July 9, 2008


Sadly, I had to write a letter of condolence to an old family friend whose daughter suddenly died over the weekend. Very interesting people whose grand- and great-grandfather was a president of the US.

I realized that most of the stationery that I have is fun and cheery and that none of it would do for a letter of this type. I feel like I know the family too well to just go purchase a sympathy card, so I went to the stationery store to see what they had.

The store, which is close to my office, has a good selection of Crane papers, including the fun Kate Spade papers. I have the KS agenda inserts, and in fact, got my boss to get their week on two pages calendar inserts a few weeks ago!

I've been thinking about having stationery made with my family's crest on it, and I recently found the die that we used for one of my sisters' wedding. But since I couldn't wait, I picked out a black and white pattern with envelopes lined in black. Not overwhelmingly sad, but somewhat serious.
When I read Crane's sympathy sentiments, I found that what I'd written was exactly what they suggested.Last year when my father died, the handwritten notes from friends meant so much to me. Even though it's hard, do the right thing and send a handwritten note. It's the least you can do.


  1. Yes...handwritten notes are much more meaningful. I lost my husband unexpectantly 2 yrs ago and of all the cards, it was the short memories or condolences written (some awkward but so dear) that meant so much. Do not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. I learned a valuable lesson and write many many notes to friends, family and acquaintances on gorgeous stationary now. It has become one of my greatest pleasures. Ginny (great post, thank you)

  2. Meg, I'm so sorry for your friends' loss. Sympathy notes are among the most awkward, for me at least, especially when I didn't know the deceased very well.

    I can think of more to share in the note when I knew the person better.

    I think you will have us all brushing up on the guidelines.

  3. I agree with you 100% - a note of condolence, after someone very important to you has died, is so heart-warming to receive, especially because the emptiness is starting to set in and the crowd that was around you has dispersed. It means a lot to know that someone took the time to write a note and to tell you a little something that was special about the person you lost.

  4. Ginny... thanks for sharing your story. At a time like this, it's not about you and your comfort zone, it's about the person who has had the death and making them feel better.

  5. There is nothing that can really be as specially as a hand written note or letter. I think it's the thought and the time it took to write and send it that means so much!

    I'm sorry to hear about your loss!

  6. I think we are on the verge of loosing the art of letter writing! Today in the age of email, this makes a hand-written letter so much more important today to show we care. I never know what to say in a sympathy card though and always google 'sympathy card' to come up with things to say, I'm ashamed to admit!

  7. Ah yes, you are so right about expressing your love and care for those who have suffered a loss. And when needed, the Crane and other books on writing letters, is often helpful.

    On a side note, thanks for stopping by my blog. You have a great one here, and I'll be back.

  8. I'm sorry for your loss and hope that your friends are getting on as best they can.

    You absolutely did the right thing. A timely, heartfelt, handwritten note, regardless of how brief it may be, goes a long way in any situation-- even more so after a death. Good for you holding up the side.

  9. So sorry to hear about your friend's loss. It's always lovely to receive handwritten notes for any occasion, but especially on sad occasions, where thoughtfulness and the feeling of support can do much for those who are grieving.

  10. Meg - Mr. B always struggles with this. "I don't know what to say." I always tell him to just say that - as long as you stay away from anything insensitive, it's best to say something. I did not note those who did not write, but remember clearly everyone who did after my mother died.

    I am a habitual obituary reader. It's not morbid, it's realistic. And, I usually have on hand light grey note cards just in case. The black and white are elegant as well. The family crest cards are a must.

  11. Hi Meg...I am so sorry. I agree with everyone here. The handwritten note goes a long way in saying that you cared enough to take the time, and thought enough about how to present your sentiments. Very nice thing to post.

  12. Thank you for visiting my blog. I am so sorry to hear about such a loss. Incomprehensible to lose a daughter. I know from experience that when my father died the notes were cherished. It is such a thoughtful and appreciated gesture.

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