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The Condolence Cards That Comforted Me After My Father Passed Away

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I have a blank condolence card sitting on my desk for well over a week now. I know better than that; this card should have been signed, sealed and delivered long ago. It’s been sitting on my desk. I procrastinated and now I’m sitting here thinking, “Oh shoot! What if I say the wrong thing? What if I stir up painful memories?”

But I know how comforting every single card and note received was after my father died. The bond between a father and daughter can be profound and everlasting. The loss of my father brought about not only feelings of loss and grief, but also a gut-wrenching fear. Losing my father was devastating. I spent the first few days after my father’s death in a daze. Just speaking and showering were difficult. I remember my phone ringing and people talking, but all I heard was the Charlie Brown teacher on the other end. Just uttering the words, “Thank you,” became exhausting. So I stopped answering the phone and relied on my better half to tell people I couldn’t do it.

Grief is confusing and has a way of making my thoughts race. But condolence cards and well wishes can be comforting. We received hundreds of cards, some from people we never met but knew of us through my dad. They knew of us as “Al’s girls.” Friends of my dad who knew how my father’s face lit up when he spoke of his family. Cards from men and women who worked for my dad many years ago but fondly remember him as being a kind and fair boss, a great man. I vividly remember sitting at my parent’s kitchen table reading every single word, hanging onto every single word. Slowly as I read through piles of cards, hundreds of them, it seemed overwhelming to think about how so many people cared enough to send along their prayers and well wishes. I went through the cards more than once. They became my lifeline. Just knowing so many people were thinking of us, trying to comfort us in such a painful time, was what really mattered.

The pain of losing someone may never be fully erased, but in my experience, a few words of sympathy can help ease the burden of pain off your loved ones who have lost a person of significance. Below are some suggestions when we’re at a loss for what to write in a condolence card.

  • I am deeply saddened to hear the news of your father. He was a great man.
  • Your father had such an amazing personality. He always made the best out of any situation. (Include a memory your remember.) I learned a lot from him throughout the years. He was always a ray of light and an inspiration. My life will not be the same without him.
  • I am truly sorry for your loss. There is not grieving message that can express how much he meant to me. My heart is aching.
  • Your father was always there for my family and me. He was so giving and thoughtful. He will live on in our hearts forever.
  • Your father always bragged about how wonderful you were. I hope you know that you meant the world to him. He was a wonderful man and will be missed. Truly sorry for your loss.
Originally published: February 1, 2017
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