Emily Post, may I please have an etiquette extension?

October 4, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Posted in Death, Grief, traditions | 12 Comments

I should clarify from my last post, I do open mail.   I just don’t open it until it is screened.   My superior high-tech method of screening is Evan.   As I mentioned in this post, there are many things that I can’t handle these days – which by default (or by choice in some cases) fall to Evan.   Opening mail is in that category.

Writing letters is a different story.   The old me used to be pretty good at writing thank you notes.   From a young age I remember my late Aunt Harriett discussing with me (or maybe talking to my mom about me. . .) the importance of writing notes and cards.   Aunt Harriett definitely inspired me to correspond timely.

After Jake passed away I wrote thank you notes to everyone.   I cried as I wrote.   I felt like I was accomplishing something – or rather doing something for Jake.   The endless list of things I would never do for Jake did not include writing those thank you notes.   

When the twins arrived I diligently wrote thank you notes.   I did not cry writing those notes.   I was pretty sleep deprived so the notes may not have made any sense but they were written and mailed. 

Since Sawyer died I can not write a single note.  I know it is part of my grieving process but I just can’t seem to do it.   I have joked many times that Emily Post does not have a rule for me yet.   Recently, I was surprised to learn that she does have a rule:

“No one expects a long letter, nor does any one look for an early reply. A personal word on a visiting card is all any one asks for. The envelope may be addressed by some one else.”

Luckily for me Emily Post is not super strict:

“There is no official time frame for writing notes of appreciation to those who have extended their condolences and kindness to you.”

I am going to interpret this to mean that Ms. Post has granted me my extension. . .

Jake and Sawyer’s notes have this quote on the front of the card: 

What we have once enjoyed we can never lose;
All that we love deeply, becomes a part of us.
Helen Keller

And this quote applies to all four of our children:

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, not touched.
But are felt in the heart.

Helen Keller


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  1. Hi Lanie–with this post, I will leave a little note myself just to let you know I love you and am thinking about you. –Cousin Meredith

  2. Another beautiful post Lanie. I love those quotes.

  3. Some day when you are ready I will be honored to address envelopes.

    Love you and your family,


  4. well said, Lanie. love the quotes from Helen Keller! yes, all the we loved deeply does become a part of us

  5. 🙂

  6. Both quotes are beautiful. My love to you and all your beautiful children.

  7. In my humble opinion, notes are not required nor should be expected in such situations. I applaud you for your strength and consideration but, I can assure you; your loving friends would not have loved you any less nor blamed you for not sending a thank you note. If you send a note or not, you’re still my very dear friend whom I love and care for as much as any brother.

  8. Lanie, I am so sorry to hear of your losses of Jake and Sawyer. I don’t honestly know how you are still standing after experiencing such deep, heart-wrenching pain, twice. You are in my prayers as you continue down this road of grief that none of us should have to endure.

    I agree with you completely on the thank you notes. I still have a list of names and a stack of blank thank you cards that I can’t seem to write sitting on my kitchen table…you’re not alone.

  9. Lanie I’m 100% sure that NO ONE will hold it against you if you never write these notes–NOT EVEN EMILY POST.

  10. Thank you for posting this. I have been driving myself crazy because I haven’t written a single thank you note. You have relieved my guilt. I’ll do it when I am strong enough. I’m not strong enough just yet.

  11. Having just excavated “Aunt” Harriett’s house, I would advise us all to cease any attempt to live up to her standards. The woman was superhumanly organized!

    We found a complete inventory of all their household possessions; recipes *typed* on index cards, complete with citations to what issue of the paper they appeared in; and complete chron files of every scrap of publicity about each member of the family. And much much more. Of course all while raising 3 kids, maintaining a marriage, working as a lawyer and a judge, and going to the beauty parlor once a week.

    So let me forgive you on her behalf for not doing your thank-you notes on time or at all. Even forgetting your circumstances, no one should measure themselves against her. She was obviously bionic.

  12. […] thank you notes to all the people who had trees planted for Jake.  However, I never did write thank you notes for the trees, donations and acts of kindness that were done in memory of Sawyer.  I do want […]

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