Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Card Club


As many of you know, HOB’s father recently passed away. HOB was so touched by all the people who reached out with messages to him. He was amazed each time someone sent a card of condolence.

When I was younger I kind of pooh-poohed the idea of cards. I figured that in the overwhelming face of death, a $2.95 card from me would do little to ease someone’s suffering. I would send sympathy cards to close friends and family, maybe, but I never really thought of sending them to co-workers, or neighbors. In a way I thought they would think I was being ghoulish or latching on to their sorrow in a way I had no right to latch on.

All that changed when I joined the Card Club after my own father passed away.

I was unable to go to the funeral since I was traveling in Europe at the time. I remember getting home and finding cards in my mailbox from friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and co-workers.
Since I had not gone through the ritual of the funeral or burial, these cards were especially important to me.

I remember opening one from a fellow teacher I knew, but not well, and a wave of recognition swept over me. She had recently lost a parent. She knew. She understood. She had paid her dues to the Card Club and now was extending her hand out to me, a recent inductee.

That’s what I saw when I really looked at the cards that had been sent after HOB’s father’s death.

I realized that almost everyone who sent a card was someone who had lost at least one parent. These cards, these pieces of stock paper with pretty pictures on them, were messages from those who had experienced great losses.

People were sending silent and powerful nods to his situation and all the emotions he was feeling. They were saying, “I know. I know. And now you know too. And I'm sorry. And it hurts. And it will hurt for some time to come.”

Welcome to the Card Club.

46 comments:

Teresa Evangeline said...

This is very moving. I, too, saw cards as you once did and found that they do serve a beautiful purpose. As I sit here at my kitchen table this morning, I find comfort from your words at the loss of my own parents, though several years ago now. What a nice addition to the Card Club.

Talli Roland said...

What a wonderful post, Betty. I agree - the Card Club is a great support network. I'm very sorry to hear about HOB's father.

Madi and Mom said...

Hi BB,
Each time I read your post I think that is the best ever then you post another that is even more beautiful... Thank you sharing with us.

I love sending cards and receiving them.
Hugs Madi and Mom

Mamma has spoken said...

It is nice to get this cards in that it makes you know that you're not the only one who is going through it and that others are thinking and praying for you and your family. It lets you know that you are blessed with a wonderful support system.
Here's hopeing you get more cards in the mail soon.

Lin said...

You forget how much those simple tokens of thought mean to those who are grieving. It's nice that people still take the time to send a card with a note. I guess Hallmark does have the right idea after all.

Leah J. Utas said...

They make a difference, Betty. I didn't realize it for me until I sent one to a friend I'd only seen once since J school who'd lost his wife and daughter in an accident. About a year later another friend saw him and he asked her to pass along to me how much it had meant to him.

Liz said...

I'm so glad for those who sent cards to you. You guys need that kind of support and understanding after a loss like this.

Linda said...

You've really nailed it with this post. It's the experience of grief or trial that makes us sensitive to the griefs and trials of others.

I lost my brother to a car accident when I was 22 years old. None of my friends and acquaintances had any point of reference for a loss like that and so didn't have a clue what to say or do. My parents were surrounded by comforters, while I felt like an outsider. I still remember that one cousin approached me at the funeral home and asked, "How are YOU doing?" The kindness in his voice was so unexpected that it brought tears to my eyes.

God works through others to comfort us in our trials so that we can be the people He works through to comfort others in theirs. It's a good system.

Leanne said...

The card club ... what a great club name. I completely agree with you whole-heartedly. Years ago, Katie's pre-school teacher lost her father. I remember writing a note and sending a sympathy card to school with Kate. Four years later, I ran into this teacher at another school function. She came up to me and gave me the strongest hug (to which I was a bit taken back). She then said, "I remember the card you sent me when my Dad passed away, and you have no idea how much it meant to me. Thank you so much for your support." I couldn't believe that she remembered my little card. Yes, we are both members of the Card Club, too. And I can't think of another club I'd rather be a part of. Great post, dear Betty.

