When someone we know loses a loved one, we want to give a condolence card. Unfortunately, we’re grief-illiterate. Our words and cards often aren’t as comforting as we intended. Let’s educate ourselves on how to do a better job.

I cried when I heard that Ruth Bader Ginsberg died. She changed America through her tireless leadership in fighting for equal rights. And left a living legacy.

I share this Facebook post from Labet Prichard:

“At almost every stage of her career, she was rejected, dismissed, and impeded by those threatened by a woman of valor, integrity, ad intellect. She made an immeasurable contribution to America by refusing to give up, even when the odds seemed hopeless. She was a living example of the value of persistence. Do not despair. Follow RBG’s example. Persist”

Yes, Justice Ginsberg taught us that with awareness and education, we can change.

Let’s follow her example by persisting in educating those around us about grief.

Because we are Grief-Illiterate. We don’t know how to comfort those who’ve lost a loved one.

It’s time to leave it behind

It’s time to move beyond the trite condolence phrase of, “I’m sorry for your loss.”

You write it and say it – not meaning to be hurtful.

It’s not your fault. No, it’s the unconscious shallowness of our grief-illiteracy.

How to write the heartfelt card: a simple formula

So, what do you write or say instead of, “I’m sorry…”?

  1. This loss is tragic – or – How tragic to hear that (person’s name) has died.
  2. I will always remember (person’s name) _____, _____, _____. (write three characteristics, traits, or memories)
  3. Enfolding you in Comfort,
  4. Your name.

For Example:

This loss is tragic.

I will always remember Carla’s beautiful smile, giving nature, and love of dogs.

When we say, “I’m sorry”, it makes it about you and not about the one calling for comfort. Beginning with, ‘This loss is tragic’ puts the event in the middle between you – the sender and receiver of the card.

I will always remember (person’s name) reflects the departed’s impact on your life. It offers support to the griever. Their loved one impacted you too.

If you did not personally know the departed, you may reflect a memory that was shared about them. For instance, ‘I remember hearing about ______ (person’s name), when they ______ (an event your friend or colleague told you about).

Or you may just observe a quality about the griever.

In memory of RBG, let’s dedicate ourselves to changing our culture. Let’s persist in education until we become Grief Literate. Let’s persist until “I’m sorry for your loss” is as outdated as corsets and pantaloons.

Share this condolence card template

Share this simple condolence card formula on your Social Media today. Help break the fog, blindness, and dumbness of Grief-Illiteracy.

Love all around, above, below, to the left and to the right, before you and behind you,