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20-40-60 Etiquette: Comforting a friend after her husband's death

I haven't been able to find the right words to talk to my friend since her husband died. Is it too late? 20-40-60 Etiquette answers, with Devonne Carter as guest.
by Helen Ford Wallace and Lillie-Beth Brinkman Published: January 13, 2013

GUEST'S ANSWER: Devonne Carter, licensed clinical social worker who has taught etiquette classes at Oklahoma Christian University: This is a common problem. Sometimes there are not words to express our love or convey how much we are hurting for our friends and loved ones. My answer to this question comes from the perception of the recipient of those words, as I have been in the seat of the grieving myself and have had many clients who have, as well.

Based on my experience in this area, it is not the words that are said that helps heal the deep hurt the grieving are feeling.

It is the actions of love and service that are shown. Just sending the card will remind your friend that you love her, which will help her in her grieving process. No one has any magic words that take your friend's pain away.

I would encourage you to sign your name to the card and mail it. She will know you are thinking of about her in one of the hardest times in her life.

Callie Gordon is twenty-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. You'll also find a guest answer. To ask an etiquette question, email For more 20-40-60 etiquette, go to

by Helen Ford Wallace
Society Editor
Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for...
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by Lillie-Beth Brinkman
Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman
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