I Need to Write a Note

18 04 2011

On Friday I received an email.

I need to write a note.

A small group of women provide outreach on behalf of the Preeclampsia Foundation. I’m one of those women, and we write notes. The recipients of the notes come in different ways—women call the Foundation office looking for support, loving friends send a contribution in memory of a lost child.

It’s just a note.

“A couple just lost their daughter…” begins the email, and I feel a burning in the back of my eyes, but I push it back.

I need to write a note.

I go to the store and buy blank notecards.

Words on paper.

The next day I go to a different store and spend six dollars I don’t have on a card this couple won’t remember. It is also blank, because the greeting card industry has yet to make a card that adequately conveys the sentiment, “I’m sorry your baby died.”

I need to write a note.

I think about the cards I received when I lost Maggie. What did people write? It was over ten years ago and I can’t remember anymore.

I don’t know what to say.

I’m afraid to write on the pretty six-dollar card, because nothing sounds right in my head. All the words are trite and soulless.

I wonder if it will make a difference, this card from a stranger who knows the pain but still can’t figure out what to write.

I need to write a note.




5 responses

19 04 2011

Martha said it best: it doesn’t matter what you say. What matters is that you care–deeply. For me the greatest comfort was a busy woman (my mother’s age), you dropped off a jar of jam and said, “I was so sad to hear about your loss.” As you know, it’s important to know that you’re not alone in this. You have a beautiful soul. I love you.

19 04 2011

I don’t think it matters what you say. Just knowing that someone cares and understands helps. As an L&D nurse, I deal with “I’m sorry your baby died” far more than I ever thought possible. Everyone who I have come in contact with in a similar situation has been grateful for just a simple, “I’m so sorry.”

On a side note – as I have gotten older I have realized how inadequate the greeting card industry is. They don’t make, “Congrats on your new religion” cards, or “I’m sorry your sister died next to you in a car accident” cards, or “Congrats on your breakup – I knew he was a jerk all along” cards. Perhaps we should become business partners and revolutionize greeting cards…

18 04 2011

I saw this once and it seemed appropriate for this situation . . .

A love lost is never forgotten!! A child lost is to know heartbreak!! We are sorry to hear of your heartbreak and send our prayers on the wings of angels to easy your suffering and pain. May your heart be comforted from the pain and the love you have will not go ungiven . . . your child will never be far from your heart. Our love and prayers passed to you in your time of need! Let it lift you and yours to a place of peace.

18 04 2011
Anne Addison

naturally, I write better than I edit. That should say, “I was sorry to hear about your loss, or I am sorry for your loss…” and yes, I know you were being rhetorical in your blog. But, I wanted to thank you anyway for doing this. My job used to be writing to the parents who lost their adult daughters. After the fourth in as many months, I decided I couldn’t handle it anymore. Thank goodness other people were there to pick up the torch. Other people who got the note. 🙂

18 04 2011
Anne Addison

I’d usually say just that. Dear _ and _, I was sorry for your loss. Ten years ago, I lost my baby Maggie to the same evil disease. There really aren’t words that can take that away. Just wanted you to know you’re not alone.
My only goal when starting the Preeclampsia Foundation 12 years ago now (!) was that no woman should have to go through this alone. So just think – with one note – you’re fulfilling my personal mission. Thanks for that. You’re a blessing to us all.


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