How to Write a Sympathy Note with Confidence

Your best friend’s father has passed, a co-worker just lost his wife to a long illness, or the unspeakable; someone you know has lost a child.  You’ve looked at every sympathy card available only to realize each fall short for such a time as this. You decide to write your own in a blank note card, but still, you can’t imagine how any words can bring comfort.  Most of us, at one time or another, have experienced this.

It’s true, to some degree, that there are few words which can comfort someone in their time of tragedy; trying to reach into that space of sorrow, so isolated and dark, seems like an unconquerable task.  Nevertheless, when you reach out to such a one during this time you offer a consolation and reassurance so desperately needed.  It let’s them know you care, and they are not alone.  What better way to express that than in your own words.

“But, how do I write a sympathy note without saying the wrong thing?”  That seems to be the question most of us have.  During such life altering circumstances we aren’t always sure what to say or do, which in turn makes us uncomfortable.  To remain responsive to the bereaved individual, and to diminish any misgivings we may have about our ability to respond appropriately, perhaps it’s best to first define the word ‘sympathy’.  It will help us to understand the purpose of a sympathy note, and give us a better viewpoint from which to write it.

The Webster dictionary describes the word in part as “…the art or capacity of entering into or sharing the feelings or interests of another.”  From that perspective we can see that the purpose of writing a sympathy note is to let others know that we are allowing ourselves to share their feelings by sympathizing with their experience.  No matter what our personal experiences, we share in the emotions of another solely for their sake.

The word ‘sympathy’ is usually associated with times of adversity, which is the association we are referring to in this article, but sympathy can also be offered in times of joy; such as a friend’s job promotion, or the birth of a co-worker’s baby.  It’s the process of moving out of ourselves, regardless of happy or troubled circumstances in our own lives, and showing a genuine interest in what is happening in the life of another.

Now that we’ve established what sympathy is, let’s discuss six ways ways which will help us to write a sympathy note we can feel confident about sending.

Step Up To The Plate:  Sad emotions are not preferred ones for most people, but they’re a part of life.  Shying away from them, whether they are yours or someone else’s, doesn’t make them non-existent.  Before you pick up the pen, acknowledge the sadness; understand that there is a purpose behind it, and be willing to communicate.

Determine The Relationship:  Your relationship with the bereaved and/or the deceased will determine what and how much you say.  If the individual you are writing to is an acquaintance, a brief, but sincere note may better suite the situation.  “I heard of your mother’s passing, and I wish to acknowledge your loss.  You and your family are in my prayers,” is sufficient, since you are not in familiar standing with the individual or the deceased.  If, however, you know the bereaved or knew the deceased through a familial bond or friendship, you may wish to share a memory. This can strengthen the bond, and create a warm moment for the bereaved.

Offer Comfort, Not Healing:  Don’t place pressure on yourself by trying to heal the emotions of a grieving individual with words.  Healing is within the bereaved, and it will manifest in its own time and in its own way.  Offering comfort, and any assistance that is in your power to give for that moment, will be more effective.  “I offer my condolences to you on your wife’s passing.  I am preparing some meals for you, and I will deliver them Tuesday,” reassures the person that you care, and you are willing to be of service.  If you are not in a position to offer them physical comfort, supportive words are sufficient, “You are daily in my thoughts and prayers.  May this spiritual excerpt bring you solace.”

Don’t Make Assumptions:  People grieve in different stages, therefore it’s best not to make an assumption about their present emotions.  Writing, “I know how you feel,” even if you do, may seem presumptuous.  A phrase such as “I, too, have experienced the loss of a child.  I’m willing to listen if you wish to talk,” or “I can only imagine what you are going through, but I’m willing to listen to you, talk with you, or just be present with you,” allows your sympathy to be expressed without making assumptions.

