Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Condolence Notes...

Hi Blog Peeps!!

I had planned my next post on handwritten notes, not only with the intention of posting some time ago (sorry, but it was far too nice to sit inside & blog!) and to be about writing Thank You notes. They are often overlooked or not sent at all & they are the most sincere form of note writing that you could do...until my mother-in-law asked me to send a condolence note to a family friend.

I have to admit something here...this is not a form of note writing that I am familiar with. Perhaps it's my age? The only people I know who have passed are close family members like my grandparents. So here we are, dear readers, as I take you along on my journey to figure out what to say to this family friend at such a time. Ironically, I was having a conversation about just this thing 2 weeks ago with an older friend who has children just going to college. They are of the age that email, texting & Facebook updates have replaced all written correspondence & she recently had to goad them into writing a condolence letter.

Their big complaint & reluctance to do it: They had no idea what to say.

Me neither, so I did 2 things: 1. I bought a condolence card at my local card shop & 2. looked up examples on the internet. I am happy to report that About.com not only gives examples & advice for condolence letters, but also for condolence NOTES. See! Again, proof that handwritten notes need not be a book!

The point in this type of note writing is to show your support & sympathy for the friends and/or family of the deceased. There is no pressure to do anything except extend that sentiment in a short & meaningful note. After all, the definition of console is to comfort at a time of grief or sorrow.

Here are the steps they recommend:

  1. Acknowledge the loss and refer to the deceased by name.
  2. Express your sympathy.
  3. Note any special qualities of the deceased that come to mind.
  4. End the letter with a thoughtful word, a hope, a wish, or expression of sympathy e.g. "You are in my thoughts" or “Wishing you God’s peace.” Closing such as "Sincerely," "love," or "fondly," aren’t quite as personal.

So, after a little deliberation, I added the following note after the greeting card message:

Dear (name left out for privacy),
We were so sorry to hear about the death of your mother. Your family is in our thoughts & prayers.
Wishing you peace,
(our signatures)

I found getting a card with a pre-written sentiment was helpful, although not necessarily encouraged by some of the sites I read. It sort of broke the ice for me. But, as About.com points out, the most important thing is that your message comes from the heart.

Hope everyone has had a great end of summer & is picking out pumpkins for Fall. A woman on my street has one that, if it wasn't sitting on her stoop, I'm sure would have won a blue ribbon at a county fair somewhere. It's huge. Happier subjects next time!
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