Monthly Archives: June 2014

What to Say in a Sympathy Card After a Pet Dies

“… what we have enjoyed, we can never lose … all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” ~Helen Keller

Jaworksi and Virginia around 2008

Jaworski and Virginia, ca. 2008

The last month has been a little bit rough for me because my cat Virginia has been having some health problems. She will be 18 in August, so it’s not that it’s surprising that she’s in failing health, but she’s experiencing pretty much the same symptoms (and same condition) that my other elderly cat, Jaworski, succumbed to last year. As Yogi Berra would say, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

So I pretty much know what the eventual outcome of all this will be. The only question is when. I don’t mean to be morbid here, just realistic. I’d rather write this now, while I still have her company to enjoy – and she still is the sweetest little cat I know. OK, I must confess, when she jumps on my head at 3 a.m. and starts chewing on my hair because she wants breakfast, I do have other feelings towards her. But aside from that, I am so thankful that, when I naïvely went to a rescue group on a New Year’s Day so long ago, not really knowing what to look for in a cat, that they handed me Virginia and Jaworski and said, “here, they’re ready to be adopted.”

Virginia, June 2014

Virginia, June 2014

So what do you do when someone you know loses a pet? I know some people, particularly those who have never owned pets, may not really “get” how very important these companions can be in the lives of their pet parents. They may think or say things like, “they’re just animals, it’s not like they’re humans.” (I know, I’ve had someone say this to me.) And maybe that’s true for some owners. Maybe for them, the pet / person bond isn’t as strong as that between people. I think that may be true particularly in busy households where the pet, unfortunately, almost becomes an afterthought.

But for me, and most other pet owners I know, the connection is very strong. Call them what you will, fur babies, four-footed children, or simply faithful companions, but there is no denying that their passing always leaves a big hole in their owners’ hearts. Sending a card to let your family member or friend know you sympathize with their loss will acknowledge their grief – a grief some in our society will scoff at – and help them with the healing process.

Ah, now the tough part……what to say……. Here are some ideas:

  1. Just let them know they are in your thoughts at this time and that you understand their need to grieve: “Keeping you close to my heart at this difficult time”, “I know how much you’ll miss having [Fluffy] as part of your life”
  2. Being a pet parent is a big responsibility – and in many ways thankless. Particularly if the pet was an adopted rescue or stray, remind them what a difference they made in the life of their friend: “[Spot] couldn’t have asked for a better forever home.”
  3. If you knew the pet personally, make reference to a good memory about them: “I smile every time I think of how loudly [Patches] snored. He was such a content kitty.”
  4. If you’re totally at a loss for words, you can add a quote to the card (like the one I used at the start of this post) or a Bible passage, such as Psalms 22:24 (For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help).   And, while your pet parent friend has probably already heard it, the Rainbow Bridge poem may be appropriate to share with them as well.

If you are reading this post in anticipation of sending a sympathy card to someone who has just lost a pet, I’m hoping this paragraph is unnecessary, but I’ll add it just in case.  As for what not to say, just use some common sense.  For example, don’t suggest that getting a replacement will help them heal.  You certainly wouldn’t say that to someone who had just lost their spouse!  Besides, there is no “replacement” for a pet.  There may be other pets, but one can never take the place of another.

OK, enough on this sad subject.  I promise, next post will be cheery!


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What to Say in a Retirement Card

My second cousin retired a few months back from a job she held for over 40 years.

Greeting Card with Enjoy Sentiment

Greeting Card with Enjoy Sentiment (all images copyright Stampin’ Up!)

By the way, and the archivist / genealogist in me finds this interesting, I checked out a site at to figure out the exact nature of our relationship – second cousins –because we share the same great-grandfather. The site has a very good description of how all those confusing relationships can be figured out – daughter of my mom’s cousin – and a nifty chart to help. But I digress….

Needless to say, retirement is a BIG step in life so a celebratory card was in order. I have a stamp that I’ve found myself using a lot lately; it is just one word: enjoy (That doesn’t capture the font of the stamp – that’s something truly unique to Stampin’ Up!,the company whose products I use almost exclusively in my card creations) but it does convey the sentiment.) Here’s a picture of the stamp on another card I’ve made (in a beginner blogger error, I didn’t take a picture of my cousin’s card…)

I could have used “Congratulations” or “Celebrate” but I like “Enjoy” better. Enjoy means “to have a good time” or “to take pleasure or satisfaction in”. What more appropriate descriptions could there be for a well-deserved retirement? To me, it embodies the long term nature of a retirement, rather than marking the single day on which the retirement actually takes place.

