Offering condolences to dying accountant?
May 2, 2006 9:49 PM   Subscribe

My accountant who I've used the last several years to prepare my taxes, just sent a form letter to all his clients saying he's sold his practice because he has cancer that has metastasized to his brain and has a few weeks to live. (I was fully expecting it to be a bill) Do I send a letter or email to offer condolences? Or best to just feel bad for him, and do nothing?
posted by delladlux to Human Relations (15 answers total)
You send a letter thanking him for everything he's done for you and wishing him the best of luck with his illness.
posted by scarabic at 9:53 PM on May 2, 2006

I'm sure it wouldn't be taken amiss if you sent a letter. I also expect that he won't be outraged if he doesn't receive consolatory e-mails from all of his clients. And in either case, well, shit, he'll be dead in a matter of weeks, so it doesn't really matter what he thinks of you, does it? Do what you want to do.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 9:54 PM on May 2, 2006

Send a brief letter, handwritten, letting him know that you've appreciated his help, and that you're thinking of him and his family.
posted by bshort at 10:01 PM on May 2, 2006

Of course you offer your best wishes and sympathy. Why would you not? What possible downside are you imagining?
posted by mediareport at 10:08 PM on May 2, 2006

Unless you absolutely despise the man (in which case I wonder why you kept him as your accountant), then shell out the half buck it costs for a stamp and envelope. I mean, he's dying of brain cancer. Very few people on this planet deserve to feel unappreciated when they've just found out they have a few weeks to live.
posted by dsword at 10:47 PM on May 2, 2006

Might send flowers (if he's allowed them) or something enjoyable, if you know anything at all about his tastes. A bit of music, perhaps. Nothing wrong with a card or handwritten letter, though, if you are wondering if he might be saddened at the brevity of time available to use your thoughtful gift.
posted by bilabial at 11:06 PM on May 2, 2006

Send him a handwritten note offering your condolences and thanking him for for the fine work he did for you over the years. Throw in any personal anecdotes or fond memories that you find particularly pleasant. I'm sure that he would be very pleased to learn that you appreciated having him around.

I would also offer to make a nice donation $100 (or more, after all flowers at a funeral would be in that ball park) in his name to a charity of his choice. If he doesn't reply go ahead and make the donation to a charity for cancer research (or equivalent).

You seem to be honestly fond of him (I don't even know the name of my accountant) so going a bit further than you would for any other acquaintance seems appropriate. (Oh and don't mention the monetary amount in the note, that's a bit tacky.)
posted by oddman at 11:17 PM on May 2, 2006

Address the note to his family as well as him. He may not be the one to read it. Also, it will mean much to those who survive him to hear how appreciated and accomplished he was from a professional client; it's not just him who needs to hear it.
posted by saffron at 11:24 PM on May 2, 2006

Saffron's advice is excellent. Write the note; he'll be dead soon, he may or may not read it, but his family will read it and care.
posted by Happydaz at 1:48 AM on May 3, 2006

Do what everyone else is telling you to do with one added note: Be sincere.
posted by cellphone at 1:52 AM on May 3, 2006

Empathy.... think of yourself in his situation and respond like you would want to be treated.

Why would a man send out a letter like that? For one thing, he's an accountant, and he's telling you that you have some unexpected financial planning to do for next year's taxes! Bless him! Always the responsible man, to the very last.

I think he'd appreciate anything that shows him he IS appeciated, cared for, important, and will be missed.

This is a good chance to get this right, because as time goes on, it comes up a lot... our friends, loved ones, acquaintances, co-workers and finally ourselves. I am starting to lose count of the deaths I've had to respond to, but I am getting better at it with practice, unfortunately.

I am sorry you are losing a friend, even if not one of your closest. It is always sad and it hurts.
posted by FauxScot at 3:05 AM on May 3, 2006

Wow, the guy sounds like a true gentleman and professional. I can't help but think he discovered his fate in the middle of tax season, but pushed through anyway so that he didn't inconvienience his clients.
posted by tfmm at 3:59 AM on May 3, 2006

Write a letter to his family. Let them know their late father was an honest, trustworthy, hardworking man who you enjoyed doing business with. (I assume some of that's true, or you wouldn't have taken your taxes to him more than once.) They may not have known much about his professional relationships, and in any case it will help them to know he's remembered well.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:03 AM on May 3, 2006

What FauxScot said. It will be appreciated by him and his family.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 7:45 AM on May 3, 2006

Try to find an anecdote of something you really appreciated from him. Perhaps he unraveled a sticky situation, taught you something important, or had a personal touch that made working with him pleasant. Write that down and include it with the card/letter. It lets him know that you are really thinking of him rather than sending a routine card. It let's him know that he hasn't wasted a career as opposed to writing the great American novel. It also is good for the family who frequently has a poor connection with a person's work life.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:08 AM on May 3, 2006

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