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Acknowledging a Bereavement - Carers UK Forum

Acknowledging a Bereavement

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A former work colleague of mine passed away last week - at one time he and his wife were good friends of mine. I've just sat and composed a letter to his wife that I've put inside a condolences card. It got me thinking about another friend of mine (also a former work colleague) who died last year, again we were friends, I went to his wedding and he and his wife had been here for a meal, and we'd met up socially. He was only in his early 40's, and again I wrote a letter to his wife, but I never heard a word back from her. I sometimes wonder if she ever actually received it, but I doubt that to be the case.

Sometimes a card is all you need to send, but there are other times when I feel that just sending a card is cutting & running. I know we all have trouble in knowing what to say at these times, but sometimes there is stuff you can say that may hopefully bring some comfort to the bereaved - difficult, but worth the effort, I think. I know when my Mum passed away, we got some lovely letters, some of them telling us of little memories of my Mum. It was really nice to receive them. Even though I felt my world had fallen apart, my Dad and my kids and I sat and composed some acknowledgement cards, I went and bought some posh card paper and envelopes, printed them out, guillotined them all (over 150) and either my Dad or I wrote something a bit personal when we signed them - we also hand wrote the names in.

Am I old fashioned in thinking that you should acknowledge cards/letters of sympathy you have received? I was always brought up to believe that this was the way to do things, but perhaps not? My Grandad once told me that the greatest respect you can show another person is to turn up for their funeral and be genuine in your sympathies to the bereaved. Perhaps this too is old fashioned thinking. Image

I'm really interested to hear what other people think - if we have written a letter or sent a card to the bereaved, should we expect to get some sort of acknowledgement?
Hi ladybird, I have often sent cards/letters as condolences, but I dont get replies and TBH I dont expect them. Yes, as a general rule it is polite to reply to letters, but when someone you love has died it is hard enough to get through the day without extra stuff to do. Also, when my dad died I got cards and letters, but could not bear to look at them until some time later. I anticipate that my card/letter will be stashed away until such a time that the recipient can go through them and read them and will then bring some comfort.
I wrote or rang everyone who had sent cards and every single person who'd come to funeral and all over again when I took Mark down to Essex. It's politeness, to thank people who have taken the time and trouble, time off work, travelling etc to support you and show their respects.
I just send a sympathy card with a few words inside if I don't know the people well or a letter and card if I know them better. However, I never get replies and don't expect them. I think that the bereaved family has quite enough to deal with without also worrying about replying to all those who have expressed their sympathy. If they want to reply, and find that it helps them, then that's fine, but I don't feel that it should be expected.
when my son died,my family had cards and letters from people we had never even met. There were so many we could never have responded to them all. We put a message in our local paper and that was as much as we could do. I felt guilty about it,but he was 21 years old,his death was sudden,it was as much as I could do to breathe properly.
It was probably two years later by the time I was able to actually absorb some of the words in the cards,when I was able to look at them again.People had found the most beautiful cards and each of them has meant a lot to my family.One of the cards from someone who had not met my son went straight to my heart, it was a copy of one of Monet's paintings and my son's favourite artist was Claude Monet.
I will NEVER forget the kindness and care of so many people.I now pay it forward. If I know of anyone local who has lost a child(whatever age and cause), I find a nice card and write a note to them. They may not know me,but it is very important during the first weeks to learn that you can go on, will be able to put one foot in front of the other after the death of a child.
I had over 200 cards when my OH died suddenly from a heart attack, seven years ago. The vicar couldn't believe my lounge when he saw them all. We came to hate the postman bringing even more, more tears, more heartache, we all felt so wretched we didn't know what to do with ourselves. After two weeks I put them all safely in a pretty box ready for the day when I could read all the wonderful things they had written about him. That day has never come. I'm a good public speaker, but I knew I couldn't say a word at his funeral. I asked his best friend if he would say a few words, he declined, knowing he wouldn't get through it either. So much depends on the circumstances and the people involved. I would never expect a thank you for a condolences card, but that does not mean that their love did not help us through the blackest days of our lives.
Oh BowlingBun, you have described it so well. I hated the postman coming too,and the florist.
I never used to know what to say or do either when someone had died. Now I make a point of contacting them a few weeks later, by letter, saying I hope they're OK, muddling along as best they can (after a while, this was my standard reply when anyone asked me how I was) but I would also say that if they weren't sleeping properly, and finding themselves ironing or doing accounts at 3am, to go and see their GP to help them get some sleep, because even if they didn't want the pills, their body would certainly appreciate them.
That's a nice idea Bowlingbun - we all now how the attention drops off, usually after the funeral, and it certainly must be nice to know that people are still thinking of you.
I was the first in our group of friends to be widowed, at 54, and I didn't really have anyone close to give me any real support. Just saying to someone widowed "How are you sleeping?" will tell them that you understand a little of how difficult it is to adjust. Asking someone "would you like to come round for a coffee?" is really kind too, because all of a sudden there is no one to share a drink, or a meal with. There is nothing you can say or do which will change what has happened, but just these simple things will, at least, help make the bereaved person feel that they are not totally forgotten about, especially if they are living alone, as I was. If you are afraid of awkward silences, why not share a coffee in a garden centre? Then you can look round together under cover, and even that bit of togetherness will be appreciated by someone suddenly living alone.