Q: I’m a newlywed and dealing with the loss of my Dad. His funeral was a few months after the wedding and a lot of guests attended both.
I hope you don’t think my question is trivial, as it is important to me. I am struggling with the timing of my wedding thank you cards. I sincerely want to thank all of my guests. My Mum is sending out thank you cards for all the sympathy cards, flowers and funeral donations that we received, and she is hoping to send them this week. I have discussed it with my Mum and she says it doesn’t look good to send these two cards, with two very different tones, at the same time. I understand this, but my perspective is that my wedding was an event, just as my Dad’s passing was an event, and we can thank people all the same.
I am also worried that the guests receiving my thank you cards might see it as insensitive of me to be thinking back to my wedding when there has been a death in between! I thought about putting a little note in each card acknowledging how meaningful it was to us to have had Dad at the wedding. The wording has to be thoughtful, I know.
I would really appreciate any advice you have on this subject.
A: Dear L,
Not to get too philosophical on you, but, that’s sort of the nature of life. Tragic, heartrending things happen. And so do jubilant, wonderful things. You can have feelings of one kind about the first, and entirely different feelings about the second, and all of those thoughts and emotions can coexist at exactly the same time.
Loss is a funny sort of thing because of the way we process grief, and how that sometimes works out to feel a little like guilt or shame. Guilt that you’re still here and your loved one isn’t. Shame when you’re using your time and energy to focus on something other than your loss. It sometimes can feel like a disservice to someone’s memory when we’re just enjoying ourselves—as if that’s not respectful or fair to them, or like we don’t deserve those brief moments of relief. What I’m saying is that’s all sort of silly. You’re allowed to think back fondly on your wedding day even when things are at their worst. In fact, that’s a pretty fantastic idea.
So, yes. You can send out thank you notes full of appreciation for your guests, their help, their presence, and their gifts, and that won’t in any way detract from grieving your loss. You don’t need to weight your gratitude with acknowledgment of your dad’s passing. And I’d even suggest that you don’t need to worry about spacing your thanks far enough from your mom’s.
That’s the thing; you don’t need to. But in this specific instance, I’d tread a bit more carefully around her requests. Write out those thank you cards right now while you’re feeling grateful and motivated to do it, and then maybe shelve them for a few weeks before dropping them in the mail. Like I said, grief is a funny sort of thing, and you can give your mom room to handle hers while still thanking your guests.
Your loved ones know that you’re happy about your wedding and you’re sad about your father. The one emotion doesn’t negate the other, and thanking your loved ones won’t get in the way of either of them.
Team Practical, do other events in the family impact how you handle the wedding? Is it ever a bad time to say, “thank you”?
Photo from Oakland Bakes.
If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!