With My Deepest Sympathy

November 18, 2015

I take a lot of pride in how we do death in the South. From food to flowers to fashion, folks down here really know how to give a gracious send off.

Though it may appear effortless from the outside, it’s actually a domino effect of traditions that have been handed down from generation to generation. Some subtle, some not so much.

The loss of a close friend’s sweet mom last week got me thinking about these ties that bind and how comforting they are to all of us when someone we love passes away.

Send: A Handwritten Note

Without question, the first thing to do when you learn of someone’s passing is send the bereaved a handwritten note. Preferably on your personal stationery (I love mine and you can see it below), but in the absence of that any other stationery or sympathy card will do.


Personal stationery is like a signature fragrance. It speaks for you before you even say a word. Visit Love Letters for a gorgeous selection of paperie.

sympathy riflesympathy james joyce

Rifle Paper Co. With Deepest Sympathy Card $4.50

They Lived and Laughed and Loved and Left’ – James Joyce Sympathy Card $3.95

When my father passed away, the most unexpected and very appreciated gift we received was a bag full of paper towels, toilet paper, paper plates, plastic utensils and plastic cups. You have no idea how much people eat when they’re sad. Trust me, it’s a lot.

Wear: Black, but only if you want to.

My grandmother and my mother are both scions of the southern culture. So if they say it’s true, you can darn sure take it as gospel. And they both taught me that you do not have to wear black to a funeral. That being said,

I think every woman should invest in a go-to ‘funeral dress’ that can be used in a pinch for a less-formal wedding, job interview, holiday party, graduation, dinner at a fine restaurant or any other occasion that may come up unexpectedly.

karen kane black dressDVF black dress

Karen Kane Ruched Faux Wrap Dress $108

Diane von Furstenburg Lillian Pleated Waist Dress $398

Sheath dresses and wrap dresses in a solid, dark color are both classic and versatile. They can be dressed up or down with accessories.

Have yours tailored to fit you perfectly and then keep it clean and at the ready. You’ll be surprised how often you reach for it!

tadashi sheath dressdress back

Tahari Portrait Collar Crepe Sheath Dress $148

I love the back of this dress! And the lovely pearl brooch comes with it!

kate spade black dressthe row dress

Kate Spade Ruffle Sleeve Dress $348

The Row Kenning Seamed Sheath $590

Bring: Tomato Aspic

Food provides comfort during times of grief and there’s nothing like a Southern funeral to get the ladies into the kitchen in search of silver serving pieces and Saran Wrap. At visitations and after funerals, every inch of dining room tables are laden with casseroles and every tea sandwich imaginable. And always, always the venerable Southern staple: Tomato Aspic.

True confessions: I’m not a huge aspic fan. If you’ve never had it, well, it’s kind of like a V8 flavored Jello. But its mere presence on the table makes me feel better. This one from OKRA magazine is as good as it gets with a nice celery flavor and zippy tomato tang.

tomato aspic

Tomato Aspic

  • 5 ¾ cups (46 ounces) tomato juice

  • 3 packets unflavored gelatin

  • ½ medium onion, chopped

  • ½ cup chopped celery leaves

  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon sugar

  • 1 teaspoon celery salt

  • 1 teaspoon salt

Lightly brush a 5-cup ring mold or equivalent individual molds with flavorless vegetable oil. This is a vital step – cooking spray doesn’t work well.

Place 2 cups of the tomato juice in a small bowl and stir in the gelatin to dissolve. Set aside.

Pour the remaining tomato juice into a large saucepan, add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then simmer reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer for ten minutes.

Strain the juice into a bowl with a pouring spout. Press on the solids to release any juice then discard. Whisk in the reserved gelatin mixture until thoroughly combined. Carefully pour into the prepared ring mold, filling as full as possible.

Very carefully transfer the mold to the refrigerator. When the aspic has cooled, cover the mold with plastic wrap, then chill until firm, at least 8 hours or overnight.

Unmold the aspic onto an elegant tray, and surround with parsley. Serve with a dish of mayonnaise next to it on the table. (Which mayonnaise brand is the best is a heated and often divisive topic among southerners, but since this is my blog and I get to make the rules, I say Hellmann’s baby, all the way.)

Trust Me, You’ll Love It: November

Black Halo is one of my favorite brands because they emulate the details and silhouettes of couture designers. The dresses are classic in design, really well made and offered at a good price point…especially when they go on sale! Lookie here!

BH Dress DG Sheath

Janie Bryant for Black Halo Sonnet Floral Twill Sheath

$390 ON SALE $234


Dolce & Gabbana Charmeuse Floral Sheath $2,395

Next Week: SuthinGirl 2015 Holiday Gift Guide

I can’t wait!!! Starting next week and continuing until Christmas, SuthinGirl will roll out a brand-new list of hand-picked holiday gifts each week.

I’m head-over-heels in LOVE with everything I’ve chosen and there is literally something for everyone on your holiday list at a wide range of prices. There are even handy dandy links for easy shopping!

Eager to get a jump on your holiday shopping? Check out Your Holiday Gift Guide Sneak Peek! for a taste of what’s to come.

SuthinGirl Shops

Looking for a little gift-giving TLC? Whether you need one gift or dozens, SuthinGirl will personally help you with your holiday shopping!

SuthinGirl Shops is the premier online gifting and personal shopping service with gift ideas for everyone at any budget! I love to shop for gifts and would be thrilled help you survive (and—gasp!—even enjoy) gift giving during the holidays and beyond.

Click SuthinGirl Shops or fill out the form below to get started today!

My gift to you…special holiday pricing on all of my services from now until Christmas!

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