Family members are at once the easiest and the most difficult to address when it comes to expressing condolences. You know them better than anyone, so you shouldn’t have to worry about any sort of faux pas, yet the grief is very close to home, and you’d sooner eat a whole jar of jalapeno peppers than cause them any pain with a poorly worded sympathy card. The best thing to do is keep it simple, straightforward and honest, as in this sample:
Dear Aunt Sally;
I was so sorry to hear about Uncle Joe. He was such a devoted husband, father and friend to all. I have such fond memories of our summers by the lake. Uncle Joe always told the best ghost stories! You’re in my heart and my prayers, and I’m thinking of you always.
The formula is very simple: Open with an expression of condolence, extol the virtues of the deceased, bring up a cherished memory of happier times, and finish by letting the person know how much you care for them and are thinking of them.