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Sympathy Cards in Italy
August 25, 2005 10:05 AM   Subscribe

Sympathy cards in Italy. A somewhat distant relative of mine in Italy passed away recently and I'd like to send a card. As my Italian is rudimentary at best and as I'm not sure what is acceptable or proper to write in a sympathy card in Italy, I'd appreciate any suggestions from Italian-speaking Mefites.

I don't imagine that the contents of the card would differ substantially between the English-speaking world and Italy; however, I have no idea what Italians would typically write in such a card. Are euphemisms for death (she is dead vs she passed away, for example) used in Italian? Is it appropriate to mention her long battle with disease (which wasn't talked about when she was alive)? Should I mention things religious (heaven, Jesus, etc)? I'm fine with sending a card written in broken Italian (which is, honestly, what they'd expect) but I'd hate to inadvertently offend during a time of mourning. Grazie!
posted by lumiere to Human Relations (8 answers total)
 
Are euphemisms for death (she is dead vs she passed away, for example) used in Italian?


of course. you can write most of the euphemisms you would in English ("she left us" -- "Ci ha lasciato")

re: disease. I don't think they would mind a quick reference like "dopo una lunga malattia" ("after a long illness"), if you'd like to put that in

re: religion. I don't know -- was she religious? are her relatives? if they are, I don't think why you shouldn't mention God (during Catholic religious services we usually mention Her more often than we mention Jesus)

anyway, a good template (short and sweet is always good, here too) is:
Miei cari (insert your mourning Italian relatives' name here),
Vi sono vicino in questo momento di dolore per la perdita della cara (insert name of dead relative here), e tutti voi siete nei miei pensieri nelle mie preghiere.
Adesso la cara (dead relative name here) riposa in pace nella braccia del Signore
Con affetto,
il vostro (your name)
(My dear X, I am with you in this moment of sorrow for the passing of our beloved Y; you are in my thoughts and prayers. Now she is finally resting in peace in the Lord's arms. With love, your lumiere)



hope that helps, lumiere, and please accept my condolescences ("condoglianze" in Italian)
posted by matteo at 10:50 AM on August 25, 2005


tutti voi siete nei miei pensieri e nelle mie preghiere.

sorry, forgot to put and "e" ("and") in there
posted by matteo at 10:52 AM on August 25, 2005


riposa in pace nella nelle braccia

sorry again
posted by matteo at 10:53 AM on August 25, 2005


Sorry to just make a correction and not a suggestion:
I think it should actually be nei bracci, as arm, braccio, is masculin.

Please correct me if i'm wrong - my Italian is not good and maybe there's something special when you're talking about the Lord :)
posted by louigi at 11:24 AM on August 25, 2005


Are euphemisms for death (she is dead vs she passed away, for example) used in Italian? Is it appropriate to mention her long battle with disease (which wasn't talked about when she was alive)? Should I mention things religious (heaven, Jesus, etc)?

Yes; not really, especially given your parenthetical note; depends...
I think what matteo wrote is perfectly fine. You could maybe leave out the last sentence before the closing ("Adesso la cara... Signore") if you're not too sure, but it is kind of a classic formula. Of course it does depend on whether the deceased and relatives were religious at all or not, and whether they're Catholics or another religion, but I'm assuming you're implying they are, or you wouldn't have asked, I guess. Even if they're not particularly religious, references to prayers are not going to be offensive or inappropriate, especially if kept short and formal.
posted by funambulist at 12:09 PM on August 25, 2005


louigi: that word is one of those weird exceptions where the singular is masculine, the plural is feminine (when speaking of human arms, literally or figuratively; arms as in arms of a crane or building or any other inanimate thing are still masculine in the plural, so you'd have 'bracci' instead of 'braccia'). So, you're wrong, but only because you're right in applying the rules, except this is an odd exception that doesn't make any sense.
posted by funambulist at 12:21 PM on August 25, 2005


Matteo is of course correct on all points. To expand, I don't think you should go into any in-depth discussion of the nature of the illness or anything. In my experience Italians are typically somewhat more euphemistic about this sort of thing than Americans are, at least in written communications. I think his note is great as it stands.

Condolences on your loss.
posted by lackutrol at 4:07 PM on August 25, 2005


Thank you everyone for your help - I very much appreciate the suggestions and advice. Thanks especially to Matteo for his help with composing a note. There's a slight problem, of course - my relatives are going to a receive a card where the Italian will be too good! :) Thank you again.
posted by lumiere at 12:47 AM on August 27, 2005


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