A few years back I did a radio interview on how to write a condolence note. The interviewer mentioned some distinguished public speakers, quoting passages of notes they’d written. He asked me how the general public could replicate these meaningful messages. I was shocked for a moment thinking that if anyone expected to personally write such grandiose notes, they’d be so intimidated they’d never get them done. And maybe that’s why so many people procrastinate and struggle to write sympathy notes.

Through my experience I’ve learned that it’s not the grand gestures that have impact, but the simple kindnesses that wind up having the most meaning. It’s the banana bread left in your mail box that you retrieve when you return home late from the hospital. Knowing that someone cared enough to bake it especially for you feels so good. It’s the handwritten “thinking of you” note you find tucked in with all the junk mail, on a day when your spirits sag, feeling no one remembers you or your deceased loved one. 


It doesn’t take much effort to pick up the phone and make a call to an elderly friend or relative, perking up their day. It takes maybe ten or fifteen minutes to call a bereaved friend or loved one, just to say “I’m thinking of you today.” And the neighbor or colleague recovering from surgery or taking care of their elderly parent will surely appreciate a quick call to inquire, “How is it going?”


In this fast-paced, techno-centered world, it’s easy to think that emails, Facebook, Twitter and texting are the best ways to keep in touch. We forget just how important a personal note, a phone call or something like home delivery of flowers, a plant, or a small gift might mean to the recipient. When you’re feeling hurt, lost and alone, the best way to feel better is with a touch of humanity. And in this context, technology doesn’t cut it.


It’s the start of another year and prime time for resolutions. Make one; to take the time, once a week or every other week, to think of a friend or loved one who could use some sunshine. Keep it simple; write a quick “thinking of you” note or make a phone call just to say hello, you’re in my thoughts today. You’ll make someone feel good and I promise you’ll feel even better!


Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in three individual volumes: "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage." Additional titles are available as e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle StoreClick here to order.

Image Source: Flickr Creative Commons/Average Jane

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