Thursday, 7 January 2016

Please take the time.

A bit of a macabre post today.   Sorry but maybe it will prompt somebody out there, so worth saying.   I never gave this a thought until a reached a fairly ripe age (I sound like a well-matured Stilton cheese) but Christmas, and sitting all afternoon with friend M chatting about this very thing made me think it might be a good idea to write about it.

Over the years both M and I have moved around a bit.   M is a Londoner moved North on retirement.   I am a Lincolnshire lass moved around in Lincolnshire, then to Lichfield in Staffordshire for a few years, then to Wolverhampton in the West Midlands for seventeen years and finally to the Dales in North Yorkshire for almost the last thirty years (the longest I have lived anywhere by a long way).   Along the way I have made many friends.   My first husband and I played early musical instruments and performed in various early music groups - lots of friends there; we both taught - lots of friends there; lots of neighbours too.

How do we keep in touch?   Well, mainly through Christmas and Birthday cards - often with a letter inside.   And how I enjoy receiving them all and sitting after Christmas and reading through
them all again.   And how they bring back lovely memories.

But, as M and I were saying this afternoon, each year several cards no long appear.  You send a card but you don't receive one back. That is when the speculation begins.    Has the friend become ill, or moved away, or gone into care (remember we are all getting on a bit) - or perish the thought - have they died?   We shall never know.

I have about a dozen people I have lost contact with over the last couple of years or so.   We have been exchanging cards and letters at Christmas for years and suddenly - no more.   

So here is a suggestion.  All of these people will have left some kind of address book and my name (amongst many others probably) will be in it.   Is it too much to ask that whoever is clearing up their affairs could just send a card explaining why communication has stopped?   It would make such a different to many happy memories to have an ending rather than a sudden cut-off.     

Am I being unreasonable to ask such a thing?


28 comments:

Rachel said...

It may be asking a bit much. This may sound a little macabre but you can check the obituaries in the local paper of where they lived. For instance, my local paper, the Eastern Daily Press, has a long archive of death notices and these can easily be searched on line. A little bit "not very nice" maybe but it is one avenue that can be pursued if you want to.

Derek Faulkner said...

The problem with that Pat is what if it is a fairly lengthy address book and how will the person clearing up know friends from others.

Bovey Belle said...

I've often thought I would like my online friends to know what happened to me rather than a complete blogging silence . . . I shall tell my girls to put up suitable posts and go through my address book too.

Dawn McHugh said...

When mum and dad passed away I went through there email accounts and sent out a bulk email to everyone in there to say they passed away, I did move onto address books and sent a note to say they had passed away, I only ever got one response of thanks, so I dont think its something I would do again if the occasion arose.

littlemancat said...

This has happened to me also. One year a card and letter, and then nothing. I tried to contact those people on my mother's Christmas card list - yes, she had one - and did hear back from several.
I agree with the suggestion of researching obituaries online. In fact, I'm off to try now.

I enjoy your blog very much, thank you for your writings - always interesting!

Mary

A Heron's View said...

When my mother passed away I went through her address book and either sent a letter or made a phone call. Actually I preferred to send letters as they were easier on my emotions.
It is I believe only good manners to contact everyone that the deceased had contact with and I would like to think that it is done for me at my demise.

donna baker said...

I think we should all let our loved ones know what we wish them to do. I did find out about a close friend's death across the country by searching local news obituaries. We hadn't spoken is a few years and I wanted to know what could have happened as she was only 54.

Virginia said...

No, you are not! Know exactly what you mean. We are concerned that we haven't heard from a Canadian friend/acquaintance with whom we had exchanged Christmas cards and newsletters for many years. Her twin sister died of cancer a few years ago, and this woman was herself a breast cancer survivor, so of course we are wondering if 'it' finally got her too. And we have no way of finding out, as she had no family in Canada. I was caregiver to a maiden aunt, and after she died (suddenly, in late November) I went through her Christmas card list and wrote to all those she would have been getting cards from, so they knew before they had a card 'returned'. Much harder to "call off" were the charities she supported. One I rang THREE times to ask to have her taken off their list - finally I got quite rude and informed the secretary I would not ring again, and happily bin their material at both her house and mine if there was another communication to her!

