I find myself buying sympathy cards by the handful these days. My friends and I are at the stage of life in which many of our parents are passing away. Sometimes it is expected, after a long illness or decline, other times it is unexpected but not surprising when a parent leaves us.
Which leads me to the question..."What price for a life?"
Sometimes the bereaved is a very good friend, sometimes a distant relative. Sometimes the person is grieving, but are struggling with also being relieved that the person is no longer in pain. Sometimes the deceased was cruel and conniving, and the bereaved person is relieved that they are no longer in their life. Or they know they are truly missing their best friend and rock in the world.
Many times it is all of those things.
Trite cards of "sorry for your loss" lose their meaning among a sea of "sorry for your loss" sentiments. We are all sorry. Sorry for what? That they are no longer here, or that they suffered? Or that they made YOU suffer?
Do I write a memoriam gift of $25? $50? $100? In the end, does the amount really matter? Writing the check for memoriam gifts is the one check that I think about for the longest time. Will they think less of me, or more of me if I write a check of a certain amount? Do they know that this amount is a sacrifice? Do they know we can afford more? Does it matter?
Does it matter to them?
Does it matter to the deceased?
And so I express what I can, and focus on the things that made a person happy. Treasure the memories, be grateful for the gifts of the person's presence, for the happiness and good times that were had.
At the end of the day, that is all we can bring to others.
Because no amount is ever enough.