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This is about relationships. A good friend’s last remaining parent died and I’ve been trying to be as helpful as I can. Do I still need to write her a personal note? Or would that be just another note she’d have to acknowledge? Should I send her a condolence card or do I have to write a letter? She asked me if she needs to write to 150 people who ‘Liked’ the photo of her parent that she posted on Facebook to announce the parent’s death or can she just ‘Reply’ with a quick ‘Thank You’? If she thanked friends in person for their flowers at the funeral, does she still have to send a sympathy acknowledgement?
- The gratitude letter that your friend would be writing in return is positive psychology. It is written as a specific expression of thanks to a person who has been especially thoughtful, kind or important to her. Apparently, 99% of the time the gratitude letter works. And why wouldn't it?
- is personal and is personalized (when you send a tweet, email, text, or FB message, you should still follow up with a handwritten note or card when you know the person well.)
- represents the writer's undivided attention (unlike an email or phone call while multi-tasking at work.)
- is a thoughtful gesture appreciated for its effort, time spent writing it and finding a stamp. People remember who wrote a heartfelt letter and who sent a text.
- for a gift of any kind or any occasion acknowledgement is appreciated. It sustains the relationship. If I spend half a day making a meatloaf and cherry pie to bring you while you're recuperating from a knee replacement, I am grateful to receive a handwritten message of appreciation.
- is appreciated when someone goes out of their way (again, spending time on you) to introduce you to someone who becomes your boss, mentor, investor, or business partner; or pulls strings for you.
- can be sent anytime, the sooner the better, however, there are no rules or time constraints.
- should never include unhelpful phrases (see below).
- is NOT about being profound.
- is all about acknowledging a death and expressing genuine sympathy.
- is not the place to compare losses (saying you've experienced the same loss could annoy the person).
- It's for the best.
- I/we know how you feel. (You don't know how they feel, no matter how well you think you know the person.)
- He lived a full life.
- My mother had ______, too.
- How are you? Obviously, they're hurting
- It was the right time -- because she may have been let go.
- Don't promise to help, if you're not sure you will.
- Don't go on too long, because brevity is key.
- Don't go into the drastic circumstances of the deceased.
- Don't say anything even vaguely religious, unless it is appropriate.Don't sign off with just Sincerely, which sounds cold.
- With sympathy,
- Please accept our condolences,
- Our sincere sympathy,
- With caring thoughts,
- With deepest sympathy,
- Warmest condolences,
- With deepest sympathy for your loss,
- With love,
- With loving memories,
- Thinking of you,
- Our thoughts are of you, our hearts are with you,
- Stella will never be forgotten,
- Toby will live on in our hearts,
- Louis will remain in our hearts,
- We will never forget Elaine,
Much appreciation to the Printery, Oyster Bay, New York,
for the use of all of the exquisite samples above.