Focus On The Present Moment:  Using phrases such as “This will pass”, or “Time will heal”, are usually irrelevant to a person who’s lost a loved one.  A grieving individual is not emotionally within time and space as you are logically experiencing it, and trying to convince them of those concepts is futile.  Reference the present moment at all times.  “You are in my heart during this sorrowful time,” or “Your father had a gift to bring out the best in people.  He will be remembered by many,” allows bereaved individuals the freedom to feel within the present moment, without the pressure of hurrying the healing process.  For most individuals, in a sense, time has stopped for them, and for a period they will be living life minute to minute.

Keep Your Words Sincere:  Remember, the purpose of a sympathy note is to express genuine interest in what another is experiencing.  Write only what you mean and can follow through with.  If you offer to bring meals for the family during a specific time, follow through.  If you mention in your note that you will call them, make time to call.  During this period in someone’s life they need to know your words are reliable.

My friends, don’t be afraid of words.  I must admit that when I sat down to write this article I knew what I wanted to say, but as the article progressed, I found myself doing the very thing I wished to alleviate for you; agonizing over words.  But the more we agonize over the “right” words the harder it will be to write the note.  You have good instincts; trust them.  You will write a sympathy note that you feel confident about sending if you

*Acknowledge sadness is a part of life, and has a purpose;
*Determine the relationship you have with the bereaved and/or deceased;
*Offer comfort with supportive words and, if possible, assistance;
*Don’t make assumptions about how someone may feel;
*Use phrases which focus on the present moment; and…
*Write only what you mean and can follow through with.

The more you let go of self, and relate to others from a place of love and compassion, expressing with the written word will come more easily to you.  Truthfully, that’s what the recipient of your note really wants; words that are genuine and sincere – your words.

Thank you for strolling by the Lane today.  May your day be full of joy, and…

Until next time, may happy days abound!



It Should Always Be Spring in Our Hearts

Welcome to Leisure Lane, my friends. I hope you are all enjoying a delightful day.  I am sitting here all cozy with a cup of tea, as the icy ‘rain’ comes down. A perfect day for writing the poem I promised myself I’d write on my next day off.  It was inspired from Psalm 118,”For this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice in it.” I’m sharing it here and hope you enjoy it and, perhaps, it will speak to your heart.

It Should Always Be Spring in Our Hearts

Some days are sunny and some days are not.
Some are successful and some come to naught.
No matter – our thoughts should always be taught,
It should always be spring in our hearts.

If I should awake with gloom in my soul,
I throw off the covers and go for a stroll
And listen for church bells to ring out the toll,
“It should always be spring in our hearts.”

Life is so precious, as everyone knows,
Though it’s not always filled with larks and meadows.
Yes, even when an icy wind blows,
It should always be spring in our hearts.

A wise book has said it’s the day the Lord’s made.
So, notice the flowers and every grass blade,
While taking a moment to rest in His shade.
It should always be spring in our hearts.

Autumn’s my favorite and yes, winter, too.
Summer’s just fine with its sweet morning dew.
But no matter if skies are drab gray or deep blue,
It should always be spring in our hearts.

Marianne Coyne


Thank you for joining me today. May your heart be full of spring no matter where you are, and…

Until next time, may happy days abound!

Marianne ♥

Note: The above poem by Marianne Coyne©2018.  All rights reserved.

You Never Know What Blessings

Good day, friends…

Have you ever received a rejection letter? I have – countless times – and just received one yesterday. It’s needless to say they’re disappointing. But, today, I ‘accidentally’ came across a poem in my files that I wrote last year, which was perfectly pertinent for moments like this. So, I posted it on my blog. I hope you enjoy it and it speaks to you, as well. It also helps to have a good friend to help you laugh about it – I had that perfect friend today, and I’m grateful for her. In fact, she was one of those blessings – unexpected, spontaneous, and refreshing. Enjoy!

You Never Know What Blessings

You never know what blessings
May come your way today.
Or how they’ll bravely find their way
Through clutter that you say.

But when your thoughts you quiet
And gently breathe each breath,
While you meditate on things of Life
And not the things of death;

Then you’ll hear the quiet knocking
Of a blessing sent to you;
Through the unlocked door within your heart
It will easily slip through.

So, put aside your frets each morn
And make a holy vow,
That each thought and word and deed today
Will permit a blessing now.

