Not sure what to say after a friend loses a parent? Break the silence with one of these sympathy cards.

As many of you know, my mother passed away two months ago and I’ve been on the receiving end of quite the spectrum of expression, ranging from an outpouring of sympathy via cards and meals – I even still have a couple in my freezer – to absolute silence.

The silence is isolating but not surprising. I think most people really don’t know what to say and tend not to say anything out of fear of saying the wrong thing. Or, as I have been experiencing, they ask “how are you” and purposely avoid talking about what happened because they are afraid of making you feel worse by mentioning your loss. But as Sheryl Sandberg explains in this Oprah interview about Option B, the book she wrote about the experience of losing her husband, you can’t remind us because it’s always there. As an aside please watch this video as it is incredibly helpful in explaining what we all get wrong about sympathy.

Graphic designer Emily McDowell also noticed this while undergoing cancer treatment and created a line of absolutely fantastic sympathy cards. You can check them out here.

I thought, I can add to this gallery of sympathy cards by creating a few specific to my situation of losing a parent. So I did. I’m used to making homemade cards with the kids plus creating these was very therapeutic for me. Think of these cards as prototypes and I know they can be improved upon, especially the artwork (or lack thereof) so go easy on me and remember that I am a quant girl who is much more comfortable working in a palette of MS Excel. But I believe they capture the intentions of those friends and acquaintances who want to say something and take the fear out of speaking up and comforting a friend and even maybe making them laugh a little.

I hope you enjoyed these cards. You may also like this post, “What I am giving to my dying mother on her last Mother’s Day”, well, as much as one can like anything about death and dying. If you prefer a happier post, since I mentioned liking math read this one, “Finding Beauty in Numbers“.

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