Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Creative Condolence: Make a Card in 4 Steps

After my I Survey the Racks post about good retail sources for sympathy cards, a reader remarked, "You left out one card source:  make it yourself." And he was right!

I had made my own card this winter, after a neighbor's sudden death.

Margaret's patio was home to a couple of fragrant rose bushes. Their vibrant color called out to passersby and if 'Peggy' happened to be out, the magnetic pull soon had every chair occupied.

After her simple funeral on a gray February day, I thought of those roses. The bushes had been gifts from children and whispered, "I love you, Mom," every time she saw them. They stood on sunny corners and received no pampering.
Farmington Community Library

Peg pampered no one-- those days retired when she hung up her apron after 40 years waitressing--many of which were at the old Botsford Inn.

I thought of the many visits I'd had with this strong, West Virginia born Hungarian. She had a quick, sharp laugh, and could skate from a glowing compliment to an "excuse my French" complaint. Ask her to tell you a story

Don't Rush Your Condolence Note.

The Condolence Coach highly recommends a period of digestion after the hubub of a funeral. My post Don't Rush Your Condolence explained how a little time helps you thresh the harvest of images, stories, eulogies, even service music into a memorable note to the family.

Making a card is a meditative process.

This may take you back to Art 101 because "found" imagery is such an easy way to make expressive collage art. During a college internship, I worked with incarcerated teens on a poetry writing project. I brought in stacks of magazines and the kids created simple but highly expressive posters with photo and text collages. 

Whether you are "going inside" or "letting the inside out," crafting on-the-fly is fun and personally satisfying. I believe it can be more liberating than kit-based crafting but it is up to the individual. In any event, making your own sympathy card is a meditative process to explore your own sense of loss. 

Thinking about those roses and Peg's welcoming patio, I remembered a stack of postcards I'd won in a raffle. They seemed to be a study of doors (a metaphorical image I love,) and each entry was bedecked with welcoming touches--especially flowers.
I chose the card with the brightest rose bush, and knew I was on the right track for a tribute to Peggy.

Scissors, colored paper, a glue stick... my card didn't require much. Card craft is a very popular hobby and a visit to a craft store will overwhelm you with methods for embellishment.  If you're adventurous--go for it!

My simple technique was to:
  1. trim the postcard image
  2. fold the sheet of paper in half
  3. trim the paper, with my postcard as a size guide, allowing for a narrow border of paper to show around the image
  4. placing the paper "cover" so that it would open at the bottom, I glued the image on the center of the paper.

Remember, it's ultimately about the note.

I suppose you’d have to call this Step 5, because once the card construction was completed, I drafted my note on plain paper. when satisfied, I rewrote my condolence on the inside card panel.  
  • I spoke of Peg's welcoming patio
  • her rose bushes and what they meant to her
  • her quick laugh
  • I stated how I will miss those impromptu visits
  • I acknowledged her caregiving son's years of vigilance
  • and noted how he inspired my family  
Are you inspired to make a card? 
Share this post with a friend--and get together for a card crafting hour! Thanks for caring!

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