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(RNS) For some odd reason, it is human nature to want to provide the magic words that will do the trick. Often, however, those are the very words that end up failing.


  1. Notes of condolence never get easier because sadness and grief can never be easy, can never be separated from the loss of those we love, especially if it is genuine. Our grief is so difficult for ourselves and others to confront that it is awkward. We resort to notes rather than wordless hugs or a sharing of genuine tears. In many cases, that allows us to pretend feelings we do not genuinely share.

    “The American Way of Death” has become so formalized to make it easier. Formalizing always dehumanizes. It is no surprise that sympathy cards are a part of the “greeting card” business that produce happy cards for occasions like birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, graduations, etc. And don’t forget to include some greenbacks or a check!