Wednesday, July 27, 2016

When Words Are Not Enough

What do you say to a parent who has lost a child. Even if that child is an adult it is a devastating loss. How can words comfort a brother or sister who lost a best friend or a wife who was looking forward to enjoying a quieter life with her spouse without the strain of jobs and children? And the children. What on earth do you say to the children who have lost a parent?

Our neighbor passed away earlier this week. We haven't lived in the area long but had gotten to know Ron and Cindy a little. Ron had been fighting his battle with Cancer since we fist met him but he always had a good word and smile no matter how poorly he was feeling on any given day.

As I sat down to write Cindy a note I realized, yet again, that I didn't know what to say.

At Laurel Mountain Basket Company making and delivering sympathy gift baskets is a big part of our business. Often the sender will ask us for suggestions as to what to write on the care. “Thinking of you during this difficult time”, Keeping you and your family in our thoughts and prayers” or “With deepest sympathies” have always seemed appropriate but this time, they didn't work.

I think it was because I was too close to the situation and was forgetting what condolence wishes are all about.

1. They are not about you, not about how you feel. They are not even about the person who has passed. Messages of sympathy are about the ones who are left behind.

2. Messages of sympathy are not about “fixing it”. There is nothing you can do or say that is going to take the pay and grief away. Time will change things but it is NOT your place to point that out.

3. Actions speak louder than words so if you are in a position to help, here are a few things you can do.

4. Remember that everyone grieves differently. Let them know you are there if they want to talk or if they would like your help but don't push or hover. Respect their need to grieve in their own way.

5. Offer to run errands or do chores like picking up people at the airport, baby sitting, cutting the grass, or picking up some groceries.

6. If you are not in a position to personally help out, send prepared meals or a gift basked filled with fruit or other easy to eat foods.

7. Don't question them about the details of the death.

Sympathy may be one of the most difficult emotions to convey and there is not easy way to approach someone who has just suffered a significant loss. Offer what you can whether it is an ear to listen with or a shoulder to lean on. It will be the right thing.


P.S. For more information or to view some of our recent designs, check out or call us at 413-527-1243

What If....

When I was six years old I wanted to be a cowgirl, just like Dale Evans or a pioneer like Daniel Boone.

The other day we were watching one of the Jason Bourne movies and I thought being a spy might be very cool profession.

I go to the gym 4 or 5 times a week so I'm sure I could jump from roof top to roof top and swing from bell ropes and utility wires easy enough. I've had my driver's license since I was 16 and only have had one fender bender (the time I backed into my husband's tuck while it was parked in the yard) so I'm sure I could drive 100 mph through foreign streets during the running of the bulls and not pile up.

I haven't field a gun in years but I'm sure I could handle any of the new fancy firearms available today (as long as someone disengaged the safety for me).

Other than sneaking into dark places to photograph secret documents (I get jumpy walking to my car in a parking lot at night), the only problem I see that would prevent me from being a first class spy would be remembering which name I was using on any given day.

In a lot of spy movies the spy has a bunch of passports all in different names. I have been Mrs. Lisewski for almost 40 years and the receptionist in the dentist office still has to call my name three times before I realize she is talking to me.

Come to think of it, I probably don't have the skills or temperament to be a very good spy. Gift basket designer is a much more suitable career choice for me. In fact, I love what I do and I am very good at it so gift basket designer is definitely the perfect career choice for me.

How about you? What would be your fantasy career?


P.S. Check out some of my custom designs at and see if you don't agree that gift basket designer is the right choice for me. 

Opportunities In Disguise

While unpacking a distributors order, I noticed that a carton of cookies was crushed on one end and several of the individual boxes were damaged. That wasn't a big deal because I knew my distributor would credit me for the damaged goods (which they did). The problem was that I had a dozen boxes of cookies that I couldn't use in my gift baskets.

I like almost any cookie. I've been known to buy a package of Oreos out of a vending machine on occasion but Brent & Sam's chocolate chip cookies are in a league of their own. They are to die for. So you can see my dilemma. A dozen boxes of my favorite cookies that I can't use, what to do?

As difficult as it was, I chose not to eat all of those delicious cookies myself but I did need to get them out of my sight as quickly as possible. I gave a couple of boxes to my mother, another couple to my husband, who loves to taste test our products, and the rest I dropped off to clients around town. Okay, I did save two for myself but they were small boxes.

The wonderful thing about Brent & Sam's chocolate chip cookies is that they are all about the chocolate chips. My husband couldn't believe the number and size of the chocolate chips in each cookie. The cookies are made from scratch with no added preservatives. Everyone who received a box commented on how delicious they are.

My mom and husband both wanted more….. I created two cookie monsters! I bet my clients were tempted but since they aren't related, they probably felt it would be inappropriate to take advantage of our relationship.

My point, I do have a point, is that not all cookies, coffees, or chocolates are created equal and at Laurel Mountain Basket Company we choose our products very carefully. Not that we don't use Oreos and Pringles. They are practically a staple in our College Survival Kits, but our gourmet gift baskets are filled with wonderfully delicious, quality treats.

When we create a gift basket for you, you can be assured that it will

It doesn't happen often but occasionally we are forced to make sacrifices for our craft, like having to eat a couple of boxes of the best chocolate chip cookies anywhere. (They really were small boxes.)


P.S.  See lots more Laurel Mountain Basket Company designs at