Bereavement is a hard word, one we don’t want to be familiar with, with its connotations of immense sadness. Sometimes bereavement comes with a long and painful introduction. And sometimes it comes suddenly. The word itself comes from the Old English word bereafian, which means to take away violently, to seize or to rob.

Of courses, in modern usage bereavement simply means the loss of a loved one, without any outward connotation of violence. And yet, beneath it all there is a sense of the pain of having someone stolen away.

A hint of the origin of the word is in the phrase ‘robbed of life’. And we use it to talk about someone who died at a young age, ‘before their time’.

Sympathy Cards

Sympathy covers a wider meaning than bereavement, of course, so we have some that talk about loss and some that talk about the difficult time that people face.

We find that card shops must have a hard time finding sympathy cards. Perhaps greeting card designers tend to steer clear of making sympathy cards.

We had an electronic greeting card store before we started Flying Twigs, and we were sometimes asked where one could buy sympathy cards. More often than not it was specifically bereavement cards they were after. And that is part of the reason why we started Flying Twigs.

Calla Lily Card

A sympathy card with white Calla Lily in a glass vase and text 'Thinking Of You At This Difficult Time' including bereavement.

People ask all sorts of questions, such whether it is appropriate to send a sympathy card if they go to the funeral or visit the hospital. And we say there is every reason to do both and to send a card and attend if one can.

Of course, the question most asked is what to actually say in a sympathy card. And especially what to say instead of sorry for your loss? We wrote this post about how to write a sympathy card.

Our Calla Lily card features a single lily in a simple glass vase. Of course, the most important part of a sympathy card is not the image but the words, and so this card has the message ‘Thinking of you at this difficult time’.

So it can be sent to someone who is bereaved or someone who is going through someone’s illness or even their own illness.

Pets give us an emotional ride that is easily comparable to the feelings we get with other people. But somehow I cannot see someone sending it for the loss of a pet. That’s just me, though, and perhaps others would see it differently.

Classic Card

A sympathy or bereavement card with a classic, sculptured figure of a woman and text, 'With Sympathy'

Our Classic card is classical, with a nod to the ancient past. We see a bas relief marble image of a young woman and a font with a simple message of sympathy.

Marble is hard, and the hardness and the shine on the marble say that it is unyielding. What has happened has happened, and it cannot be undone.

These words and the variation, ‘With deepest sympathy’, appear on most of our cards. The Gerbera card features a single pink flower with half of the petals covering the space. In contrast, our Gladioli card shows several flower heads running diagonally across the space.

And our peony and rose cards have flower heads front and centre. They are intended as a comforting image to look at in difficult times.

Winter Tree Card

A sympathy or bereavement card with a lone, leafless tree in winter against a snowy landscape, with text 'With Deepest Sympathy'

This is the most midwinter of our Sympathy cards. There is the tree, stripped of its leaves. It sits in the snow-laden field, a dark one tree in a field of white. It is said that a person’s comfort with the notion of death can be tested by asking how they would feel if they were in a white room.

The room would have no physical landmarks – no doors, no delineation because floor and walls and ceiling. It would be a place in which one can sit, but without references points. A person who feels comfortable in such a situation is said to be at ease with the idea of death.

Here the suffering person can look at the blanket of snow and see themselves as the object of a little death – the death of a loved one. Seen that way it offers strength to the viewer, along with its message of deepest sympathy.

To find helpful guidance on how to write a bereavement card, please see this article. It helps with the words and the condolence message. And it talks about when to send a sympathy card – to which the answer is that it is never too early to send such a card. Do not delay, painful as it is for you to write such a card. And if the card is intended for a neighbour or a colleague you do not know well, then do not beat yourself up because you do not care deeply about what has happened.

Tulips Card

A sympathy or bereavement card with a bunch of pink tulips and text 'With Deepest Sympathy'

This impressionistic rendition of pink tulips is a long-time favourite on Flying Twigs. It is light and airy. One can say it is an optimistic image. The green of the leaves speaks of life and renewal. And the card carries a simple message of With Deepest Sympathy that is rendered in white against pink.

Perhaps it is in keeping with the spirit of the age that likes everything to be upbeat. The mood must be positive and picture perfect. We must not see outside the frame to the anxiety and deep feelings that are running raging underneath the well-composed exterior.

Yet the truth is that it is the deeper anxieties and feelings that make us human. We are worthwhile because of our doubts and fears, our limitations and our limited understanding. Time makes precious almost all things that are worthwhile.

Buying A Card

If you want to buy a bereavement card, click on any of the images on this page or click here for the full range of our Sympathy Cards. If someone you know wants to know how to buy a bereavement card, please direct them here.

Almost all of us have a well of sympathetic feelings. But the well can run dry. Each person that a nurse or a doctor encounters has a story, but searching into themselves to find the sympathetic feelings beneath it all can be a struggle for nurses and doctors who see person after person. If it is difficult to imagine that, think of thanking a person for saving you. Then imagine there are a thousand people, all of whom helped you. Imagine them in a line, each waiting for you to shake their hand in heartfelt appreciation.

Life can be hard for a grieving person, so if the well of sympathy is dry, think of sending a card as a responsibility, and carry it out quickly.

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