• Rebecca Feinglos Planchard

No Thank You

The Untouched Thank-You Notes

One of the seemingly endless tasks of my time on Grieve Leave is sorting through an infinite pile of stuff: my late father's stuff, his boxes of my late mother's stuff, his boxes of his parents' stuff…I have one box of like five dead people's diplomas at the moment that I have no idea what to do with, for example.

In sorting through one part of the pile the other day, I happened upon a stack of pristine, crisp white thank-you notes the funeral home provided to us when my father died in 2020. They read "The family of Dr. Mark Neil Feinglos wishes to express deep appreciation and sincere thanks for your kind expression of sympathy." What a perfectly-crafted note of grief-stricken gratitude. All I had to do was sign them, stamp them, and put them in the mailbox.

But they're untouched. I never sent any. Not one thank-you note. People sent us such kind tributes and donations and flowers to express their love for my father and their sadness for his loss, and I sent them absolutely nothing back.

I couldn't do it.

At the time my thinking was this: if I send thank-you notes, that would mean my father was actually dead. If I never send them, maybe it isn’t true. But of course he was dead. I buried him. There was no, logic, here. Only grief.

There was something about writing thank-you notes, the trauma of putting actual pen to actual paper, that I couldn't muster. Writing his obituary? Fine. But sending a hand-written thank-you note crossed a line for me.

So I didn't send any. Instead, I tucked them in a box and stuffed them in the closet where I wouldn't have to deal with them.

I can't throw them out (I don’t know why), but I still can't bring myself to send them– mostly now out of embarrassment for my complete lack of southern manners in missing the socially appropriate window of time for a note. Which means that for now, those thank-yous will live on in Stuff Purgatory.

Grieve on.

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