Index of Thoughts

Friday, June 6, 2014

Writing a Sympathy Letter

Our community has had a great deal of loss the last few years. It saddens me to wake up to another one this morning. I wanted to take a little time to offer to anyone out there some information and guidance during this awful heartache.

 A post I wrote about grief and loss.

I also wanted to share a couple of links that I thought were very good about writing a Sympathy Letter.  Here.  Here. and Here.

Writing a letter is becoming a lost art and is such a wonderful way to share your heart.  It can be reread in the privacy of the recipient's home.  It can say what you really want to say when talking can sometimes get us into trouble.  Communicating with a friend in a letter is more effective than using the computer.

"We write condolence letters as a gesture of consideration, but also in order to figure out just what it is we have lost.

A good condolence letter requires balance, demanding an “I” capable of turning its attention away from itself, and toward a missing other. It is about what death requires of all of us who are left behind, and often finds us incapable of providing: compassion. A condolence letter is an act of self-erasure.

It is also an acknowledgment of failure. We provide comfort, but never enough; we pay tribute, but never fulsomely enough; we remember, but not deeply enough. We fail. We can only offer condolences, because we are unsure if they will be taken. All we can do is make the attempt."

- Saul Austerlitz

photo source

Main points in writing a Condolence Letter:

  • Write from your heart.  "get comfortable with being uncomfortable" - Kathleen Buckstaff
  • Write about wonderful memories of the person who has passed.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Avoid cliche statements like "they are in a better place now", "time heals", "God's plan".
  • Share how sad you feel for their loss.
  • Don't compare with your losses.
  • Offer your help with something specific and follow through.
  • Meditate and pray for them.  It does reach them.
  • Read it out loud to make sure it sounds genuine. 
  • Write on nice stationary or pick a card that fits the recipient (if they aren't religious, a very religious card might not be a good one even if it is the one you like best.)
  • Handwritten is best.
  • Also send an anniversary card.

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