Abby has it wrong.
In her article dated 19 August 2007, Dear Abby told a grieving mother of a deceased child that she needed to write thank you cards as soon as possible to those people who helped her out in her time of need ‘to get it out of the way.’ “Because you can’t bring yourself to do this task yourself, enlist the help of close friends and family to help.”
Basically, Abby told this poor woman to suck it up to get the thank yous written.
Horse pucky. I could not disagree more.
There are times in life when it takes all your strength to get out of bed in the morning and writing thank you cards is just too much to handle. Certainly the death of a loved one is one of those times — especially the death of a child. While I am anal retentive about people writing thank you notes promptly for most everything else, this is one case where I believe you just have to give someone a break.
If you feel the need to write thank you notes to those who have expressed their sympathy after the death of a loved one, it is certainly ok to wait until you have the strength to do it.
This is something that varies by individual: one of the office workers at Cards Direct said that writing the thank you notes a couple of weeks after the death of her mother was very therapeutic for her and helped her through the grieving process.
Another office mate, a mother who lost a child, said writing thank yous were just too much to deal with and that she believed “a grieving parent should not be obligated to personally send hand written thank you notes to everyone who expressed their sympathy. This time of loss can be unbearable just to function, let alone tackle the task of personally writing thank you notes.”
I agree. In the case of the loss of a loved one, you are under no obligation or time constraint to send thank yous. The bereaved get a pass on ‘normal’ social conventions for a year after their loss.
As I’ve said before, a thank you card is never too late. Take the time you need to pull yourself together, and absolutely ask your friends to help you with this difficult task if you feel you must write thank yous to those who have helped you during the lost of your loved one. But understand, this is one case — and I can’t think of any other case — where it is not absolutely necessary.