Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Thoughts on Sympathy Cards and Grief

Wow. I want to thank everyone who commented on or emailed regarding the two very different sympathy cards on this post. The replies are very perceptive and reveal one great truth about grief.

Everyone does it differently.

My two cards on that post both felt "grieving" to me, but some of you found the movement and energy of the many butterflies on the first card off-putting and too cheery. Others preferred that first card because it made them think their loved one had joined others who had gone before or that they weren't grieving alone.

Most of you preferred the second card, with just one butterfly (my personal favorite as well). Some of you thought that card would make you feel alone in your grief...it was too cold, perhaps, or barren.

Other readers wanted something in-between the many butterflies and the one. If that describes you, today's card might suit you.

This card started life as a one-layer card, but the placement was too low. Instead of starting over, I created this layered card. Butterflies represent transition and metamorphosis...life from death and resurrection. The upward movement of the three butterflies is nicely symbolic, but isn't it grand how the mat surrounds the stamped panel, anchoring it and giving a feeling of stability to the design? I find that tension comforting.

The color here is wonderfully neutral: Hero Arts' wet cement. It matches well with StampinUp's sahara sand cardstock. It has a completely different feel from the black of the first two cards. There's a drama and starkness to the black that (to me) seems to acknowledge the pain of grief honestly, but the softness of the wet cement is soothing to me.

There really are no "right" answers, are there? Everyone grieves differently. How lovely it is that we can make different cards for different people to share our sympathy and love with them in difficult times.

Blessings to you all!

stamps: Hero Arts Antique Engravings, Gina K Elegant Florals
paper: Papertrey white, StampinUp sahara sand
ink: Hero Arts wet cement, Memento Luxe rich cocoa
accessories: none


  1. My take on sympathy cards is even more different: I don't want mine to look like sympathy cards. When there's a reason to send a sympathy card, it's usually because someone is going through a very difficult time: they are sad, angry, confused, and hurting. Traditional sympathy cards, with their muted or dark colors and imagery, just enhance that feeling and bring the reason for the sadness to the foreground (at least that's what it does for me). So, when I send out sympathy cards I try to make the colorful and yet respectful, supportive without being cheery. I think, receiving a card that focuses on the fact that someone else is there to lean on, and on all the positive things you've experienced with a friend/family member/pet you've lost is important – you cannot do anything about death, but you can try to look at the positive shared moments instead of the overwhelming loss. I know I am probably in a minority with this, but traditional sympathy cards just make me so sad.

    That's not to say yours aren't beautiful, though! :)

  2. I just have suffered one of the worst losses - a grown up son has died by his own hand. I prefer this card to the other two - not as stark and it feels more hopeful somehow. Interestingly perhaps, I have received no sympathy cards yet (it has been 10 days) but i have received emails and texts and they are really not the same. I guess I am old-fashioned.

    1. oh wow - that is so stunningly sad - as complete stranger to you carol - i am sending my heartfelt sympathies,and hope you get some good old fashioned cards soon - Im old fashioned too and would send you a card x

    2. You have suffered one one of life's worst tragedy's and your friends don't know what to say to you or how to help...which is sad. As a parent, I grieve for you and your family. I hope you have close friends there for you...they are most important. I'm guessing people don't know if a sympathy card is appropriate at this time or not...and obviously it is not only appropriate but welcomed and needed. I wish you peace...

  3. love this simple but elegant card - not sure on the sympathy element though but changing the wording just makes this beautiful - At the end of the day you have to know the person you are sending it too - in which case this would be perfect x

  4. I agree that everyone grieves differently, and it is the thought that you sent a card, counts the most.


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