Grief Etiquette Thank You Notes or Not?
Grief etiquette tips. I was raised to write thank you notes, no matter the occasion, the gift received and the kind deed done. But when my son died I could not write a thank you note. I was in such a daze after the death of my son I couldn’t even remember who was there at the service who brought what let alone what day it was. I could barely function, let alone write any semblance of a thank you note.
There is no right or wrong answer, the truth is the grief is yours and only you know how you feel and what your capabilities are.
You may even wonder why I am even raising the issue but as I have helped people as they grieve the loss of their loved ones and some have asked grief etiquette question “Should I send thank you notes” or “what will people think if I don’t write” and my answer is always the same. This is your grief , it is your time and you need to do whatever you need to do for yourself first. If you find comfort in writing notes in your time of grief then do it when you are ready, and if you don’t want to that is perfectly fine too. This is not a time for etiquette, this is your grief and about caring for yourself. Most people understand and if they don’t then that is their issue not yours. If you are torn and want a simple solution you can do what I did.
Etiquette as you Grieve
I did not want to write thank you notes as I was not capable not did I want to read through the cards and recall the words, it was all too painful, but I did want to thank people for their kindness and support. Instead of writing a pile of thank you cards in my time of deep grief I decided to forgo my usual etiquette and wrote a simple note to be placed in the local newspaper for all to be acknowledged and to share my gratitude.
This was perfect as I did not even have to pick up the phone, I found the time to write my words and email my thank you. If you aren’t ready or up to the task then you can enlist a friend or relative to do this for you. This is all I could do at the time and you need allow yourself to let go of etiquette. You are grieving and the people who matter most will understand you are in grief. They will know that you in deep in your heart are thankful. So go easy on yourself do what you need to do to heal.
More Writing Grief Etiquette Tips as You Grieve
After we move past wondering if we should send cards and notes after loss comes the questions of should I send cards at Christmas, birthdays and other occasions. Again my answer is the same, it is your choice. Suddenly a simple task can be so difficult, I couldn’t even walk down a card isle. I tried but as I passed the cards I saw the birthday cards for son, special occasion cards and is was as if they leaped off the shelf to remind me of what I would never have. I would break down thinking of the how I would never buy him a birthday card, have a birthday party for him, buy a special I love you card, Christmas card and I would leave in a crumpled mess reminded of all of the things that would never be. Yes, a simple task such as going to a card shop would have so many emotions and triggers.
Even if I had bought a card I didn’t know who to sign it, now with one of us gone, I could not find the words.
Grief Etiquette Questions
I have been asked many questions about grief and etiquette, so many people worry so much more about what other think and doing the right thing in their time of grief. Some of the reasons is because the mind focuses on what you have always done, part is the grief itself, it causing confusion and doubt and everything gets all wrapped up in our beliefs and how we should do things. Grief causes us to ask a million and one questions you may never have thought of as what came naturally now comes with questions and doubt.
Some of the grief and etiquette questions regarding writing cards are:
Will people think I am rude if I don’t send a card
“I don’t want to write but I feel like I should, what should I do”
“Do I sign a card from the whole family and include my lost loved ones name”
“How to I write a card and sign it”
“Do I sign the card generically with the family surname”
What id I sign “Love All”
These are not simple trite questions they are deep and carry a lot of weight when you are grieving. How do I find the words that were once so easy that are now so difficult to write?
Why Write About Grief and Etiquette
If anyone who has not suffered grief may wonder why I am writing about grief etiquette and card writing, but it is a question many of us think about. So this is your choice and only you can make it. You may never write another card again, you may find comfort in writing as it may bring back memories you so love or you may give it a break and in time you may just pick up a card and find yourself writing in it.
This is your journey, not one you chose but one you have to cope with as you grieve. For those who have not lost this is such a simple task and if they read this grief article they may even wonder why this is such a big deal. But what was once something so simple now becomes another difficult task to overcome as we try to find our new way of being.
Grief and loss changes us in ways we could never imagine, and those around us can’t understand and we don’t want them to. Because if they truly did it meant that would have to suffer the loss as we, a pain we do not wish on anybody. Never in our worst nightmares did we ever think something as simple as writing a card could be such a painful task? But it can be, so if you haven’t given yourself permission to let go of anything that make you hurt more, then would like to give you that permission, because you need to know it is your choice.
This is your life, your personal experience and your loss, there is no right or wrong, there just is….
Be kind to yourself, take small steps and recover the parts that you can when you can,
From the heart,