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OBBLIGATO

Silver solemnity:

My best friend’s mother recently passed away, and in many ways she was like a second mother to me.  As part of her will, she left me the family silver.  Neither my best friend or his sister wanted it, so they told her to give it to me.  I’m truly grateful for this, but now I’m confused – do I send them a thank you note and a sympathy card?

LISTEN:

This is no time to play games, so put your cards away.

What you are going to do is send each of them a letter, in which you express your deepest sympathy for the passing of their mother, express your own love for her, and say something along the lines of being unworthy of her bequest, but treasuring it in trust of their friendship and love, etc.

Got it?  No cards.  Pen to paper, written by hand, a total of 2 it seems – one for each sibling at any rate.

It is fascinating to me how many people are truly terrified of putting their thoughts down on paper.  Or they become overwhelmed with performance anxiety, thinking their epistle must be worthy of inclusion of Clarissa or not be written at all.

Tosh.  What matters is that you write something honest and bloody well send it.  Three or four sentences will do, really – in cases like this, it’s the solidarity they’re looking for, and attention should be focused on them, and their loss.  Sure, you have a twist throwing in the cutlery, but that makes it four or five lines instead – not a weighty difference (unless it’s solid silver).

Do you really need an example?  OK.  Fine.  Ready?

PERSON’S NAME

I am just devastated to hear about the death of your mother.  The grief is balanced by the great joy I felt in knowing her all these years.  She was always so very kind to me, and so loving, and my life has been made so much better for having her in it.  I am so humbled you entrust your family silver to me – I will take great care of it, and I will always reflect upon how grateful I am for having you in my life.  I love you, and you have my deepest sympathy.

YOUR NAME

See?  That’s it.  You’re not going to get a prize, you’re just sharing your sympathetic feelings.  Tempered, of course, with respect to the feelings of the survivors.

Death is a funny business.  Count yourself lucky to have such friends – that hand over things like this as opposed to fighting each other for the ratio of forks to family members.

Disagreement over money is brutal enough, but convertible goods – especially ones that include knives and other pointed objects – can get downright nasty.  That alone is something to be thankful for – friends who value your shared lives over the resale value of their memories.

Try putting that in a letter.

You have my deepest sympathy.

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