After I made the card though, the next question was what to write on the inside of it. So I did what I do best when I have a question these days – I “Googled” it and came up with LOTS of ideas, many of which were appropriate for coworkers to use and others which were more suitable for friends and family. I had to laugh when I found two different sites, but by the same blogger, one of which advised that on a card for a coworker it was (a) appropriate (site 1) and (b) inappropriate (site 2) to express your jealousy towards the retiree no longer having to work. Guess it all depends on which site you hit first as to which advice you got!

Here are my favorites of all the sentiments I found. The first one is what I used for my card:

1. Congratulations on your retirement; the end of an era but the start of a whole new chapter.

2. Retirement is when you finally stop doing whatever the boss tells you to do and you start doing what your heart tells you to do.

3. Retire from work, but not from life.   M.K. Soni

4. Just as your work has been long and satisfying, we wish you a long and satisfying retirement.

5. We are only limited by our own thinking, even at this stage in life, you can think big

6. Opening a new chapter in life can be a huge adventure

7. Let the sand between your toes tickle your feet, you’ve earned that!

8. This next stage of your life can be filled with adventures, take the leap

9. Retiring is not just leaving your job behind, it’s embracing your future. Enjoy the best part of your life.

10. Pack your bags and set sail for the trip of a lifetime, where the alarm clock is silent, the time-clock is obsolete, and you can stay in your pajamas till noon. Enjoy!

Which is your favorite?




Filed under Genealogy, Retirement Cards

Hello world!

Welcome to the Certain Smiles Blog!

In a recent message, Joel Osteen (message #619-It’s Already Yours) spoke of an impression his father had of a part of Heaven. There was a warehouse full of boxes, each with someone’s name on them. His father asked St. Peter what all the boxes were for. St. Peter explained that they were the blessing that were assigned to individuals, but that those people never claimed for themselves because they didn’t have the faith, or the courage, or the belief in themselves to accept the blessing and pursue it.

I expect my box is pretty darn large. Last week, during a phone call with my boyfriend, we were talking about my Etsy shop and how I could increase sales. He made a very good suggestion. My response: “I’ll have to look into,” which, for me, is code for, “Um, sweetie, that sounds like something that pursuing will have to force me outside of my comfort zone, so while it sounds like a good idea and all, why don’t I just say I’ll ‘think about it’, when in fact I’ll just put it on the shelf until you forget it.”

Kind of like this blog. It sounds like a good idea, but I get intimidated every time I sit down actually come up with content for it. So, after my boyfriend and I hung up after that phone call, I clicked on to the computer game I often play when I’m stalling for time. Turns out, I’ve stalled for time a lot. I checked the statistics. Then I blinked twice and read the numbers again. Yikes. I’ve played that game 2,602 times (and that’s after my computer crashed a few years back and I had to reinstall the game software. I don’t want to think about how many times I played it before then.) At approximately 10 minutes per game, that’s 26,020 minutes, or 433 hours (really?!?!?!) Do you mean to tell me I’ve spent 18 days of my life playing a computer game! 18 days “stalling”? Do I dare post a statistic like THAT on a public blog?

Then yesterday, I found a blog by someone I was curious to learn more about. The author had only done about two dozen entries in 2013; and none since then. It wasn’t a fancy blog, no earth-shattering “never-before-seen on the Internet” content (its focus was on healthy living), but what was unique was the person behind it and the uniqueness he brought to each entry. That’s what made it special; particularly his post about what it means to be a father and his own experience with fatherhood.

And that’s when it dawned on me. OK, you’re not going to find information here that you couldn’t find else on the Internet through a Google search. But you’re going to get it through my filter. Every time I sit down to come up with ideas of what to post here, I think, “but someone else has already done that (and probably done it better).” Well, OK, I’ve taken the first step. Gotten over the idea that what I put out there has to be something that no one has ever done before. The next step is to ignore that constant critic of mine who never thinks anything I do is good enough. That part is going to be harder to accomplish. But I’m ready to conquer that foe as well.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

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