Jules said...

This was beautiful Betty. Not only am I member of the card club but I also belong to the casserole caravan. A southern thing to bring food to those in mourning :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Flartus said...

It's always so hard to know what few words to put in a card like that. And somehow, as life hands us more losses, it doesn't get any easier.

Pearl said...

You are absolutely right, Betty. If you've been a survivor, you understand. Before that, it's hard to face such overwhelming sorrow with something as seemingly trite as a card, but it's NOT the card that's important: it's the fact that you acknowledge the loss.

Pearl

Pat said...

I feel the same way. You don't quite "get" it, till you lose a parent. Then you join the club. When I first lost my father, I was like "Oh my God, I didn't express my sympathy ENOUGH to my friends who had lost a parent."

Two of my sisters have lost their spouses and they say to me, "You don't "GET" it. And hopefully I won't for a long, long time.

Sonora said...

This post gave me goosebumps. I think it is hard to truly understand what someone is going through unless you have been through it yourself. It is amazing how much a small gesture can mean, and for how long it lasts. Support and understanding is incredibly powerful.

Brian said...

Yes indeed, it is one of those power in numbers things.

Nat said...

Betty, you have no idea how much I can associate with this post.
Having lost my dad less than 3 weeks ago, I am currently in the Card Club, with sympathy cards on display in my home. Each one is so very special to me....
I know now the importance of such a seemingly small gesture.

Cheeseboy said...

When I was younger, cards didn't mean much to me. But they mean a lot more to me now. More than any gift could.

Lori said...

Thank you for reminding me how something as simple as a card or note can make someone's day...can make them know they do not walk alone...this is just the reminder I needed today. Thanks bunches. XX

LittleSilkDress said...

I learned this after I lost my grandmother and grandfather (Sept 9 and Dec 9, 2000). I was 14. The house was flooded with cards for my mom and for our family. One person thought to send me my own card and it made SUCH A DIFFERENCE. The acknowledgement that I specifically had lost someone important was overwhelming. I made it my mission after that to send cards to any friend who suffered a loss.

That being said, I am fortunate to not yet know the loss of a parent. I pray that such a loss is a long time coming.

Thank you for this post, Betty. It's a good reminder and lesson.

Baby Sister said...

I had never thought of it like that. I vow to do better at card sending in the future. Thanks Betty.

Donna said...

Amen Miz Betty!
Sorry for the loss of your Father...Both of my parents are gone...and I still have their cards...Sweet post!
hughugs

The Adorkable Ditz said...

I don't remember the house getting cards after my grandfather passed away but I know the feelings that some sort of recognition brings when people give condolences.

Hopefully the family I mentioned last night is getting through this tough time well...

Hope your husband is handling well also.

The Adorkable Ditz' Missteps

Old Kitty said...

Awww I love sending and receiving cards. I can't bear e-cards. I think choosing a card and writing one is the most thoughtful thing I can do to show someone I care. Even with the valentine's just gone. I'd pass on the pressies for a lovely card I know was chosen especially for me.

Take care BB!!! xx

Daisy said...

I'm a member of the card club too. I appreciate the cards people take the time to send to me, and I think it is important to send cards out too. It's nice knowing someone is thinking of you.

Hilary said...

This is so true. I know someone who invested so much anger and hurt into the folks who didn't acknowledge her father's passing with a card. Different experiences yield different behaviours. Once you know how comforting it is to receive those cards, you send them.

ethelmaepotter! said...

Oh I feel so guilty. I used to be a faithful member of the Card Club, but somewhere, I fell off the wagon.

I remember when my children were just finishing up a semester of English with the strictest teacher in the entire school. Everyone dreaded her classes, as her assignments were simply overwhelmingly difficult. But my children loved her. What they loved was her determination to see the kids who left her class not only literate, but well versed in many areas of literature and language. She was hard, yes, but she was just and a terrific teacher.

