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An etiquette question

MadMom's picture

I normally just "go with the gut" when it comes to etiquette questions, but have come up against one recently which has me puzzled.  I think I mentioned that one of our neighbor's sons was struck by lightning.  He was in intensive care at the hospital, and even though I had never met the neighbors or the son, I felt I should send a card.  My gut instinct, though, was not to, so I didn't.  I think I was afraid that if I sent a "hope he gets well" card and he passed away before it got there, it would only add to their pain.  Well, the worst happened, and he died last Friday without ever regaining consciousness. 


Now, what do I do?  Would it be inappropriate to send a sympathy card to someone I've never met?  Should I just let it drop?  All the houses around here are on five acre lots, so it's not exactly like we would even be nodding acquaintances.  I want to do the right thing, but my gut instinct is that to send a card would be akin to forcing a relationship with people, and the last thing they want now is a new friend. 




Not One More Day!
Not One More Dime! Not One More Life! Not One More Lie!

End the Occupation of Iraq -- Bring the Troops Home Now!

And Take Care of Them When They Get Here!
shywoodlandcreature's picture

(post #46015, reply #1 of 24)

Yes, send a card. It's not forcing friendship, it's simply acknowledging a tragedy, and expressing care. You might also make a donation in his name to the local burn unit, or the hospital's pediatric ward, or whatever is appropriate.





"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."
George Orwell, 1984

deejeh's picture

(post #46015, reply #2 of 24)

But it may be of some comfort to them to know that people they don't even know are thinking of them at this terrible time.  You probably don't even have to go into much detail about who you are, but just that you are sorry for their loss.


deej

Marcia's picture

(post #46015, reply #3 of 24)

I agree about sending a card or perhaps a note on nice writing paper. Explain who you are, and just tell them that you're so sorry for their loss. It's should be much appreciated, although the poor things are likely in shock at the moment. Many folks save cards, etc., and read them over when things have settled down.


What a tragedy - it makes one feel fortunate, doesn't it?


 

mer's picture

(post #46015, reply #4 of 24)

keep it simple and send a note.

SallyBR1's picture

(post #46015, reply #5 of 24)

I agree with the others. Send a card, keep it very simple

Gosh, I would have a hard time knowing what to write, but you are smart - will know exactly what to say

 


 


"Her shimmyshaky is much better than her chimichurri"
(Glenys, June 2006)

BoofyQ's picture

(post #46015, reply #6 of 24)

A short note of sympathy will be appreciated.

Keep in mind they probably don't know who you are either, but at some point if you meet, they may recall your kindness to them at a very difficult time. You can never go wrong being polite and friendly. :-)

shelly's picture

(post #46015, reply #7 of 24)

Most definitely send them some form of note or a card.  We all need a little sympathy at one time or another.


shelly

Jean's picture

(post #46015, reply #9 of 24)

Sure send a sympathy card and sign it with your name and 'your new neighbors at your address'.  No other explanation necessary.



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wisekaren's picture

(post #46015, reply #8 of 24)

I agree with the others -- send a card. You can even address the awkwardness by starting off with something like, "I know we've never met, but...."

I have a dear friend, Greg, who was struck by lightning years ago -- and lived. He was out jogging when a terrific storm came out of nowhere and he just ran under a tree without really thinking about the danger. Another guy happened to be watching this freak storm from his window and saw the lightning hit Greg! He called 911, and the EMTs revived Greg. But when he got to the hospital, they had no idea who he was (he was alive but unconscious). By sheer chance (again!), one of the ER doctors thought he recognized Greg as the bartender at a bar his brother frequented and called him to come make an identification. He was right. Greg made a full recovery, but it was as if his brain's "hard drive" hadn't been backed up and data was lost: He could remember everything up until he went to bed the night before the accident, but he couldn't recall a single thing from that day itself. His main physical injuries seemed to consist of agonizing muscle pain from having all his muscles (including the involuntary ones!) go into spasm at once.

