A Word About Sympathy Cards


Syrupy-sweet sympathy cards with preprinted verses offend some grievers because the cards insult the bereaved rather than offer messages of comfort for the intense feelings of sadness. I must admit, the Helen Steiner Rice poetry gets on my nerves. When it comes to grief, I'm just not that evolved.

Looking back, I understand that people were trying to be supportive, and I am grateful for the attempts at kind remembrances of my mother. In the midst of new sorrow, however, it is hard to take the long view. At least it was for me.

When Mom died, I wanted to throw some of the saccharine cards against the wall. I would read one of the "uplifting" poems and think: I know I am supposed to be happy that Mom is in heaven now, but I am sad because she died. Doesn't anyone recognize my grief? I didn't like drippy cards telling me to rejoice because Mom was with God. I wanted her here with me.

You will search in vain for Hallmark sympathy cards that use the words death or died, yet that is exactly what had happened: the person who had shaped my life was now dead. Didn't anyone understand that? I most appreciated simple cards that acknowledged the pain of my loss.

My own experience with grief has made me more sensitive to the pain of others. I now give sympathy cards that carry brief messages of comfort without poetry. I also include a personal handwritten note
 and my own favorite verse or quote. I share a loving memory of the deceased if I knew the person well enough to have one. Do what feels right to you. You'll be on solid ground as long as your sentiments come from the heart.



Go to next page: Communication from the Heart

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How complicated and individual mending is,
the time required for healing
cannot be measured against any fixed calendar
Mary Jane Moffat
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