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Dear Annie: Acknowledging sympathy messages

A condolence card and sympathy flowers

Dear Annie: Although I am very grateful for all the condolence cards and messages of sympathy I have received since my mum’s funeral, do I need to respond to every single one of them? – BL

Annie says: Absolutely not. The only reason to respond is if you feel it would support you in some way by replying to things that have been said in the letter. Many people find it soothing to remember their deceased loved one in writing, with friends and family, sharing memories.

It can also sometimes be easier to process difficult thoughts and feelings in writing, rather than talking. Sometimes it’s also just helpful having something to do in the early weeks and months after the funeral. But the important thing to remember is that condolence letters aren’t sent with an expectation of response and if they are, it is not your responsibility to meet that expectation.

So I would really encourage you to let go of that concern and to allow yourself to read these letters of support, and really take in their words of love; really let them do what they’re meant to do – grieve with you.

If you’ve lost someone close to you, or been affected by a bereavement, psychotherapist Annie Broadbent is here to help. If you have a question for her to answer in this column, write to her at DearAnnie@funeralzone.com

About Annie

Annie Broadbent is a trained psychosynthesis counsellor, with specialist experience working with the bereaved. As a therapist she explores the mind, body, feelings and spirit, working with individuals in a way that is most appropriate for them.

She is the author of bestselling self-help book We Need to Talk About Grief, inspired by personal experiences of living through bereavement, including her own. Whilst writing her book, Annie volunteered at St Christopher's Hospice and has given a number of talks on issues around grief, bereavement and mental health.