In a sympathy note to a friend upon the loss of a spouse, what shall you write? How to express the sympathizing tear, the empathetic note, the understanding mind?
Samuel Johnson gives us an example in this note written Jan 20, 1780, to his friend, a Dr. Lawrence who had recently lost his wife. It reads in part:
The loss, dear Sir, which you have lately suffered, I felt many years ago, and know therefore how much has been taken from you, and how little help can be had from consolation. He that outlives a wife whom he has long loved, sees himself disjoined from the only mind that has the same hopes, and fears, and interest; from the only companion with whom he has shared much good or evil; and with whom he could set his mind at liberty, to retrace the past or anticipate the future. The continuity of being is lacerated; the settled course of sentiment and action is stopped; and life stands suspended and motionless, till it is driven by external causes into a new channel. But the time of suspense is dreadful.
Truly, this is a man who knows.
This is taken from the Christian History Institute’s Today in Christian History.