Karen

Ricks503's picture

(post #46015, reply #10 of 24)

I would send the card.  Not too much detail, but a short note maybe.

1 - measure the board twice, 2 - cut it once, 3 - measure the space where it is supposed to go        4 - get a new board and go back to step 1

 

 

" There'll be no living with her now" - Captain Jack Sparrow

evelyn's picture

(post #46015, reply #11 of 24)

I, too, would send a note/card. I think it would be a lovely gesture in such a painful time for them - caring, thoughtful. We don't have to know someone to feel their pain and express our sympathy and compassion. They'll feel better and you will, too.

 

In life, learn the rules so that you know how to break them properly.
Cissytoo's picture

(post #46015, reply #12 of 24)

Here's another vote for sending a card with a note in it.  All of the responses that you have posted to your FC friends here have sounded caring and sensitive.

MadMom's picture

(post #46015, reply #13 of 24)

Thank you all - I think sometimes when we ask for advice, we either hear what we want to hear (thinking "aha, I was right") or we disagree with what we're told ("what do they know?")  In this case, I have to say that all of your advice, although it doesn't agree with what I wanted to hear, is sound, and I will definitely send a card.



Not One More Day!
Not One More Dime! Not One More Life! Not One More Lie!

End the Occupation of Iraq -- Bring the Troops Home Now!

And Take Care of Them When They Get Here!

chiquiNO's picture

(post #46015, reply #14 of 24)

I ditto Jean's advice....definitely send a short note.

Chiqui from way down yonder in New Orleans

 

Marcia's picture

(post #46015, reply #15 of 24)

Agreed, about the short note.

unbaked's picture

(post #46015, reply #16 of 24)

Albeit late, my vote is for a very simple card with a brief note in it.


"Please accept our heartfelt sympathies for your terrible loss.


Your neighbors, Willie Rae and Sharon"


The address on the envelope will tell them which neighbors you are, right?


Or something simple like that. After all, no way of knowing if they are religous if you don't know them.


When I was growing up, even if we didn't know a new neighbor, the covered dish was de rigeur in our neighborhood, but maybe that's passe these days.


'The desire to make an effort to improve the lives of those around you does not yet live in everyone, but it does live in everyone who cooks.' -Bill Penzey, one magazine

'The desire to make an effort to improve the lives of those around you does not yet live in everyone, but it does live in everyone who cooks.' -Bill Penzey, one magazine

ouzo's picture

(post #46015, reply #17 of 24)

What a tragedy.  You are kind to think of sending a card.  I agree with the others who have said yes to the card. 


Someone mentioned that some people save and re-read the cards.  My DF did the same after my DM passed away.   Eventually, you might meet these people.  Your note will be appreciated.

  No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted - Aesop, The Lion & the mouse

Frankie's picture

(post #46015, reply #18 of 24)

I read all the other replies and closed the thread. Then I came across it again and continued to ponder the question.

Are we talking about an immediate next door neighbor or someone who lives (way- 10+ acres) down the street?

If it is NOT a next door neighbor, to whom you have never been introduced, I think you would be intruding into a very private affair. Yes, sympathies are nice but have little meaning when coming from a total stranger.

If it IS a next door neighbor, regardless of introductions, you should send a note.

If you do send a note/ card it should not be a Hallmark issue. Fold some nice stationary in half and scribe a few well chosen words. Do NOT write "We have not met but..." Write something simple and kind. Sign your name. Your return address (clearly noted on the envelope) will tell them from whence you came.

Hand delivering it to their mailbox is a nice personal touch.

Different strokes for different folks.

Frankie


Experiment with the placing of the ingredients on the plate. Try the mozzarella on the left, the tomato in the middle, the avocado on the right. Have fun. Then decide it goes tomato, mozzarella, avocado. Anything else looks stupid.

