Author Topic: How to write a letter of condolence on the anniversary of a death?  (Read 12698 times)

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Knitterly

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The thread title sums up what I need to know.

Here are the details.
We are coming up on the anniversary of the death of a dear friend.  As our parents were friends before either of us were born, I knew this person his whole life.  We may not have been super close friends, but his death was like losing a cousin.  It was absolutely unexpected and devastating to friends and family. 
At the age of 30-*ahem*, I still refer to this friend's mother as Aunt X.  She has invited me to call her by her first name, but I can't bring myself to do it.  She will always be Aunt X, and my friend's father will always be Uncle Y.

So with the anniversary of the death coming up, I need to do something.  I thought about sending flowers, but wondered if their house might be inundated with them.  I found an old polaroid picture that I took 22 years ago of their son.  It has his name and the year written on it in my childish handwriting. 

Thoughts on how to compose a note would be greatly appreciated - especially advice from those who have lost a close family member (sibling or child).

rosiegirl

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Re: How to write a letter of condolence on the anniversary of a death?
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2012, 11:07:29 AM »
I think you should send a card or letter letting her know you were thinking of her.  Then you could share how you found the picture of son and that reminded you of x story about her hubby or x time that y happened.  Share something with her that lets her know that she isn't alone in missing him and that you remember him fondly. If she is close by, maybe offer to take her to lunch so she knows that she is still important to you too.

heartmug

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Re: How to write a letter of condolence on the anniversary of a death?
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2012, 12:13:22 PM »
I think you should send a card or letter letting her know you were thinking of her.  Then you could share how you found the picture of son and that reminded you of x story about her hubby or x time that y happened.  Share something with her that lets her know that she isn't alone in missing him and that you remember him fondly.

I think that is a great idea.  When my dad died, I so appreciated the people who remembered the anniversary of his death and sent a note.
The trouble is not that the world is full of fools, it's just that lightening isn't distributed right.  - Mark Twain

hobish

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Re: How to write a letter of condolence on the anniversary of a death?
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2012, 12:25:38 PM »

Podding rosiegirl's idea is a good one.

This is a great topic. I wanted to do something similar last month for the anniversary of a friend's death. In the end i was paralyzed with indecision and doubt and ended up doing nothing  :-[ I should have asked EHell; i don't know why i didn't.

It's alright, man. I'm only bleeding, man. Stay hungry, stay free, and do the best you can.
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Bijou

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Re: How to write a letter of condolence on the anniversary of a death?
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2012, 12:33:03 PM »
You could made a donation in his name to a favored organization or charity with a card sent to the family. 
I've never knitted anything I could recognize when it was finished.  Actually, I've never finished anything, much to my family's relief.

TurtleDove

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Re: How to write a letter of condolence on the anniversary of a death?
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2012, 12:42:02 PM »
I think you should send a card or letter letting her know you were thinking of her.  Then you could share how you found the picture of son and that reminded you of x story about her hubby or x time that y happened.  Share something with her that lets her know that she isn't alone in missing him and that you remember him fondly. If she is close by, maybe offer to take her to lunch so she knows that she is still important to you too.

Great advice.  It is very easy to say the wrong thing and impossible to say anything that will help, so simply letting them know you are thinking of them is appropriate.

jpcher

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Re: How to write a letter of condolence on the anniversary of a death?
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2012, 01:39:54 PM »
I think rosiegirl is spot on.

Taking your friends parents to lunch or somesuch would be a very nice thing to do, but don't plan for it on the anniversary. Maybe, in your card, include your phone number and ask them that they call with a suggestion of getting together for a bit.

The photo is so touching. It sounds like it's important to you. If you were thinking of sending it to them, make sure that you scan it and either send them the scan or the original.


The first anniversary is the hardest. You don't have to do a lot, just letting them know that you are thinking of them is the right/important thing to do.



I don't think that flowers would be out of line at all.

Knitterly

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Re: How to write a letter of condolence on the anniversary of a death?
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2012, 02:10:37 PM »
Lunch may sound nice, but is simply too far to be feasible.  Aunt X and Uncle Y will want to spend most of the time surrounding this period with their surviving children, anyway. 

I had already decided on a note.  I am really looking for help with the wording.  So far, I have "Dear Aunt X and Uncle Y."  That's it.  Then I get stuck.  I just don't know what to say.   :(

TurtleDove

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Re: How to write a letter of condolence on the anniversary of a death?
« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2012, 02:16:09 PM »
Dear Aunt X and Uncle Y:  I just wanted to let you know [late son] and you are in my thoughts.  I recently found this photo I took of him and it made me smile - I hope it makes you smile too!  I hope to see you [insert feasible next time you will see them].  Love, Knitterly

Mikayla

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Re: How to write a letter of condolence on the anniversary of a death?
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2012, 02:46:31 PM »
These are always so hard to write.  What about something like:

Dear Aunt Mary and Uncle John:  You're both in my thoughts at this time, and of course, so is Cousin.  I wanted to share this photo with you that I found.  I don't know if you remember, but we were (insert short backstory summation - this can even be humorous).

When I think about how much I miss him in my life, I can't imagine how hard this is for you.  Please know that you're in my thoughts (and prayers, if appropriate).

Sincerely (or Love) Knitterly

Minmom3

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Re: How to write a letter of condolence on the anniversary of a death?
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2012, 03:05:40 PM »
"Thinking of you and missing him"
Mother to children and fuzz butts....

TurtleDove

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Re: How to write a letter of condolence on the anniversary of a death?
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2012, 03:10:37 PM »
I just wanted to add - my personal preference for receiving cards like this is a simple "thinking of you." It is SO EASY to say the wrong thing. Comparing grief or bringing up memories, for example, enraged me when I was deeply grieving, even though I knew people had good intentions. I very strongly prefer simplicity.

Margo

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Re: How to write a letter of condolence on the anniversary of a death?
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2012, 08:58:54 AM »
I agree that something short is probably best.

I like Mikalyla's suggested wording except that I would miss out the story. It's easy for tone to be misread in written correspondence. As others have said, it's easy to say the wrong thing, and telling a story about the photo might (to someone who is still raw and hugely sensitive) inadvertently come across as either an attempt to 'cheer them up' or seem as if you're saying you have knowledge / memories of their son which they don't share, so you have to explain the context of the picture to them.... That clearly isn't your intent, but they might see it that way and feel hurt.

Knitterly

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Re: How to write a letter of condolence on the anniversary of a death?
« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2012, 10:50:14 AM »
You know, after reading everyone's input, I am thinking of sending just a nice simple bouquet of flowers with a note that reads "Dear Uncle Y and Aunt X, As you face this difficult time of remembrance, please know that you are not alone.  We love you and remember YourSon year-round, but especially today and now.  You are always in our thoughts and prayers.  Much love, Mr Knitterly and Knitterly." 

jpcher

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Re: How to write a letter of condolence on the anniversary of a death?
« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2012, 01:21:07 PM »
You know, after reading everyone's input, I am thinking of sending just a nice simple bouquet of flowers with a note that reads "Dear Uncle Y and Aunt X, As you face this difficult time of remembrance, please know that you are not alone.  We love you and remember YourSon year-round, but especially today and now.  You are always in our thoughts and prayers.  Much love, Mr Knitterly and Knitterly."

I think this is perfect.