I wrote her a thank you card, explaining just this, and she wrote one to me in return. She told me how much the card had meant to her - that never in her long career had anyone thanked her for doing her job - that my card was better than a pay raise - and that she had framed it and hung it in her home.

You never know how much you lift a spirit by sending a few written words.

I'm getting off the computer right now. Today is the birthday of a coworker, and I must stop and buy a card...

Pat Tillett said...

I think cards area great! I like them even better when they are personalized. I always bought blank cards so I could write the contents myself. I love cards, I HATE card stores!

Tracy said...

Betty,
That was a beautiful look at the importance of cards. I always have great intentions of sending cards but don't always get around to it so now I will make good on my efforts...

Beth Zimmerman said...

Goosebumps! You have an awesome way of looking at life ... and sharing it with the rest of us!

Gigi said...

The cards themselves aren't so important - it's the fact the thoughts behind those cards. Whether they be condolence cards, birthday cards or thinking of you cards. Especially in this day and age.

Ann said...

I have a box of cards that I received when my father passed away. Those simple little cards meant so much and I just can't bear to part with them.

Venassa said...

I've always been a lover of cards, but you have an amazing way of looking at it.

Velvet Over Steel said...

I used to feel the same way. Extremely thrifty and not raised by a mother who had much sentiment for things like cards. However, when my dad died 3 1/2 years ago, unexpectly and at an already difficult time in my life.. Cards too were so very comforting. It amazed me too all the people from his long ago past, military days, union job days, even old school friends, sent cards or came to the funeral. Wow... such respect to my father and much comfort to me and my brother.

Great post! Thank you, Betty!!
Hugs,
Coreen xoxoxo

Marlene said...

Well, I may be a tad biased, but really...cards are great! A few words on a card can make someone's whole day!

Lydia K said...

People really can show a bit of their soul in a card. The written word can be a powerful, healing thing at such a terrible time.

The Retired One said...

That is so very true! I am behind in my blog reading due to being out of town for 3 weeks, so I didn't know of your loss, either. I am so sorry.
We have lost both my parents and my husband's parents...but were with all 4 when they passed. You are never, ever the same after the loss of a parent..no matter what their age or your age. This was an especially poignant post of capturing the comradaree of that common experience and grief.

Susan in the Boonies said...

Mmmm. That is so very true. The Club that Nobody Wants to Belong To.

Zuzana said...

The written word has a completely different appeal than the spoken one, as it is there for us to visit and revisit, almost for ever. It is also more intimate, meant for our eyes only. I still write cards and letters, as I still love to receive those myself.
Lovely post.
xoxo

citymouse said...

I know exactly what you are writing about. I always felt like my condolences weren't important, etc. When my mother died I was stunned at how much every card meant. I still have them tied in a ribbon in a dresser drawer. I have never looked at them again but I don't think I will ever get rid of them. Now I am a card sender too. It's such a small gesture in a time of helplessness but it really is powerful.

Cricket said...

I will not hesitate to send a card again. Thanks.

Barbara Shallue said...

I've always believed in sending cards - but that doesn't mean I'm always good at doing it. Thanks for the reminder. Beautiful post!

blueviolet said...

And that's why they mean so much. People understand the pain.

Brian (not the cat) said...

Betty, you give us so much food for thought that our brains will soon need the Lap-Band.

I'm pretty good about sending cards to bereaved people I know well or see frequently, but I'm not as good when it comes to lesser acquaintances. Yet I know firsthand how cards or other gestures from such people can be especially appreciated precisely because they are so unexpected, reminding us that even people outside the quotidian realm really do care about us. I promise to be better! And certainly, the older we get, God knows, there's unfortunately more and more opportunity to practice.

Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

I'm starting to appreciate cards more now. I was a poo pooer myself once. Glad you've had so much support from the club!

Shan said...

Some clubs you just don't want to join... but it's good to know you're not alone.

Hugs to you and HOB.

CherylK said...

Am catching up on my blog reading and am so happy that I opened this post, first. It's so beautifully written, Betty. And so true.