Sympathy notes for friends and acquaintances are not too different from co-workers, except you won’t likely be signing a large card from everyone. Once again, try to respect their religion by not sending something with strong religious connotations that does not fit in with their particular faith or observance. Open with an expression of condolence, empathize, depending on the nature of their loss, and finish with a show of support.
Avoid adding the phrase “call me if you need anything” unless you really expect them to call. Too many people add that sentiment to a sympathy card for lack of anything better to say. They’re well meaning, but if you’re not close enough to someone that they would feel comfortable actually calling you for a ride to the store or some help with the funeral arrangements, then it may simply sound insincere.
On the other hand, if it is someone who might actually want you to babysit or help out in some way, by all means, put that in your note, and underline the words “call me.” Here’s how a sympathy note for a friend or acquaintance might go:
I’m so sorry about your mother. I can’t imagine what you must be going through. We’re all thinking about you, and when you’re ready, we’d like to take you out for brunch with the girls. Please let me know if you need me to babysit so you can have some alone time, or anything. We miss you!
I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother. I know that she practically raised you. If you need anything at all, give us a shout. The guys all say hi, and we’re thinking about you.