Dear Abby: “Wants to Do the Right Thing” (April 18) asked about using email to thank those who donated to a fundraiser for her son, who has bone cancer. What is wrong with that?
I have been there. One of my twin boys was diagnosed with cancer at age 2. I was grateful for all the help my family and friends gave me, but I did not always have the time or energy to devote to writing thank-you cards.
You really have to have experienced this kind of long-term stress and trauma to understand. It takes all the strength you have to just get through each day without breaking down. For larger donations, I would write a card when I could or print some out on my computer. Sometimes I recruited a friend or family member to handle thank-you notes. People always ask, “What can I do?” Well, assign them this task!
Another way of thanking people was through a blog, like CaringBridge. These free websites were a great way to keep in touch with people and let them know what was going on. I often posted general notes of thanks there, then emailed everyone who contributed with a link to the site. The truth is, it was difficult to accept charity and help from others, and I often found myself overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support.
In New York
Dear Truly Thankful: Thank YOU for your heartfelt letter and helpful suggestions. I reminded “Wants” that writing personal thank-you notes was the proper thing to do, but not all readers agreed. Their comments:
Dear Abby: Any spare time that mom has needs to be spent with her family or taking care of herself. They are going through a very difficult time.
I believe that in this day and age, the majority of people would understand and not expect a thank-you note for their donation. So a quick email of thanks would be more than appreciated. Email is more acceptable now, especially among younger people. If this is all she has time for, it’s better than no thank-you at all.
In Winchester, Pa.
Dear Abby: To that mother of the child with cancer: Instead of writing thank-you notes to all the people who help you in the community, please spend that time with your son. Someday, return the favor with some other family’s child. Many families in our town cope with childhood cancer. We help each other. It is important that you spend every precious moment with him, not writing cards. We all understand.
Paying It Forward
In Clyde, Ohio
Dear Abby: You correctly advised “Wants” that a handwritten, personal note was in order. However, having found myself in this position, I sometimes first send out a quick “blanket” email to all the donors:
“Dear Friends and Family, you are great to contribute to our cause. Please forgive this email reply, but we want you to know right away how much your support means to us. You’ll be hearing from us personally as soon as possible.”
This acknowledges the generosity immediately, while relieving some stress for the writer at a busy time.
Dear Abby: Please tell “Wants” that her son should write some of the letters if he’s old enough. The notes should be to people he knows. Folks won’t expect a thank-you right away.
Dear Abby: Handwrite those notes. Make them brief. Following my wife’s death two years ago, I handwrote about 400 thank-yous to those who had sent cards and flowers or made donations. It was cathartic for me, and it recognized the efforts of those who contributed.
Doing the Right Thing
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.