And if you do this faithfully,
You’ll find that more and more
You will never lack for all things good
Upon this earthly shore.


Marianne Coyne

Thank you for strolling by Leisure Lane.  If you missed my last post, The Old Square Kitchen Clock, just click here.  Your visits and comments are always appreciated.  May this day bring a blessing of pure joy to you, and…

Until next time, may happy days abound!


Note: The above poem by Marianne Coyne©2017.  All rights reserved by author.


The Old Square Kitchen Clock

Hello everyone.  Welcome to Leisure Lane.  I hope your new year is starting out healthy and happy.

At 5 o’clock p.m. on New Year’s day, I was sitting in the living room in the quiet, as the last glow of sunlight poured through the window onto the fireplace mantle.  Of course, that brought back nostalgic remembrances of my younger days in my mother’s home, and I thought of her kitchen clock  – the timely sentinel that watched over our family and tracked the minutes of our lives. A poem instantly ensued. I share it here, hoping it will also inspire you. Our clock was a soft white.  But I remember that red second hand turning and turning.

The Old Square Kitchen Clock

I think about the old square clock
That I remember well,
Hanging on the kitchen wall,
Telling what only time can tell.

It told our mother, when at Three,
Her children soon would carry
Bookbags packed with homework,
But for her smile would surely tarry.

And maybe waiting for them,
A homemade snack to hail the season.
Or maybe one for ‘just because’,
And no particular reason.

But just because she loved them,
Looking forward to their chatter,
About their day at school or play
And things that really matter.

It told us children, when at Five,
Our father soon would come.
Perhaps with presents he’d pick up
Along his travels home.

And soon we’d be around the table
Eating mom’s good dinner.
And afterwards sis and I took turns
To be the winner.

One would wash and one would dry,
It was a perfect process,
Unless the washer had to scrub
Pots full of double messes.

It told a family, when at Eight,
Their favorite show would start.
With bowls of fresh, warm popcorn
And laughter from the heart.

And we’d sit around the living room,
Cozy near the fire,
While we watched a funny skit or two –
Of that we’d never tire.

It told a father, when at Nine,
Bedtime was in tow.
And sis and I, and brother, too,
Hoped we’d wake to morning snow.

And maybe there would be a call,
In early morning hours,
To let us know our school is closed.
We’d pray with child-like powers.

And while we slept, the old clock ticked
All through the dark of night.
It never tired of its charge,
It never lost its sight.

It told a mother, when at Six,
‘Twas time to start anew;
The dawning day has its work
That comes with morning dew.

Morning prayers and breakfast
Are the first of many tasks.
Then get the children up and dressed,
Wash off their sleepy masks.

It’s time for school, it didn’t snow.
We’d drag our sleepy feet
To the table for our breakfast,
As we’d sit in our own seat.

The old clock’s steadfast minute hand
I’d often watch it turn,
Round and round its pleasant face
It passed without concern.

Many years now later,
Sitting in my living room,
I watch the last glow of the sun
On the fireplace all abloom.

As I glance toward my mantle clock,
It tells me that it’s Five,
And reminds me of a clock I knew
In days that once were alive.

Hugs and kisses, and laughter, too,
Could be counted by its dials.
And I wouldn’t give up one of those,
For they overshadow trials.

I think about the old square clock
That I remember well,
Hanging on the kitchen wall,
Telling what only time can tell.

Marianne Coyne ©2018

New Years day, 5:00 pm

Thank you for strolling by today.  God bless you, and…

Until next time, may happy days abound!


Note: the above clock image is from Pinterest

You Can Write a Book Review: 5 Tips To Show You How

Good day, friends…I hope you are all having a wonderful day.  Since I’m recuperating from a cold, I decided to share something old, but still pertinent. For those of you who love to read, but are shy about writing a review, this may be helpful. I wrote the following article for LinkedIn last January and thought to post it here on the blog.  I hope you enjoy it.

open book with script


You Can Write a Book Review: 5 Tips to Show You How

You just finished reading a book – now what? Book reviews are an essential form of word-of-mouth advertising for the author, especially if the review is a good one. They also help other readers to decide whether or not a book is worth the investment of their time and money. But the majority of readers will end up never leaving a review. Though the reasons may vary, I have discovered two major ones: the reader doesn’t know how to express his/her thoughts in writing and they’re afraid to try, or they don’t want to spend the time.

