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  • Caron Levis

Kids Caring Cards: writing to someone you care about after a loss or just to share your love.

“He brought her visitors’ notes.” -Ida, Always

To honor the 5th year of Ida, Always being on bookshelves, Charles Santoso made special cards for readers that you can download & print for free! You can use them for anything you like. (click on the photo or the pdf at bottom) Thank you for caring about Gus & Ida!

Create A Caring Card after a loss, diagnosis, or to celebrate a friendship.

In Ida, Always, Gus brings Ida visitors’ notes when she is ill and dying; this was inspired by real life. The Central Park Zoo received letters from people all over the world who wanted Gus to know they were thinking about him after Ida died, and more letters arrived after Gus died too.

“This week the fans turned out one last time. They left gifts and flowers and they left notes. Placed alongside a toy polar bear with a halo, one letter read: Goodbye Gus! You were my favorite New Yorker! We will always remember you.

KC ” -A Eulogy for Gus,Central Park’s Polar Bear Man of Mystery by Malcolm Jones, The Daily Beast. 8/29/13

Sometimes, we want to send a note to someone we care about because they are sick, or because someone they care about has died. Other times we just want to say we miss them or are grateful they are our friend. Kids are great letter creators: give them paper, crayons, and off they go to make something that anyone would love to receive. But in some circumstances, kids like adults, don’t know where to start. There’s no one way to write a note to someone you care about! So, if you want to send a note, but it’s feeling challenging to start, below are some things you can think about and try.

1. Writing a Condolence or Remembering Card: It can feel hard to write somebody after someone has died. We want them to feel better, to help, to say the right thing. The truth is grief is a very big feeling that is personal and different for everybody so there is no “right” or “best” thing to say, and that’s okay. here are just a few ideas to get you started.

o A Condolence Card is a way to let someone who has just had someone close to them die that you are thinking about them and that you care. It can also be a way to share that you miss and are thinking of the person who died too. It is a way to share big feelings of loss and love.

o A Remembering Card (this is what I am choosing to call it) is a card you may want to send to someone on a day that might bring up a lot of memories and feelings: like the birth date of someone who died, or a special holiday, or momentous/milestone moments (like a weddings, graduations, or other.)

o What to write? Here are just some ways to offer your condolences & remembrances.

o Thinking of You message: When someone dies it can feel lonely, knowing people are thinking of you can be comforting. Make up your own words, draw, or try these:

  • I am thinking and caring about you.

  • I am sorry for your loss. I want you to know I care about you.

  • You are in my heart.

  • Draw the feeling you have for them.

o Memory Share: is a way to share a positive, comforting, or even funny memory of the person who has died to help celebrate their life. It also lets your friend/relative know you are someone they can share their memories with if they want.

  • I remember when [the person who died] said _____

  • I remember when [the deceased] went ____

  • I remember how they/we____[something they did or you dd together: smiled, hugged, made soggy pancakes, ran really fast, etc.]

  • When I remember our good times together, I feel __________.

2. Writing to a friend with a Big Illness: Sometimes we may get the very hard news that someone we care about has a kind of sickness that won’t heal, like Ida did. One word for the Big Feelings that come when we know someone we care for will die, is anticipatory grief. It is important to care for ourselves when this is happening. Part of that is to support the person who is ill. One way to do this is to send them notes. This is different than writing a Get-Well card, but we can still send a lot of wishes Some ideas:

  • Let them know you are sorry they are ill and are thinking and caring about them.

  • Send them a drawing and/or describe a place that makes you feel calm.

  • Send them a silly joke or drawing. There may be days the person does not want to laugh, but there will also be days a laugh is welcome.

  • Share something you have enjoyed about spending time with them.

  • Share something they did that made you feel happy or interested or impressed!

  • Draw or tell them about something interesting you saw, heard, tasted, or smelled today.

3. Celebrating a Splendid friend, anytime: Something we can’t do enough is let the people we care about know we are grateful for them! Anything you do will be wonderful, so the below is just for inspiration.

o Write, I am so glad we are friends!

o Share what you appreciate about them in drawing or words.

o A quality your friend has: kindness, cheerfulness, humor, honesty, bravery.

o Something they have done that is brave, interesting, funny.

o Something you do together: I like when we…

Notes on Condolence & Big Illness Cards:

· You don’t need to make it all better in your note, or at all. In fact, it is very important to let people know that it’s okay to be sad when someone has a terminal illness or dies.

· Be careful about sayings like “time heals all wounds,” “She’s in a better place now,” “it was his time.” These are things you should never assume will feel helpful because people don’t feel the same way about this. (A great book about how words can land after a loss is Death Is Stupid by Anastasia Higginbotham.)

· Keep in mind that different cultures have different ways of supporting someone grieving. Learning about this may help guide you be more mindfully supportive.

· Not all relationships are easy, and this is important to acknowledge and allow for.

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