Sunday, July 25, 2010

In Sympathy...

When someone passes away, if you’re anything like me, you feed badly and usually express your condolences in person when you see the family member or loved one. Sometimes you don’t know what to do or if they want to be alone or not and so just expressing your sadness at their loss in person seems to be the way to go.

I didn’t realize until I was an adult that sometimes doing something more matters infinitely to the person going through the loss. It doesn’t take much time, and it doesn’t cost much. That thing is to send a sympathy card.

I had no idea how much these cards would mean until I went through the loss of my grandfather the summer of 2009. I didn’t expect any cards – after all, it wasn’t my mother, father, or sibling who passed on – it was a grandparent. And yet a very dear one to me at that. I took his death bravely but with deep sorrow.

I received a sympathy card in the mail. And then a couple more and found that those few words that someone took the time to write out and send to me, meant everything to me. It was if someone was validating my tears, my sadness, and my pain. It was if someone was saying to me – “I understand, I care, and I’m praying for you.” I had no idea a card could do so much for me during such a difficult time.

It wasn’t the words these precious people said that meant the most to me – it was the effort. It was as if when I opened that envelope and saw the words “In sympathy of your loss….” That it was if someone was hugging me and telling me that it was okay to cry. When everyone else was going on with their daily lives, it was if someone was pausing for a minute to let me know that they loved me and understood that – for a moment – it was okay for me to have a hard time doing the “dailyness” of mine.

I get it now. I didn’t get it before. Most of my losses of loved ones happened as a child or a young adult so I didn’t see or really benefit from a sympathy card. It wasn’t until I was an adult that it struck my heart with the deep connection and outpouring of concern and kindness.

I think anyone who has gone through a loss will also understand. The phone calls and visits – yes, they are important too. Bringing of meals is invaluable to a family who is dealing with the emotional turbulence of a loss. But if you don’t feel you can do those things – or even that they aren’t simply enough…. Send a sympathy card. I guarantee you that the effort alone, means the world.

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