Writing a book review doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming, and doesn’t have to sound like it was written by the editor of Swank ‘n Stuff Publishers. It just has to be honest and brief. Here are 5 tips on how to write a book review, which will benefit both the author and readers.


It’s important to be honest when writing a review. Gushing over a book that you really didn’t care for isn’t helpful to the author or other readers. The whole purpose of a review is to express your true opinions about what you read. Whether you loved the book or not, state your opinion honesty and kindly, and give a reason or two to back up your viewpoint. For example: “I didn’t enjoy this book because there were too many misspelled words, which distracted me from the story. I hope the author will remedy this.”


Many readers won’t leave a review because they don’t consider themselves writers in the traditional sense, and they feel intimidated by publicly expressing their opinions. Or, and this is the worst reason, they don’t want to spend the time. Your review doesn’t have to be a dissertation. Keeping it brief and to the point, alleviates the anxiety associated with novice review writing, and it doesn’t take more than a minute or two of your time. It’s sufficient to simply state that you liked the book and give a few reasons why. For example: “I enjoyed reading this book because the humor with which it was written kept me wanting more,” or “I found this book to be funny and engaging. I especially related to the author’s frustration with a houseful of cats. I will definitely recommend this book to my pet-loving family and friends.” – Simple, honest, and brief.


When writing a review, it’s important not to give away too much of the story.
Keeping your review general, gives the next reader a chance to use their imagination. Using an excerpt or two from the book is fine in getting your point across, for example: “ ‘Josephine held her daughter in her arms. She pulled Mary as close to her as she could, as if she were holding her for the first time, but she knew in her heart it would be the last. She had to let her go.’ I loved the way the characters allowed me to feel their emotions.” The person reading a review wants to be intrigued by the information you give, but doesn’t want to hear too many details. Why would they want to read the story if they already know what happens? Don’t milk the cow dry – leave something for the next reader.


If for any reason you didn’t like the book you read, it’s imperative to be constructive and kind in your review. Raking the author over the coals is not only cruel, but doesn’t give the author a chance to improve. Be honest with the reasons you didn’t like the book, but also give ways in which you think the author could improve this particular book and his/her future ones. And if there is a saving grace about the book – something that you did like about it – don’t forget to mention it in your review.


As I said in the beginning, word-of-mouth is an essential form of advertising for an author. So the best time to write a review is immediately after finishing the book, when the characters and your emotive response are fresh on your mind and ready to be shared. The longer you postpone writing a review, there’s a greater chance you will never write it. While you’re still in the mood of what you’ve read, give it a go and let everyone know.

Don’t be shy. Writing a review is not as difficult as you might think, and you’ll feel good about being part of the wonderful literary experience. And who knows…one day you might even be inspired to write a book of your own.

Until next time, may happy days abound!


Note: This article originally appeared on LinkedIn, January 16, 2016

Happy New Year – 2018!

Don’t get all unraveled – it’s just a new year…Welcome to Leisure Lane, everyone.  I just popped by to wish you all a very happy, healthy, prosperous 2018! May your dreams come true, may friends, family, and love gather around your table and fill the corners of your life with laughter, not just this year, but all the years to come.  May you increase in goodness of soul, with the same surrounding you.  May happy, pretty things be part of your every day, and…

Until next time, may happy days abound!

Marianne ♥

Note: The above image is from The Knittington Fairy series by Marianne Coyne.  All rights reserved.

Merry Christmas To All!

Our frazzled little Knittington fairy is working her best to send you Merry Christmas greetings.  I hope you’re not as frazzled this holiday season.  Wishing you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!

Thank you for stopping by Leisure Lane, and…

Until next time, may happy days abound!

