purpose of your card, you can set the margins quite wide. However, you don’t want them to be too wide, or it may affect the way the card prints. A safe bet is to set each margin (top, bottom, left, right) to .25″. This will still leave a tiny bit of white space, but in the case of the sympathy card, it will look neat and clean. You can change the margins by going to the “Layout” tab, then typing in the margins that you want under the “Margins” heading. 5 Start with the outside of the card. The outside of the card will be what the recipient first sees when taking the card out of the envelope. Remember to keep the card simple and muted. Try to choose soft colors, such as pastels. 6 Insert a text box. Underneath “Insert” select “Text Box,” and a small box will appear in the middle of your document. Resize the box by hovering over the edge of the box and dragging the corners. Guide lines should appear if you drag the box to fill up half the page. The text box should fill up the right half of the page, this is because you will be folding it in half once you print it out. Assuming you fold the card to look like a standard card, you will fold it left to right, making the right half of the page the front. Inserting a text box will give you more control over the document. 7 Change the color of the text box. By default, the text box will not be filled with color. If you wish to add a background color to your card, you can do so by right clicking inside your box and selecting “Format Shape…” A dialogue will pop up giving you many options, the first of which is called “Fill.” In this tab, choose what kind of fill you would like (“Solid,” “Gradient,” “Picture or Texture,” and “Pattern”), then choose the color you want from the drop down box next to “Color.” You can also make the color more or less transparent by dragging the slider next to “Transparency.” 8 Send the text box to the back. Now that you have your background, you will want to send the text box all the way to the back. If you don’t, any images or text you add might disappear behind the box. Do this by right clicking on your text box, mousing over “Arrange,” and selecting “Send to Back” in the box that drops down. 9 Decorate your card. Now you can add text to the card if you want by adding another text box (make sure to change the fill to transparent so that it will match the background). You can write something such as, “I’m sorry for your loss,” “Thinking of You,” or “Condolences.” If you choose to add words to the front of the card, keep it short and simple. You can use one of the suggestions above, or you can browse the commercial cards to find something suitable. 10 You can change the font and size of your text in the “Home” tab. Make the font large enough so that it will be easily readable by the recipient, and try to stick to an elegant font such as Lucida Calligraphy. Don’t forget that you will be folding the card in half when you print it out, so you shouldn’t decorate the entire page. Instead, keep all of your decoration inside the background text box you created. 11 Add clip art. Microsoft Word comes with a gallery of default images that you can use for your card. You can view this gallery by going to “Insert” and mousing over “Clip Art.” From the drop down box, select “Clip Art Gallery.” Here you can search for images or browse through the categories. Once you’ve chosen an image (keep it tasteful!), select the image and then “Insert.” The image will then appear in your document. You can resize the image, and place it where you want. Inserting an image may resize your background text box. Don’t worry! Simply resize the text box to fill half the page again. If Word won’t let you move the image to your desired position, try changing the “wrapping.” You can do this by right clicking the image, mousing over “Wrap Text…” and choosing “Through” from the drop down box. Now you should be able to place the image anywhere on the page. 12 Add a photo or picture you have on your computer. If you don’t like any of the images in clip art, you can also use your own. Do this by selecting “Insert,” mousing over “Photo…” and choosing “Photo Browser,” which will show you thumbnails of all the pictures on your computer, or “Picture from File,” which will allow you to choose a photo based on it’s location on your hard drive. If you already know the photo you want, as well as it’s file name and location, choosing “Picture from File” is a better option. 13 Write your message. Once you have finished decorating the outside of the card, you can move to writing your message. At this point, you have two options: You can print your card out as is, and then open a new document to type your message (recommended if you don’t have a duplex printer). You can move to the second page in your document and type your message. 14 Type your message. In your new document (or blank page), add a text box as you did before, and resize it so that, again, it fills the right half of the page. If you wish to, you can again change the background fill of the text box to a nice color. However, choose wisely as you want the actual text to be clear and easy to read. For example, don’t choose a background color that will then wash out the text. 15 Choose a nice, easy to read font. Again, stick with something elegant and simple. You should also consider the recipient. For example, if they are very old, it may be difficult for them to read cursive fonts, or font sizes that are very small. Fonts such as Comic Sans are not appropriate for an occasion such as this. Stick to something such as Lucida Sans or Times New Roman. You might also consider resizing the font. Font size 12 or 14 is usually a good choice as it will be easy to read, but won’t look awkwardly large inside the card. 16 Type your message. This should be done in the same manner as with the handmade card. It should include all of the same elements. For example, it should be sincere, it should acknowledge the loss of the deceased, make an offer to help, and ask them how they’re doing.[8] The advantage of an e-card is that you will be sure that the type is neat, and it will be easy to correct if you make a mistake. Be sure to include all of the salutations (e.g. “Dear Mr. Smith,” and “Sincerely,”) the same as you would with a handmade card. 17 Align the text. The default alignment is usually “Right Aligned,” and this is OK. However, you might also wish to center the text in the box. If so, under “Paragraph” select “Center Text.” Don’t forget to highlight the text you want to have center aligned! You should select the salutation at the end of the text, and “right align” it, as this traditionally belongs on the right side. 18 Finalize and print the card. Make sure you proof read all of the text carefully. Make sure all of the images and front text are positioned just how you want them. If you have already printed out the front side of the card, you should now re-insert your card into the printer. This part can be a bit tricky if you don’t have a duplex printer, but it is possible to print it on both sides. Basically, you will have to determine how the printer feeds the paper to determine how you should re-insert it so that you will print on the opposite side, and with the correct alignment. If you have a duplex printer, simply select double sided printing in your print dialogue. This will vary from computer to computer, but the option will appear somewhere in the dialogue that pops up when you select “Print.” You should print the card out on a quality piece of printer paper using color ink. 19 Fold the card and place it in an envelope. Once you have successfully printed your card, fold it so that the left half of the page folds over the right hand side of the page. You should now have a piece of paper that looks just like a store bought card. Just like a handmade card, you should now place the card in an envelope with the recipient’s name and address, if you plan to mail it. If you plan to hand deliver it, the recipient’s name should be sufficient.

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