A Brit in Tennessee said...

I feel the same way.
Unfortunately, I had first-hand experience of this very thing, this past Christmas.
Living on a military base in England, we made lovely friends and each Christmas over the last forty five years, we've kept in touch via Christmas cards and a letter.
This year, I sent my Christmas card and letter, but none were received back, which got me googling the internet and sadly found an obituary in our friends name.
She had passed away in July of 2015, I know they were a childless couple, and possibly didn't have anyone to make those calls or letters.
I've left a picture on her virtual memorial page of a teapot and cup of tea, served in the timeless china of Royal Albert Old Country Rose pattern, a pattern that was near and dear to her heart.
~Jo

potty said...

We sent letters to my Mother's address book 'friends'. She and Dad were great at keeping in touch with the Xmas card. The book had lots of names with new addresses marked in and a name crossed through when one 'half' died. I had several letters back and it felt the right thing to do. Regretfully I don't think that everyone now thinks of the local newspaper to record the passing of a relative, although I always read the announcements on line of our former local paper. Lesley

The Weaver of Grass said...

What really interesting comments so far and really different opinions too. Wonder what others will think.

Heather said...

This post comes at a very pertinent time for me. I have been exchanging cards with a one-time neighbour for over 50 years. I know her husband died last year and I know her daughter knows my address because she wrote informing me of her father's passing, but at Christmas I heard nothing. Now, do I write making enquiries, do I send a birthday card next week for the neighbour's birthday, or do I do nothing and see if she sends me one in March?

Joanne Noragon said...

We did this very thing when our mother passed. She was in touch with so many people; many were old neighbors we knew. It started with thinking we should inform our childhood next door neighbor, but when we opened the little address book, we knew we had to write to everyone of them.

Mac n' Janet said...

I worry when I stop hearing from people and always hope to hear that all is well.

Barbara Womack said...

I don't think you're asking too much.

While it would be terribly sad to hear that anyone had passed, it certainly would be better than the fear of the unknown.

Sarah Head said...

When my mother died nearly a year ago, my sister and I contacted many friends of my parents and put notices in the paper before the funeral. Afterwards I spent many hours with her address books writing individual letters to those who weren't able to attend. There were three people I didn't contact because, to be honest, as I was dealing with all the official tasks, wills and farm valuation, I didn't have a lot of energy and went into hospital for an operation in the middle of the year. This Christmas my father received several Christmas cards addressed to both of them plus one which included a note saying as there was only one name on the Christmas card she'd received she presumed my mother had died. Now I know I sent her a letter because I remember addressing the envelope, but she has either forgotten or the letter was lost. Luckily she subsequently telephoned my father and they had a long chat. The other Christmas card senders got another card from me with a little note telling them when my mother died. I will try to send another letter to the one who still doesn't know. I have done my best to keep everyone informed but it is hard. If I had not been around, my father would not have been able to tell anyone. He's never written letters and he finds writing anything very difficult. A friend has sent out their Christmas cards for the last eight years since my mother lost her sight. I would always say, get in touch if you're worried about someone. We thought my sister's godmother had died years ago because we never got any response to our Christmas letter yet we called in on them after registering my mother's death and found them both alive and relatively well. She is 97 and has dementia but he was fine - just too overwhelmed with caring to communicate with anyone outside the immediate family.

Mary said...

These exact same thoughts were on our minds today as we re-read our cards and Christmas letters - about 80!
Several we have corresponded with did not send cards this year - a couple were in England the remainder here in the US. I know some folks are cutting out cards due to postage costs - the UK rates are now horrific. It's sad to not hear from them though and I am concerned there may have been at least one death in the UK.
If I die first hubby knows to write a notice on the blog - so you will know! Others who don't read my blog will I guess get a phone call. There are a few who won't care anyway - until my Will is read and then they just might be sorry they didn't behave, hmmmm! Talk about macabre - there I've said it and, like most people our age, I have no fear!!!

