Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Greeting Cards for Grief

You've probably seen the awesome empathy cards for cancer that were created by Emily McDowell--I wish I would have seen these in time to order some for my friend Beth! (There are a couple that are not cancer-specific that I also love.)

Heather Spohr created some mock-ups of cards specifically for grief and child loss, and I got teary-eyed as I read them. Because they are EXACTLY RIGHT. These are the things we need to hear.

I remember feeling appalled and so pissed off at people who wished me a merry Christmas three weeks after Eliza died. I know they just wanted to acknowledge me during the holidays, but wishes of merriment felt like a huge slap in the face--even a year later. This card is much better. You can send me this card for the next million years.

image borrowed from The Spohrs Are Multiplying

So if your friend lost her baby and you don't know what to say? Borrow the words on one of these cards. Heather gets it exactly right.

My friend Caroline recently posted this quote from Glennon Doyle at Momastery, and I want to share it here, too:

You can't fix a friend's grief, but that's okay because grief isn't supposed to be fixed. It's not something we need to grab from each other. Grief is holy. Your friend doesn't want it taken away from her. Sometimes a mama's boundless grief is the only proof she has that she loved boundlessly. Great grief is the price of great love. So forget about making it better. Just call, or email and say: I am thinking of you. And of your baby. And I love you. And I'm so sorry. 

That's all. That's all we can do. We don't have to make it better. We just have to remember.

(My bolded emphasis. Because reading that sentence just made me cry.)

Here's to boundless love and greeting cards that get it right.

P.S. How Old Navy got it wrong a year ago
A text that sent me over the edge: What NOT to say
The post I wrote on Mother's Day five years ago and waited to publish


  1. Thank you for this. My Andrew's birthday is 10 days away and I'm on the downward slide. I often think of our new pastor coming by (we'd met him once) and he wanted to pray with us (we're not super-religious). He joined hands with my husband and I, bowed his head and said "Dear Lord, this really sucks. . . " and I that's all I remember. Because Dear LORD, this really sucks (I need a card that says that, too).

  2. I like that so many of these cards acknowledge that words are tricky and hard, but what we're trying to do is be there. There really is no perfect phrase for anything like this. I've heard people say things before that really set my teeth on edge, but then later I've listened to the same exact words and thought of them in a different light. Illness and grief are so deeply personal that's it's always going to leave others floundering a bit for words. I know I often don't know what to say, or talk too much when I should just listen.

    We received so many cards after my niece died, and many of them were standard Hallmark "With Deepest Sympathy Cards", but I still loved receiving them because we felt less alone and isolated. It was a weird thing to return home and still be so completely devastated in a place that was so far removed from the core of our grief. I like the cards in your links, but I also love her idea of buying a more traditional card and altering it (or completely editing it), because honestly, there's nothing normal about catastrophes like this. There are no perfect emojis - broken hearts, praying hands, angel wings + halos, but we use them anyway and I'm grateful for the connections.

  3. You've written something equally eloquent here on your blog that I've quoted on Facebook (as my most famous blm bestie) about how the grief= proof of love.

    Off to read the cards, but thank you for sharing.

  4. I love that excerpt you posted above and just shared it with a Mom I just met who lost her baby a few months ago to a cord accident. I love the Emily McDowell cards and ordered some to have on-hand with hopes that I never have to send them to anyone.