A Trick for Beginning a Sympathy Card
I've had to write some pretty serious support cards recently.
They are never easy to write, but I believe strongly in showing up for people when they need inner strength, and I believe that letters are sometimes the only way to do it. The person can hold the letter to their chest anytime day or night, that they might need comfort. It's so important to show up in this tangible way.
It could literally be the difference between life and death. One study found that people who had received a letter within the year following a hospitalization for suicide ideation were less likely to commit suicide. Knowing that fact makes me realize the how desperately bad the world needs us to show up for the people in our lives who are having a rough time. You probably are already thinking of a few people. When I read this study, I immediately wrote a a few people. My soul felt amazingly light after doing so. I hadn't realized how much they were weighing on my mind, and how much I needed to acknowledge them with a letter.
But sometimes it's hard to know where to even start with the letter.
The hack that I found for myself using while writing those cards was: I would start the letter with: “I don't know what to say but…” And that but gets me to put words on the page. It is enough to get me to start moving my pen, and brave enough to commit to writing words, even though I'm not sure if they are the “exact right” words to say.
(When in doubt, fall back on your favorite quality about the person you are writing to, and share a memory of a good time you had with that person.)
Next time you need to write a letter to someone who is experiencing loss or grief try this trick. Let me know how it goes.
Thanks for showing up. You are making the world a better place. :)