A few years ago I lost my dad, and a year and a half ago, my mom.  Even though I'm a grown adult, at times, I can feel like an orphaned child.  It's destabilizing to be without one's parents in the world.

Challenging times come in many forms: the death of a loved one, illness, the loss of a job, and a breakup or divorce are just a few ways we experience hardship in life.  While difficulties are personal, one thing is universal: we all experience them.  For this reason, they can often be times of great connection, if we remain open.

One of the things I find very difficult is when someone close to me is ill.  It upsets me greatly.  It's my tendency to help and try my best to alleviate as much of their suffering as I can. 

While many of us try to help through actions, it can also be a caring response to write and send a card.  Perhaps you know someone who's been under the weather or about to go through a serious medical procedure, such as surgery.  Words of encouragement, support and especially love can be healing.

Likewise, when someone you know is going through a personal and difficult challenge in their career or any of their relationships.  They may be thinking about breaking up with a partner, going through the process of a divorce, or dealing with a difficult family member or friend. 

Sometimes we're the support for someone close to us, even though their challenge is something we've never experienced ourselves.  Other times, we connect to someone who's going through something we know all too well from our own life experience.  In cases like this, we may find ourselves sending a card to someone whom we may not be especially close to, but with whom we empathize.

It can be life changing to receive a sincere handwritten card from someone who expresses compassion and may even share a genuine understanding of your pain.  However, even if you've never experienced the same thing, being willing to listen and sit with another during a difficulty can be enough.  Often, this is more than enough, especially since so few are able to tolerate another's pain if they haven't worked through their own.

Do you know of anyone suffering at the moment?  Maybe it's a family member or close friend.  It could just as easily be a neighbour, co-worker, or acquaintance.  Whoever or whatever the challenge, do you have it in you to extend a few kind words?  Perhaps you can share a funny story with a family member of someone who's died.  Or take some soup, tissues and a card to a person who's caught a cold or flu and lives alone.  Sometimes it's these small, quiet acts of kindness that have a bigger impact in life than grand gestures in the spotlight.

We grew up with the tradition of sending greeting cards in our family.  When my siblings and I sifted through papers in my parents' home, we came across many greeting cards that they saved.  Some bring tears to our eyes, some make us laugh, others surprise us with the words we wrote ourselves.  My parents kept them all and re-reading them is nostalgic.  Words from the heart, written in a greeting card.  It's such a lovely opportunity to express how we feel and share it.

Do you save your greeting cards?  Have you ever come across an old one that you received... or that you sent?  Has your handwriting changed? 

We hope you take some time this week to appreciate a greeting card: either one you receive, give, or looking back at one from the past.

January 30, 2024 — Antoinette D'Angelo

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