how to sighn a thank-you note after a funeral

Yup–that’s what I googled. Don’t worry–it auto-corrected.

I tried to get many of the acknowledgment notes written today, and it’s just hard to concentrate for too long. Of course, I could easily write the same note to everyone, and for some, I did just that (except neighbors–they might compare. Paranoia is always based on something). But I spent more effort than I thought in writing what I thought they would want to hear, plus something I wanted them to hear. For what are we learning from this loss? Always the teacher?

This whole process of bereavement for my sister is a lot more complicated this time around than for my mother. That this was not obvious to me is part of the complication.

bereave

[bih-reev]

verb (used with object), bereaved or bereft, bereaving.
1. to deprive and make desolate, especially by death (usually followed by of):

Illness bereaved them of their mother.

2. to deprive ruthlessly or by force (usually followed by of):

The war bereaved them of their home.

The stages of grief hit hard, like continual punches to the gut. You can know what to expect (see this information on Grief, Bereavement, Coping with Loss from the National Cancer Institute, for example), but you have no idea what it will really feel like. Descriptions mimic, but ultimately fail.

People are doing their best to keep in touch. I do appreciate that. What surprised me is how much it has meant to receive notes from people I don’t know very well. Some of those are because they are in shock and need to do something, but others are because they seem to be genuinely acknowledging our loss.

I should share what happened to my BIL last week, while he was walking with ISHI to our house for Shabbat lunch after morning services. The postman, who was doing his normal house-to-house mail delivery, stopped him and asked, “Are you Mr. BIL?” When he replied that was true, the postman continued, “I’m so sorry for your loss”, and then gave him a large warm hug.

How did he know that he had lost his wife? He noticed a large amount of letters and cards coming to the house, found his name on Facebook, thus leading to the hug. Thankfully, my BIL was very touched by the actions of this stranger, preferring that reaction over creepiness.

Just as I reacted to the thoughts expressed by my more distant acquaintances, I was moved by that story.

Notice those two words?

Touched.

Moved.

What apt descriptions of changing one’s mood; on the journey from one stage of grief to another.

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