Richard E. Grant as Simon Marchmont - Posh Nosh


Flay your Suffolk bought-this-morning sole with organic hand-cracked pepper and blasted salt. Thrill each side for four minutes at torchmark haut. Interrogate a lemon. Embarrass any tough roots from the samphire. Then bamboozle till it's al dente with that certain je ne sais quoi.

Arabella Weir as Minty Marchmont - Posh Nosh


MadMom's picture

(post #46015, reply #19 of 24)

The neighbor lives two houses from us, but that is 10+ acres away.  There are three houses on the cul de sac which runs beside our property, and they live in the middle one at the end of the short street.  I'm leaning toward a short note, much like unbaked suggested.  Let's face it.  It shouldn't be offensive, and if they choose to ignore it, nothing lost, but I will feel better about it. 



Not One More Day!
Not One More Dime! Not One More Life! Not One More Lie!

End the Occupation of Iraq -- Bring the Troops Home Now!

And Take Care of Them When They Get Here!

Frankie's picture

(post #46015, reply #20 of 24)

Weird, I missed Unbaked's reply. I must have double-clicked while scrolling. I think she's said it quite well.

Cul de sac = Private community - community being the operative word here.

Go with your gut. It will make you feel better and, in this case, is the proper thing to do.

F


Experiment with the placing of the ingredients on the plate. Try the mozzarella on the left, the tomato in the middle, the avocado on the right. Have fun. Then decide it goes tomato, mozzarella, avocado. Anything else looks stupid.

Richard E. Grant as Simon Marchmont - Posh Nosh


Flay your Suffolk bought-this-morning sole with organic hand-cracked pepper and blasted salt. Thrill each side for four minutes at torchmark haut. Interrogate a lemon. Embarrass any tough roots from the samphire. Then bamboozle till it's al dente with that certain je ne sais quoi.

Arabella Weir as Minty Marchmont - Posh Nosh


pamilyn's picture

(post #46015, reply #21 of 24)

Just my .02.....send a note.

The purpose of Art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls

The purpose of Art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls

Rhea's picture

(post #46015, reply #22 of 24)

...send that card, and like mentioned ,a donation to a burn unit would be a great idea...if he was in school then there may be an award or type of recognition at the school that may be created for future students in his memory ....a donation there would, I am sure do wonders....


Even though you are acres apart, I know from the advice that you are always giving to all of us, you have a HUGE heart.....one of my clients husband just passed away and I happened to see the obituary in the paper....I called her and just asked if I could take her for coffee....I was not sure if I should have called or not and when I did not hear back I felt like a heel....


When she returned my call she told me she was so overwhelmed that I had thought enough to just call her,....send that card....your act of kindness will mean wonders!!!! Trust me!


 a wise woman once said you have to kiss alot of frogs before you find your prince.. my lips are sore...p.s. but I finally found one!!!

I can't even afford the lifestyle I don't want...

Jillsifer's picture

(post #46015, reply #23 of 24)

(Late but . . . )


Yup.


No gesture of kindness, especially under such awful circumstances, is ever extended in vain. I can't begin to imagine how much they're hurting, and I think most people ARE comforted by knowing that others--even complete strangers--care about them.


 


 


 


Overheard at Disneyland: "What time is the 9:00 parade?"

Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.

-- Washington Irving

MadMom's picture

(post #46015, reply #24 of 24)

I mailed it today.  We had the mother of all storms yesterday, rain, thunder, and of course, lots of lightning.  Everytime we heard a big strike, I thought of that poor woman and how it must be tearing her apart. 


Speaking of rain, it rained horribly yesterday, then we had a sort of slow drenching rain all day today, and tomorrow we're due for the remnants of Ernesto.  Willie Ray says he's going to put off installing a sprinkler system for at least a year, LOL. 




Not One More Day!
Not One More Dime! Not One More Life! Not One More Lie!

End the Occupation of Iraq -- Bring the Troops Home Now!

And Take Care of Them When They Get Here!