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A conflicted question:

Today I found out an old friend of mine died.  We’d fallen out with each other more than ten years ago, but back then we were really close.  I know his brother, but not well.  I feel like I should say something, but what?


Oh, it’s terribly difficult.  Try this:

Dear Name of the Brother, of your Ex-Friend who is now Dead,

I have just heard the sad news about the death of your brother.  Though we had not been in contact for some time, I still remember most the wonderful times we had.  He will be missed.  I’m so sorry for your loss, and you have my deepest sympathy.

Yours Most Sincerely,

Your Own Bloody Name Goes Here

All this is written down on a plain piece of white paper, or fancier paper bordered in black if you happen to have it handy, in plain black ink.  NO sympathy cards, NO poetry and pictures of flowers, NO “I’m sure he’s in a better place” or “You must be so relieved” or whatever people think passes for consolation.

It doesn’t matter how you feel, or how you feel he should feel.  It matters how his brother feels, and you need to take that into consideration.

If your falling out was so catastrophic that writing to him would seem insulting, then don’t do it.

You have my deepest sympathy.  Now go write that letter.


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