Tuesday, April 30, 2013

In Our Time of Sorrow: Memorial & Sympathy Acknowledgement Cards

Today, we're tackling a solemn topic. In the difficult event of the passing of a loved one, having to organize and prepare for a service can seem overwhelming and it can potentially take away from the peace of mind necessary to go through that ordeal. This is a time for family and friends to come together, to both celebrate a life and mourn their loss. Finding the perfect words to express your sorrow or acknowledge another's sympathy shouldn't be a struggle.

So, as always, we're here to help.

Often, when writing death or memorial announcements, the hardest part is attempting to find the words to capture an entire, well-lived life. The most important part is remembering that anything you write will be good, so long as it comes from a place of love. But if you really aren't a writer, it can sometimes help to borrow another's words. We've compiled some truly eloquent quotes to flesh out your announcement:

We shall find peace. We shall hear angels,
we shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds.
Anton Chekov

When you are born, you cry, and the world rejoices.
When you die, you rejoice, and the world cries.
Buddhist Saying

And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
Khalil Gibran

For what is it to die,
But to stand in the sun and melt into the wind?
Kahlil Gibran, from "The Prophet"

Good men must die, but death cannot kill their names.

Say not in grief that she is no more, but say in thankfulness that she was.
A death is not the extinguishing of a light, but the putting out of the lamp
because the dawn has come.
Rabindranath Tagore

In three words I can sum up everything
I've learned about life: it goes on.
Robert Frost

Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes 'round in another form.

My latest sun is sinking fast, my race is nearly run.
My longest trials now are past, my triumph has begun.
Stanley Brothers, from "Angel Band"

Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.
Thomas Moore

When I hear that trumpet sound, I will lay my burdens down.
I will lay them deep into the ground. Then I'll know that I am glory bound.
Wailin' Jennys, from "Glory Bound"

Death - the last sleep? No, it is the final awakening.
Walter Scott

The rest is really a reflection on the life of the person you're memorializing. It's important to recognize the most important events and dates in that person's life, like marriages and the births of their children. This ties into the idea of recognizing who the deceased is survived by. It can also be a good idea to include a sentence or two about things they were known for, like their love of the Atlanta Braves or their penchant for collecting old books. And again, heartfelt writing is the best kind of writing.

Another aspect to consider are sympathy acknowledgement cards. After the funerals or memorial services are over, it's a good idea to send out cards thanking those who have helped you through, in whatever way. If they sent flowers, or made a casserole, or just sat with you for a period of time, it's considered good manners to thank them for their presence in your time of sorrow. There's a rhyme that many people include in their acknowledgements that is particularly fitting:

Perhaps you sent a lovely card,
or sat quietly in a chair.
Perhaps you sent a funeral spray,
if so we saw it there.
Perhaps you spoke the kindest words,
as any friend could say;
perhaps you were not there at all,
just thought of us that day.
Whatever you did to console our hearts,
We thank you so much, whatever the part.

But perhaps this is simply not your style. In that case, take a look at Wording Suggestions for Sympathy Acknowledgements from PaperStyle. Sympathy acknowledgements can be as lengthy or as concise as you'd like to be; it just means a great deal that you're sending them at all.

Do you have any suggestions for memorial or sympathy acknowledgement wording that you'd like to share or that you've found particularly eloquent?

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