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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

QUESTION: My friend lives in another state. Her husband recently committed suicide. I was in their wedding but hadn't seen them in a while. I realize that people respond differently to grief, but I am having trouble writing a card to her about her loss. Is there a kind way to let her know I really care? I just don't know what to say.

CALLIE'S ANSWER: If you're having trouble expressing your feelings on paper, call her. I am better on the phone or in person, and it will be just as appreciated.

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: Have you tried calling her? Sometimes a phone call to see how she's doing is a good way to reopen a dialogue in a friendship. And, even months later, a card is always a nice way to let someone know that you are thinking of her. But however you reach out to her, ask her how she's doing, and let her know she's still on your mind. Sometimes, I believe, it's even more important to hear from friends after the activity and flurry of people surrounding a person's death and the funeral quiets down. My gut reaction is that she will appreciate hearing from a friend anytime; even when routines return to normal after a death, that person's life still won't be. Don't let time be a stumbling block to letting your friend know you care. Grief lasts a long time.

HELEN'S ANSWER: That is a hard one and I know you care deeply about your friend and her loss. A card is always appropriate, and if you cannot think of anything to write, that is OK. Just send a sympathy card with the words already on it. It is important that she know you are thinking of her at this sad time.

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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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