Saturday, March 29, 2014

Death Over 70

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 third 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 3: Condolence Writing for a Death Over Age 70

    This age group has been dubbed "The Lucky Few" because they were too young to serve in the global scope of WWII. But how lucky were they to find themselves drafted for the grueling Korean and Vietnam wars?
    Men and women over 70 were raised by parents with fresh scars from the Great Depression-- an era of severe economic hardship. Generally, the Lucky Few married young, strove for secure trades and professions, and cherished the self made security of pensions, investments and savings.
    Most women and men over 70, don't think of themselves as "old." Yes, there are some lines, sags, a joint crackle from time to time; and while an occasional peer will die, this is the prime of retired freedom.
    Reactions (these may be your private thoughts, not parts of a note)

    • She just reached her stride in retired life
    • I've lost a dear friend/member of --
    • I wish we'd had time to-- 
    • How sad for the grandkids 
    • A hard life took its toll
    Best Condolence Elements
  • Acknowledge the loss “(name) was someone I could ask for advice. I am so sorry.”
  • Acknowledge a quality of the survivor(s)  “You had a friendship that I admired."
  • Acknowledge a quality of the deceased “(name) was so good to the grand kids …”
  • Share a memory “I remember when (name) restored that '69 Camaro …"
  • Share a thought on how the deceased impacted your life "Her volunteer work inspired me to join ___ " 

  • 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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