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Whether it's just talking about their dad, looking at photographs, sending a helium balloon to rise nonchalantly toward heaven; each year the date stands out somehow. First of all, there is something especially significant about a decade.

Second, it was the year I decided Ellie and Carrie, now ages 16 and 12, were old enough to read some of the hundreds of letters I received after Jay's death.

So why is our biggest goal simply to fill up a notecard or piece of stationery with enough words to get the whole exercise over with?

The next time you put pen to paper to express your sympathy, focus on a simple story, recollections of a brief encounter, a loving or funny memory.

You will find a grateful recipient at the final resting place of that correspondence. It was the 10th anniversary of my husband, Jay's death, which seems as inconceivable as I write this now as it did on that Saturday morning in January 1998.

My daughters and I always remember the date in some small way.

Because of the public nature of my job, I received many letters from total strangers.


"Condolences." No wonder so many of us are at a loss when dealing with loss.

The right words can be such a salve for raw, unabating pain.



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