S4E5: How to Write a Condolence Note

There was a time when all the answers regarding the ‘right’ way to do things could be found in one book, and the authoritative author was Emily Post. This week we went to that authority to find out how to write a note of condolence. Spoiler Alert, it does not involve email or texting.

Two hardcopy books of Emily Post's Etiquette
Marianne’s own copies of Etiquette, the bible of everything proper, including how to write condolences

“The nice thing to do is the right thing to do”

Emily Post (From About Emily Post)

Choosing the right words to write to a friend or family member who is grieving is an important, but very difficult skill. By carefully selecting and sharing words of comfort, your note can be one of healing and encouragement for the bereaved. The chosen words can make a positive difference in the life of the one grieving and reassure the griever that you care for the relationship.

The words we choose to use to someone who is grieving the death of a loved one can be a delicate task. Not writing a condolence note or the use of insensitive words may be remembered for years.

Emily Post’s Etiquette was published in 1922 and the 100th anniversary edition was released last year. Listen to learn some of Emily’s timeless advice. Charlie follows up with five tips that will assist in choosing the words to write.

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How do you recover after the “light went out” of your life?

Theodore Roosevelt on a horse, circa 1885
Theodore Roosevelt travelled west and immersed himself in the physical activity of ranching alongside the cowboys at the ranch he purchased and ran for a brief time after his wife and mother died on the same day. (circa 1885. Library of Congress.)

A heartbreaking, but instructive, story about dealing with grief comes from the early life of the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt. If you’re unfamiliar with the moment “the light went out” of his life; it happened on February 14th, 1884; the day both his young wife, Alice, and his 48-year old mother died – in the same house (leaving behind a newborn girl, now without a mother or maternal grandmother). Teddy was absolutely devastated. After the double funeral, he packed his bags and moved to the Dakota Territory. There he cleansed himself of his unbearable sorrow – here’s the lesson in his sad story – by immersing himself in activity: learning to ride Western style, rope steer, and hunt bison.  Months later, he returned to his ‘real life’ a changed man–and became one of our nation’s greatest leaders. Now, you may not have such lofty aspirations – still, following in Teddy’s footsteps might be the best move for you right now.

We have often talked on this show about the value of exercise, and Roosevelt’s story show the value of the getting physical! We know exercise is good for us, but most of us don’t get enough of it – even when things are going well. When we’re during grieving, getting regular exercise can feel like way too much work. But you need to know regular exercise can be of enormous benefit to you in your grief.

It not only boosts physical health, but also improves mental health. Exercising regularly (even taking a walk for just 20 minutes several times a week) can help you cope with stress. Listen to learn more tips.

Get this recipe from The Seasoned Mom

Recipe of the Week

This week we bring you the Hummingbird Cake, a banana-pineapple spice cake originating in Jamaica and a popular dessert in the southern United States since the 1970s. The ingredients include flour, sugar, salt, vegetable oil, ripe banana, pineapple, cinnamon, pecans, vanilla extract, eggs.  It is served with cream cheese frosting and is rich and yummy. Bake it in a sheet pan and enjoy a tropical teaser at your next funeral lunch. Get this recipe from Seasoned Mom.

From Everyone Dies:

Everyone Dies: and yes, it is normal!

Everyone Dies (and yes, it is normal) is a story about a young boy named Jax who finds something special on the beach where he and his grandpa Pops are enjoying a wonderful day. Pops helps Jax understand that death is a normal part of life. This book provides an age appropriate, non-scary, comfortable way to introduce the important topic of mortality to a preschool child. Its simple explanation will last a lifetime. Autographed copies for sale at: www.everyonediesthebook.com. Also available at Amazon

Mourning Jewelry
mourning jewelry earings

We offer a way to memorialize your loved one or treasured pet with a piece of handmade jewelry.  When people comment on it and the wearer can say for example “I received this when my mother died” which opens the conversation about this loss. All our jewelry is made with semi-precious stones and beads, vintage beads, and pearls. You can choose between earrings or bracelets and the color family. Learn More

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