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November 29, 2008 / Maleesha Kovnesky

Sympathy Cards

I shopped for a sympathy card yesterday.  Black Friday, indeed.  I don’t remember the last time I had to do it, and I don’t really remember if I ever actually bought a sympathy card.  I have received sympathy cards before, and I remember feeling a little icky about it.  But I had to shop for a sympathy card yesterday.  And let me tell you, it was challenging.

1.  Sympathy cards are downright awful.  First of all, when you are sending one, you know that it’s to someone who is feeling indescribably awful.  Tragically awful.  A card seems trite.  Yet not sending one is somehow worse.

2.  Purchasing a pre-printed card feels especially wrong.  The sympathy card section was actually quite large, but somehow nothing seemed like a good choice.  Some were imprinted with words like “soothing, calming, thinking of you” in ocean-colored letters.  Soothing?  Maybe it sounded like a good idea to the Hallmark card-pickers at the time, but soothing?  Nothing about the chunk of paper was the least bit soothing, from the gold-foil words to the bar code on the back.

3.  Most of them said “Sorry for the loss of your loved one.”  Loved one?  LOVED ONE?  How unacceptable.  I can see maybe purchasing this for a coworker when you aren’t certain whether or not it was a pet or a uncle that had passed away.  But in this case loved one is not nearly strong enough. 

4.  One said some crap about “May the memories of who he/she (there were two identical cards in gender specific choices) was carry you though.  I didn’t like the word WAS.  I guess it’s the correct word, but again it seems terrible.

5.  There is always the option to make a card, but there is no way I could make a card for this occasion.  It’s not very craft-inspiring.  I guess it’s hard to complain about the selection when you don’t want to make one yourself.  But I just can’t.

I finally settled on a pea-green card with the word “peace” embroidered on it.  It didn’t say anything about a generic loved one, and it didn’t try to offer pathetic advice.  Still, in the grand scheme of things, I know it’s just a piece of paper with words that won’t matter at this moment. 

If only we could send a way to ease the pain instead of a sympathy card.



Leave a Comment
  1. curlywurlygurly / Dec 3 2008 9:34 pm

    i also hate the sympathy card selection. i usually opt for a blank one and then struggle for 10 hours trying to figure out what to write. usually i go with ‘our thoughts are with you’ and that type of stuff. it’s just plain hard to do it…but the idea of NOT sending a card is worse.

  2. fawnahareo / Nov 29 2008 8:31 pm

    I would probably buy a card with no words on it, myself. Don’t be so sure that the words won’t matter. Maybe the *exact* words won’t matter, but the fact that you took the time to write them will.

  3. teeni / Nov 29 2008 8:27 am

    I’ve often thought some sympathy cards are just awful. I’m sure if you know the person well enough you can find other ways to help ease the pain of their loss, but most people don’t know what to say or do so they are stuck trying to pick out a pre-printed sentiment.

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