Take care, stay warm and dry Pat - Mary

Cro Magnon said...

When my father died, I did exactly that. I went through his address book and sent a short note to everyone he knew. I also received masses of replies.

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

I contacted everyone in my mum's address book when she died. There were very few names that hadn't been crossed out as they too had died. I knew everyone that I contacted, mostly by phone, which made the task easier .
My daughters know to put it on my blog when I go (if I'm still blogging when it happens) There have been one or two blogs that I have followed that have stopped suddenly and I have wondered what has happened to them as there has been no indication that they might be giving up their blog.
Gill

Gwil W said...

Obviously people who stop sending Christmas cards are not dead. It is a dying tradition due to high postage costs and free email. But there lots of other reasons too. They might be in a care home, or have Alzheimer's, or moved to Australia or a 101 other reasons. I wouldn't fret about it. Just get on with your own life and enjoy your current friends. They sound a lovely bunch.

Midmarsh John said...

I once had the embarrassment of finding out I had upset a widow when I sent a card addressed to a couple not knowing the husband had passed away.

Linda Metcalf said...

I have so many blogs I'm attached to and enjoy so much. Including yours by the way. When you don't hear from these blogs for over a year you think the worst. One blog I followed had a woman with cancer. Her daughter sent out a final note on the blog that her lovely mom had passed.

jinxxxygirl said...

Oh no ... I don't think you are being unreasonable... although the younger generation might disagree... Also have to keep in mind that i love to write letters... Although in their defense i imagine at a time like that..going thru an address book is probably the least on their list of worries... But it would be the right thing to do, the kind thing, the thoughtful thing... the thing that gets set aside for more pressing matters..Maybe as we get older we should make a list of people we would like contacted in the case of our death... perhaps put it with our will...Hugs! deb

The Weaver of Grass said...

Hmm! Such an interesting response to my question. Quite a wide ranging one too. But I would point out that I love Christmas cards and send - and receive - well over a hundred. The ones I receive come from all over the country and also abroad and scanning all the newspapers as Rachel suggests would be too hard a task - although in theory - if they are all fairly local - I think it is a good idea and one I would never have thought of. Maybe in the long run Gwil's response is best. Thanks for your contribution anyway.

Dartford Warbler said...

I remember going through my Mother`s address book and doing this after she had died. So many of her friends were from days when she had lived in different counties and there is no other way that they would have known.

Polly said...

I don't think you're being unreasonable, it's natural to want to know if friends are still with us. When my mother died, aged 94 all her friends had died before her but she kept in touch with daughters of those friends. I couldn't find contact details for one lady who had moved and I felt upset that I couldn't let her know. My daughters know all my friends and their addresses are in my address book.

jkmorgangirl said...

My beloved mother in law and aunt both passed in November of the same year, I had their mail forwarded to me. Both had birthdays early in the new year. Each time they received a note or card for holidays or birthday, I responded to let the sender know that they'd died. I received so many nice responses thanking me for taking the time to let them know. If I remember, I sent over 40 cards.

Morning's Minion said...

I have also wondered about bloggers who suddenly 'disappear.' Sometimes a blogger puts up a notice that he/she has decided to discontinue posting for whatever reason. Often life changes mean that there is no time to spare or circumstances are such that they need to remain within the family circle rather than out there for all to read.
Often we have exchanged comments or even emails with various bloggers and come to think of them as long distance friends. When the blog posts cease without warning I do wonder what has happened. It would be thoughtful if a family member could write a brief 'last post' if illness or incapacity [or death] has overtaken the writer.
I know of some who have moved away from the blog format to quicker methods of 'social media' such as Face Book--others are simply 'gone away.'