Thursday, March 20, 2014

Death Over 55

Do your emotional reactions to news of a death, vary with the age of the deceased? I find that mine do. It is not a sliding scale of caring, but a human assumption at work: life is supposed to progress from infancy to old age.

Sifting through emotions is part of the process of writing condolence notes.  

In this second post of a 4-part series, I will:

  • Paint a generalized picture of an age group

  • Explore common reactions to death in that age group, and

  • Suggest the best condolence elements for notes to survivors.

  • PART 2: Condolence Writing for a Death Over Age 55

    This age group (mine) is prime Baby Boomer territory.
    Boomers launched the space age, and redefined the good life:  media researcher, Nielsen, finds that 55+ shop, bargains hunt and pursue goods and goals equal to those younger. They have found that many of us watch more TV and logon, daily.

    By 55, men and women have raised a family (even done it twice, with a new partner.) Boomers amass friendships from their school years, neighborhood, and jobs--all more easily nurtured electronically. Generally, this age group has a motivating vision of retirement:  10,000 Boomers a day draw their first Social Security.

    Reactions (these may be your private thoughts, not parts of a note)

  • I've lost a dear friend/co-worker/member of _____
  • Did he/she overlook a health issue
  • Should I be concerned about my health
  • He/she didn't get to/get much of- retirement
  • How will this affect survivors

  • Best Condolence Elements

  • Acknowledge the loss “(name) was such a special person; I am so sorry.”

  • Acknowledge a quality of the survivor(s)  “Your special care always lit up his face…”

  • Acknowledge a quality of the deceased “(name) shared her talents …”

  • Share a memory “I remember when (name) and I …"

  • Consider a memorial donation meaningful to the deceased/survivors (the family will be notified by the charity, but you may mention the gift in your note) "to honor (name's) life, I sent a gift to ___ " 

  • I learn a lot about myself each time I consider the life of –and my reactions to—a death. This is certainly one of the gifts we have been given by the person who died.

    What have you learned during these losses? Share your comments, and thank you for caring!

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