This past week, I sent two sympathy emails and two sympathy cards – one each for a person and a pet. While the younger generation thinks nothing of sending condolences through emails or Facebook, and the older generation thinks that unacceptable in sensitive matters and flocks to the handwritten note, for me in the middle, I feel torn.
The beauty of the Internet is that it allows you to express feelings instantly, so for the person in mourning, right away they receive support. However, there’s a human touch element in writing a note that conveys much more than an instant message.
But is one better than the other?
Maybe it depends on how you receive the news. My Auntie M. posted on Facebook that her beloved cat died. Right away friends and family responded with sympathetic messages. Sure, it may only be a cat, but to her and the millions who love their pets, their deaths still leave a void. But it’s not just pets that people are posting of loved ones passing.
A younger friend of mine found out via Facebook that her college roommate’s father passed away. The distraught friend, like so many others, had reached out to the masses to share this most horrible news in the only way a 20-year-old would. Instantly her page blew up with friends and family sending condolences and short messages of compassion. And it turns out, in her time of need, that instant comfort was exactly what she needed.
But for someone stuck in between these two generations, I choose to do both. While sympathy doesn’t need to be spelled out in longhand for it to be effective, I do find that when the flurry of messages cease and the mourner is left with their thoughts and heartache, there’s something about receiving a colorful envelope in the mail – one that stands out from the bills and the junk – that offers a special little lift of support, something that cannot be found online.