As owner of the Weathered Raindrop Memorial Shop I have personally transcribed over 2,000 sympathy notes that buyers ask to be placed in the handmade memorial gifts they purchased through my shop. Just as every loss is different, sympathy cards, although the words are always meant to bring comfort, read differently to different people. Here is a look inside my personal journey with the sympathy card.
The best sympathy card I ever received.
After our daughter died I was so humbled by the support we received. I was insistent on replying quickly to emails and writing out a personal thank you note. It felt therapeutic for me to keep my mind busy. I never asked for help, but looking back I wish I had. If the return address wasn’t legible or present at all, I was left with guilt trying to figure out who the sender was to properly thank them. I would have liked to send thank you notes to those who attended our daughters funeral but few left complete addresses and and trying to track them down was mentally draining. Something that started out therapeutic quickly turned into an overwhelming task. I muddled through them and spent most of my time off addressing the notes. Then 18 months later our son died. Oh man, the day he died I had our family Christmas card all written to send out and my mailbox had been filled with others already. People were now bringing meals and I was frantic trying to keep up with who gave what, said what, did what, helped with what...I could cry just thinking of all the support and I am so thankful for it. That thankfulness drove me again to want to send a note and acknowledge everyone. But my goodness..,our hearts were in the thick of it all. Terribly sleep deprived, panicking as the pick up times for our sons preschool would come and go and I had no child to pick up and bring home. No child to feed lunch to, brush teeth...it got dark and he wasn’t there to put to sleep. We were still breathing but felt dead in every way. We were staying alive on coffee and creamer and not being able to stomach much else. It was so hard for me this time around to read the cards. Not only because this was round 2, but so close to Christmas there was a combination of sympathy and Christmas family cards that had been sent in the days prior to his death. There were gifts people left for our surviving son, so many good people that deserved a sincere thank you. People sharing their story and wisdom, I needed to tell them how much I appreciate them taking the time to pray for us. Because we needed the prayers and they did help. The card came. I don’t recall the colors or size. If it had fancy font, pop up designs or played music. We were about 5 days in to it all when the card came. It was late at night, my husband laid on the couch and I sat on the floor holding my baby in my arms and propping his bottle under my chin as I opened cards. What I do remember was there was a small handwritten note placed on the opposite side towards the bottom of the page and simply read, “this is a time for grieving, no need to send a thank you” I burst into tears and startled my baby awake. How did she know... What a beautiful soul. It was a pardon I needed so badly. Her simple words spoke so much truth. This WAS a time for Grieving, people that sent the other well meant cards and gifts didn’t envision me feeling anxiety through their kindness but in the end even the most sincere cards, still gave me that feeling. So my thoughts... Find a short verse or write a few words yourself. Acknowledge who died, “I’m sorry for the loss of your daughter Zaylee.” It is an amazing feeling to see your loved ones name in print, after they are gone and much more personal than saying, “I’m sorry for the loss of your daughter.” And for those who are in the thick of a loss now, reach out and ask for help with writing these cards and please remember, that this IS a time for grieving. Rachel Fitzgerald