In March of 2014 I published a post on WMSB HOW TO WRITE A BEAUTIFUL CONDOLENCE CARD TO SOMEONE WHO HAS LOST A CHILD. It is far and away the most visited post on the site. In addition to many DON’TS, I offered the following ingredients for a beautiful message:
Open strong with something from the heart
Compliment the one who has passed
Share a favorite memory
Compliment the bereaved
Say something uplifting
My friend and muse, Mike Lueth, recently sent me this condolence letter that C.S. LEWIS wrote to the widow of his good friend and fellow influential British writer CHARLES WILLIAMS. I think you will agree Mr. Lewis touched all the bases, and then some.
To Florence Michal Williams
22 May 1945
Thank you for your most kind letter. We all knew that your marriage was one in a thousand. I think you will not be offended if I tell you this; that whenever Charles disagreed with anything we had said about women in general, it was a common turn of raillery to reply ‘Oh Charles! —of course he’s in love, so his opinions on that subject are worthless!’
I feel, in my degree, as you do. My friendship is not ended. His death has had the very unexpected effect of making death itself look quite different. I believe in the next life ten times more strongly than I did. At moments it seems almost tangible. Mr. Dyson, on the day of the funeral, summed up what many of us felt, ‘It is not blasphemous’, he said ‘to believe that what was true of Our Lord is, in its less degree, true of all who are in Him. They go away in order to be with us in a new way, even closer than before.’
A month ago, I would have called this silly sentiment. Now I know better. He seems, in some indefinable way, to be all around us now. I do not doubt he is doing and will do for us all sorts of things he could not have done while in the body.
Of course, this expects no answer…God bless you. C.S.
One would suspect no less from such an accomplished writer, but his letter to Mrs. Williams was over-the-top beautiful. And profound.
They go away in order to be with us in a new way, even closer than before.
I too would have thought that to be utter nonsense—no, flat impossible—when Jimmy was accidentally struck and killed by those cars. He was gone, just like my father. Lost to us, and never coming back. Leaving us with our pain, our grief, and a hole in our hearts never to be filled.
Their deaths an abrupt end to my relationships with them. Only memories, and in the case of my father, nightmares—a relationship so broken by his death by suicide that I ran as fast and far as I could from him.
I now know better.
First my father, soon followed by Jimmy, have gone to great lengths, in some indefinable way, to be all around us now.
The stories many of you have shared with us are testament that those you deeply love are also doing for us all sorts of things he/she could not have done while in the body.
Mr. Lewis carefully chose that word.
They are doing all sorts of things for not just you, or me, but for US.
For the parents, the widows, the siblings, other family members, friends and, yes, folks you/they have not met.
For those not yet born. For those who transitioned generations ago.
The collective, universe of US.
You don’t really believe they want to expend all that energy and creativity for just a few near and dear, do you?
Their messages, contacts, appearances, interactions and intricately constructed synchronicities are meant to be shared with all of US.
Sharing is how we express our gratitude and appreciation for all they are doing for US. It’s the cosmic High Five, Fist Bump, Fanny Slap.
And when a critical mass of US truly accepts and acknowledges they are all around us and even closer than before,
And when we, in turn, reciprocate with mindful expressions of our eternal love for them, and intentionally work at mending, healing and strengthening our relationships with them,
With a deep knowing in our hearts they, too, hear us, feel us and are so grateful for all those sorts of things we are doing for them even though they are no longer in their bodies,
I believe that is when the veil will come down,
And no longer will there be this side or the other side.