Sympathy cards are difficult to compose. You hope to express meaningful love and support without saying something careless or imposing your own feelings about loss, death or your religious beliefs. Because I sell Petal People sympathy cards as well as plantable sympathy cards, my customers often ask me to add a note and send it directly to the recipient. I have seen many of those messages, both awkward ones but also touching messages that made me cry.
Many people write about how sorry they are for the loss but to remember the happy memories. When I suffered a loss and was the recipient of sympathy cards, I have to admit feeling a little upset by some of them. They were sent with love but their message was unintentionally telling me to get to the good stuff. It discounted grief. So I appreciated the ones that gave me permission to grieve. The best cards recounted a story or memory about my deceased family member, giving me a new memory or perspective when no more could be created. Perhaps the very best card I got actually outlined a grief to-do list! Among the ideas my friend wrote were these:
* Don't forget to tell your loved ones often how much you love them and how appreciative you are of their support.
* If you don't already have one, get a pet. The power of healing in having an animal to hug should NOT be underestimated!
* Find some really good spiritual books and read when you can. A couple of my favorites are "Rebel Buddha", "The Most Direct Means to Eternal Bliss", and "I am That."
* Spend some time outside in the sunlight taking walks in nature every day.
* Don't expect to be able to control when you'll need to cry. Always carry kleenex in all your pockets at all times. Don't leave home without some. A pair of dark sun glasses is handy, too. (This one turned out to be the best piece of advice!)
* Find something/someone that can make you laugh every day. My favorite comedian is Eddie Izzard. "Glorious" is the best of his shows. Russell Petters' "Red, White, and Brown" is pretty hilarious too. Ask everybody for comedy recommendations.
* Do a lot of journaling. When everyone else around you feels saturated by your sadness, your journal will invite you to fill a clean page, and another, and another.
* Remember what you love to do and what brings you joy, and try to do those things as often as you can. Don't worry if they don't instantly make you feel better. You're just looking for ways to plug into a positive body memory to help give your mind a rest.
* You've entered a dimension where "normal" doesn't exist so sleep when you can sleep, and if you can't sleep then get up and don't fret about it. Same with eating and all other so-called daily routines.
I can't tell you how your recipient will feel about what you say or the perfect thing that everyone will find comforting. But here's what one customer wrote in a note to their friend about the loss of a dog. I thought it was utterly sweet:
For the king of all pillows, the catcher of all balls, and the littlest of spoons. May [dog's name] forever know how deeply loved he was by you.