Retirement is a week filled with Saturdays and Sundays interrupted only occasionally by a holiday.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Expressing Our Sympathy

Today Hubby asked me to find a sympathy card while I was out doing my chores. He received an email last night letting us know someone he used to work with lost his wife this week. Hubby not only worked with the husband but also with the wife many years ago and, for a short time, we used to play golf with this couple on occasion. So, while we know this couple, we were never the closest of friends and have been out of touch with them for several years. Still, we want to acknowledge our sorrow with a card.

On my list of places to visit today while out running errands, I included a party store where they have a large selection of greeting cards. I found the Sympathy card section and began to pick up and read each card trying to find just the right one. What an act of frustration that was. Each and every card I read had some kind of “sing-song-y” poem that made me want to wretch. Come on…who in their right mind would send such a treacly card to a grieving widower? I could not find one card with an appropriate message of condolence.

I’m home now trying to decide if I should go out to another greeting card store or find one of our pretty blank cards and write our own message of sympathy. Here’s the problem…I have never been able to express myself in times of sadness. Whether it’s face to face or in a card or letter, I just cannot find the right words to offer someone, in pain, the comforting words he or she needs. It’s not that I don’t feel compassion for the person…it’s just that I feel incapable of expressing my condolences in just the right way.

So here I’m sitting in front of my computer trying to decide whether to go find a store-bought card or take a blank card and write a personal message of sympathy. Sigh…


patches said...

Words escape me too during times like this. I always feel the recipient is looking at me to saw more, when maybe it's me just wishing I had more hope to offer. With a blank card, I like to look for quotes online to get me started, then maybe add a brief wish of condolence to with it.

Renee said...

For a brief time they had those machines that would print out a card for you in the card shops...but then they started selling the same software to make the cards yourself at home. I think that they really need to put them back in the stores because I spend a lot of time looking for the right card. And you're right there are tons that say a bunch of stuff you would never ever want to send to someone.
For Mother's day there were all these cards that said what an inspiration and stuff...when all I wanted to say is Happy Mother's Day, we love you. bah!

I hope you find the card that works best for you.

Sympathy cards are hard. Here are some phrases that came with my box of blank cards:
My (or Our) thoughts and prayers are with you.
We share in your loss and are thinking of you.
With deepest sympathy.
May you find comfort with family and friends.

hope that helps.

Susie said...

Hi Joan,
I just had this same problem this week. Some dear friends of ours lost this granddaughter at birth. So sad, and the expressions I often say, such as "may your wonderful memories comfort you" just didn't work in this case.
My heart was breaking for all of them.
Just speak from your heart. He will love that you took the time to care.

Lynn said...

You could always use the poem we had for dad's funeral...or I may have a sympathy card for you to use...ask me tomorrow night.

Patti said...

I usually just write "Thinking of you at this time."
--if I am not that close to them but want to express my sympathy.

the widower will only remember the thought, not the exact wording

rosemary said...

Actually Joan you said it very well in your blog....

hard to find the right words during a time of sadness

you need comforting for your loss

please let us know if we can help.

The best thing you can do is call this man in a few months when everyone else has forgotten him.

Michele said...

"May the love of those around you help you through the days ahead."

It's tough picking out a card for this occasion. I will usually just purchase a blank one and write a brief message. I know people at this time will not want to read a long written message so the shorter the message the better and the more meaningful it will be.
Rosemary said it well, she gave some good advice.

Iamthebookworm said...

I never know what to say in this situations. I always go with "I'm so sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you." and leave it at that.

meno said...

All these people are so smart. Listen to them, not me, who never knows what to say.

Joan said...

Patches: I think I need to start collecting appropriate quotes to seems I'm sending far more sympathy cards now than I've ever sent before.

Renee: Thanks for your suggestions...I'm going to keep a file of appropriate sayings for future use.

Susie: I'm so sorry to hear about your friends' tragedy. There can be nothing worse than the loss of a child.

Lynn: Remind me to ask you for that sympathy card!

Patti: Thanks for the suggestion! I'm adding it to my collection.

Rosemary: Wow...thanks! It never dawned on me to look at my own writing to find the right thing to say.

Michele: Thanks for your help. I would rather write something myself instead of sending a printed card so now I have ideas to use.

Iamthebookworm: When I worked, we would often send a group card to someone who'd suffered a loss and each of us would write a little something and sign the card. I'd often include something very similar to your suggestion so I'm not sure why I forgot that.

Meno: I don't believe you...I'm sure you say just the right thing at the right time.

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

you already got the best advice, sorry i am late! in my experience it is best to just be yourself and write from your heart. too many people, when they don't know what to say, will say nothing and that is the worst thing! like when i got cancer, people avoided me and i know it was because they were uncomfortable and didn't know what to say. good luck!

smiles, bee