Lincoln Offers Words of Comfort

The devastating losses of the Civil War made the composition of condolence letters one of Lincoln’s regular, dismal duties. He wrote this deeply felt letter to the twenty-two-year-old Fanny McCullough only ten months after the death of his son Willie. Lincoln offers words of solace on the death of McCullough’s father, telling her that “In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares. The older have learned to ever expect it. I am anxious to afford some alleviation of your present distress. Perfect relief is not possible, except with time. . . . I have had experience enough to know what I say; and you need only to believe it, to feel better at once.”