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A Thomas Kinkade sympathy card available at Hallmark.

A Thomas Kinkade sympathy card available at Hallmark.

The June 6 episode of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour brought with it a discussion of sympathy cards. Glen Weldon in particular has some strong opinions on this topic. You can listen here; it’s about 20 minutes into the program.

When someone we know dies, I think our first instinct is to head to Hallmark to the sympathy section. As Glen points out, the cards don’t have much variation; a soft picture of mountains or flowers along with some sentiments on memories, sadness, and moving on. The cards can quickly become cliche.

Is buying a sympathy card merely a box you check off when you hear of someone’s passing? Do you go to the store and pick out any old card, or do you try to find just the right card to express how you feel and add some personal, handwritten thoughts to it? Do you bypass the sympathy card altogether and instead send a handwritten note, flowers, or some other expression?