It was the day after Mum’s death, and my sister had suggested we mark the occasion with going out for a meal; we hadn’t been able to go out for the past month as we wanted to spend as much time with Mum as possible.

So out we went; my sister, my boyfriend, and a very close friend of mine who was in town for the night visiting. The food was wonderful and we ate and chatted. I spoke briefly about the stresses of the past two weeks and my shock and disbelief, and enjoyed hearing about things other than that topic, like my friend’s uni course and general gossip. It felt good to talk about things other than Mum’s situation.

When we had finished the meal, my friend said “I’ve got something for you”. She pulled out a card. I opened it.”Look Yoann” I said to my partner. “It’s a sorry-your-mum’s-dead card”.

I’m not sure if I was surprised to receive the card because it’s such a British thing to give cards (and I’ve lived outside of the UK for four years now), or if it was just part of the general shock of the whole ordeal. I was lucky that the first card was from such a close friend, as I think a casual acquaintance might have freaked out at my glib reaction.

My sister printed a note to the neighbours, explaining that Mum had passed away and thanking anyone who had helped her, inviting them to the funeral. The week before the funeral was punctuated by rustles at the door, wordless cards stealthed through the letterbox by people who wanted to pay their condolences but didn’t want to intrude.

“Sorry your mum’s dead card!” I proclaimed when I heard the letter box open. Sometimes they were just publicity leaflets, but it gave me and my sister a chuckle anyway. Our dark sense of humour comes from Mum.

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