It is generally inappropriate to send a sympathy card when the intent or result of sending the card is other than a sincere expression of comfort and support. It is also inappropriate if the sender’s intent is to gloat, offend or cause pain or if the card contains inappropriate material.

In some cases, it may be inappropriate to send a pre-printed card when the nature of the relationship of the parties calls for a handwritten note. People also often question the appropriateness of sending cards late, weeks or months after a loss, fearing the card may serve as a painful reminder. The exact opposite is true, according to etiquette experts. The expression of support is welcome, especially when the bereaved continues to suffer pain from a loss and feels that others have moved on or feels forgotten.