Marianne ♥

Note:  The above image is from The Knittington Fairy series by Marianne Coyne.  All rights reserved.

Elsie’s Rose Water Scones

“Elsie, what a nice surprise!” exclaimed Catherine.  “Please, come in.  I was just about to have some tea, and I’d love for you to join me.”  She hugged Elsie, who gingerly held a platter with some scones she had baked.

“Here you go, my dear,” Elsie said, handing her the platter.  “I thought you might like some of these, and they’d go perfectly with our tea.”  Her silvery voice and Mancunian accent seemed to sing the words.

“Oh my, thank you!”  She took the scones and led Elsie into the kitchen.  “Have a seat, Elsie.” A rose scent wafted up to Catherine, as she removed the plastic wrapping from the scones.  “Elsie, they smell heavenly!”

“Rose water scones,” Elsie acknowledged.  “I made them this morning and thought you and Alan might like to try them.”   Excerpt from Chapter three, River Runs Deep


Good day, friends!  Welcome to Leisure Lane.  I hope you enjoyed a lovely weekend and are ready for a lovely recipe.  In all the business of the holidays, I forgot to post it for you.  It’s one of two recipes that can be found at the end of my kindle romance ebook, River Runs Deep.  These scones are pretty and delicious, and they’re perfect for tea with friends or anytime.  If you try them, let me know.  Have a wonderful week, and until next time, may happy days abound!

Elsie’s Rose Water Scones

Makes 8

1 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
½ Tblsp baking powder
¼ cup granulated sugar
4 Tblsp cold butter, cut in chunks
1/3 cup milk
1 ½ – 2 tsp. of rose water
½ tsp. vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 425 F

*In a medium size bowl add flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar and mix well.
*Add butter and blend with a pastry cutter until mixture is crumbly.
*Add rose water and extract to milk and pour liquid into dry mixture. Stir gently with a spoon until blended and dough forms. The fewer strokes the better.
*Knead gently 2 or 3 times to form a solid ball.  Use a little flour if dough seems sticky.
*Place dough on greased cookie sheet and use fingers to pat into a circular shape 1- inch thick.  Cut circle into 8 wedges and slightly separate leaving some space between the wedges.
*Bake for 12-15 minutes until they begin to lightly brown.
*Ice or drizzle with rose water glaze.

Recipe may be doubled, if desired.

Rose Water Glaze


1/8 cup of confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. rose water (food grade)
¼ tsp. vanilla extract

Less than a drop of red dye for pink glaze – if desired.


Place sugar into a small bowl.  Add rose water, extract and red dye.  Stir until glaze is a loose consistency.  You may add more rose water to get the proper consistency.  May be drizzled onto scones or spread on top of scones to thinly cover tops.

Enjoy with hot tea or coffee and a friend!


Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

I’ve been singing that song for two weeks – believing when I sing!

Good day everyone!  In southeast Texas, it’s an amazing, wonderful, and I’d say, miraculous thing to see snow.  But, here it is – all 2-3 inches of it.

Though, to my sadness, it was melting faster than I could take these pictures.  But it came! And that’s really all that matters.  Glorious, beautiful snow.  I know my friends in northern areas may be rolling their eyes…I grew up with snow, so I understand the beauty and the hazards, as well.  But, when you haven’t seen it for years on end, it really is a treat.

Well, I just wanted to share. Thank you for strolling by Leisure Lane.  I hope you all enjoy a wonderful weekend, full of promise and beautiful things.  If it can snow in Texas, ANYTHING is possible!

Until next times, may happy days abound!

Marianne ♥


Happy Thanksgiving

Happy day, everyone…I hope you are all well and enjoying your day.  I just wanted to let you know that I will be taking a break from blogging for most of the holiday season.  The job will be taking a lot out of me for another year, so I thought I’d give myself one less thing to do on my list.  But I truly wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving, as you find new and wonderful things to be grateful for, and even the old, but fond memories of joyous occasions and loving people who have graced your life.  I know for certain you have graced mine.

Be blessed, and…

Until next time, may happy days abound!


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