Empathize When You Sympathize


Have you ever had a friend or relative involved in a tragic, life-changing situation? As a friend, you may feel obligated to do or say something to help reduce your friend’s pain.

One of the best things a friend can do during such a time is to produce a sympathy letter. Lets say your friend is in a car accident and has to be hospitalized for a week. There are three main steps to creating a heartfelt sympathy letter.

First, sit down with a pen and paper and jot down a few praiseworthy qualities and things you like about your friend. Second, begin writing. Remember to empathize when you sympathize. Finally, finish the letter by “leaving your door open,” or otherwise assuring your friend that you are there no matter what they may need.


The first step to writing a heartfelt sympathy letter is to brainstorm. Sit for a moment and think of a few admirable qualities your friend has. You could also think of a happy moment shared between the two of you. Start your letter with a unique introduction based off of one of your memories.

For example, if the two of you went mountain climbing together you might start off with, “To the Best Rock Climber in the World”. Then proceed to give a brief recollection of the event.

You might say something along the lines of, “I remember when we went to Rockville last year to go rock climbing. I was so scared, but you were there for me. Now I would like to be here for you.” Helping your friend to remember happy times can help to alleviate some of the pain they may be feeling based on their current situation.


The second step to writing comes from within. You must be sure to empathize in your writing. Sympathy is simply the act of feeling sorry or feeling pity for someone.

When you empathize, you put yourself into the shoes of someone else. You have to imagine yourself in their position.

Feel what they feel, and consider how they may be thinking. In doing this, you will be able to help your friend see that they are not alone.

Leaving your door open

Finally, end your letter by “leaving your door open.” This means making sure to provide help in any way possible. If your friend needs someone to watch their house during their hospital stay, you could offer to stop by every few days.

Make yourself available to your friend, and they will appreciate it much more than anything else you could think to give them. In addition, knowing that they have fewer things to worry about will significantly reduce your friend’s stress levels possibly leading to a more rapid recovery.

More: 7 Things You Shouldn’t Say to Those Who Are Depressed

In conclusion, writing a sympathy letter does not always have to be a grueling experience. By following three basic steps, you can make your friend feel so much better. Just remember to be sincere in your writing, and let your heart speak for you.