New Way to be Human

Nov. 18 2004, my Mom was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer. I started this blog to chronicle her journey. July 19, 2005 she gave her life in the battle. This blog is my place to process through the journey I walked along with her, and now my journey through grief. It's also a place to discuss the effects cancer has on the lives it touches--survivors and caregivers alike. I'm a Navy wife, a Mom, and my mother's daughter now and forever.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sympathy Card Rant

Ok. So... Gotta do a little bit on the topic of 'grief' in general here. Well... really more of a card vent. Bear with me, or read another post if you're just not into it.

I've had to buy several sympathy cards lately, and of course we got scores of them when Mom died.

Now don't get me wrong, I really loved and appreciated every one that we got, mostly because I knew the people who were sending them, and their love and care, and thought was the comfort. I get that that's the point. Some of them even had nice sentiments.

But, in general, I HATE them. I mean seriously--have you gone to Hallmark and read any? They are terrible! Especially the "Christiany" ones. It's like here--you've just been dealt a devestating blow, now how about a sermon?

The ones I hate most are the ones that try to tell you how to feel, "They aren't gone, they are merely away." "We can't understand God's plan, but He always has one." Oh PUHLEASE!!!!

When I'm buying one, I usually end up trying to find the most generic one I can with the least amount of sermonizing and then write my own note. Occasionally I'll find one that just, "fits" and that is always a relief, but it truly is a rare occasion.

I just don't get it. Why is our society so afraid to talk about the fact that death happens? I mean, statistically it's a certainty for all of us, right? And, unless a larger number than I'm aware of are holed up as hermits, people who die generally leave a few people behind. So why are we so afraid of saying words that are real instead of sermonizing or glossing over the pain--or worst of all trying to tell people how to feel their feelings?

In general, I think we'd be a healthier society if we got more comfortable with the idea of loss. We're so inundated with gimmee, gimmees, but we experience some form of loss many, many times--loss of friends, loss of jobs, loss of hometowns, loss of paradigms. Why can't we be real about that?

I think I might start my own line of sympathy cards. They will have messages like, "Grief sucks. I'm here for you." Or, "Call me if you need another casserole (or if you want me to wisk you away for some real food since I know you have tons of them)." Or, "Hurt in whatever way works." Or, "There is no normal now. Be gentle with yourself."

They might not be flowery, but they seem more real to me than sanitized cardboard sermons.

--End Rant--


  • At 6:46 AM, Anonymous Karyn said…

    Good rant! I read the ones I got when Lenny died and think, after being thankful that people thought of me of course, "Are you kidding me?". So ya, I'm with you!
    All I ever needed was someone to say "I don't know what to say". Sorry for your loss was ok too, but to think there will come a day when I "will look back with gratitude for my loved one's time" or whatever they write is just crazy! There will never come a time when I will be ok with what happened. I will live with it since I have no choice, but I won't "rejoice again" at his life when all I want is for his death to never have happened.
    Wow, didn't see that coming! Thanks for writing what those of us who have lost someone think. And of course we all appreciate what those who are sending the cards are trying to do, so I'm sorry if I sound ungreatful.
    *end my own rant*

  • At 4:39 PM, Blogger ALP said…

    Well I would buy your cards!

  • At 3:43 PM, Blogger Lynne said…

    I love the ideas you have for sympathy cards...I think you should actually create them.

    (found you from my site meter, thanks for stopping by, I'll be back to read your blog)

  • At 8:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I understand and agree with the weird and uneasy things that "sympathy" cards can say.

    My mom passed away 4 years ago in a car accident when I was 16. I got a few sympathy cards and a few "sorry's" at school. The best thing that anyone had said/done for me was when my acting teacher gave me a teddy bear (which I slept with for a good couple years afterwards) and said that if I needed ANYTHING... whether an ear or shoes (she DID mention shoes, I thought this was kind of funny) she'd be there for me. That teddy bear meant the world for me and her words will always be in my heart.

    I think your idea of cards is wonderful! I think there needs to be a little comic relief to break the tension, and then you can carry on with "if you need me" or "my thoughts/prayers/etc are with you" on your own. I didn't know how to respond to "I'm so sorry!" What are you sorry for? You didn't do anything. What do I say? "Thank you"? It was so awkward for me. All I could do was nod and mutter a "thanks".

    Before I get off topic, thanks for posting!!!


  • At 4:52 PM, Blogger Robyn P. Thayer said…

    Hello, a grieving friend sent me to your site. Last year I designed a Grief Sucks card and for obvious reasons it is wildly popular! Take a peek if you wish:

    All the best to you.


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