The last thing on your mind when grieving is remembering to send out a thank-you note to those who are there for you during that difficult time. However, it is appropriate to express your thanks to those who lent their support. The act of writing a note of appreciation is also a healing exercise that refreshes your perspective to see that you are cared for by many whom love and appreciate you too.
Keep in mind that not every person who deserves a thank-you note was present at the funeral; therefore, you might choose to thank each person who made the effort to show their sympathy and support in other ways.
Consider sending a thank-you note to:
- People who sent Flowers and/or Sympathy Cards
- Those who signed the visitor’s/guest’s register book at the funeral home at a time other than at the visitation or funeral because they could not attend either event.
- People who made donations to your specified charity
- People who donated their time and personal services (transportation, babysitting, medical care, etc.) or food
- Your Pallbearers
You may wish to post a public thank-you notice in your local paper as a way of thanking larger groups of people involved in the care of your loved one: the hospital and staff or caregiver(s), your clergy representative, the funeral home and staff, or any catering or transportation services that helped out in addition to the family, friends and associates who may have sent cards, flowers, donations, or made arrangements to assist during this overwhelming time.
*** A donation to a charity in the honour of someone or in memory will be acknowledged by the charitable organization, but you must also write a thank-you note to the donor.
*** Following a death, handwritten thank-you notes are written to people who sent flowers or donations; to those who helped with hot meals, hosted dinners, put up out-of-town visitors, lent chairs, or where otherwise supportive; and to all those who sent notes of condolence (exception: those who sent printed cards with only a signature and no personal message.) You may use the printed cards supplied by the funeral director if you add a personal note. When the person closest to the bereaved is unable to write immediately, a member of the family or a friend may write thank yous on their behalf. The notes don’t have to be long, and don’t even have to be sent as soon as other types of thank-you notes; traditionally, you have up to six weeks after a funeral. To keep track of who sent flowers, attached cards should be collected by a family member or funeral home official and a description of the flowers noted on each.
How to Prepare for and Write a Sympathy Note of Thanks:
1. Purchase simple (plain), good-quality stationery.
The occasion calls for quality paper and envelopes that are easily obtainable at any store selling paper products.
2. Write a simple thank you.
Be to the point and keep it short and simple; there is no need to write an essay. People understand what you are going through. Simply speak from the heart.
Some comments you might include:
- Recall a brief memory of how that person touched the deceased’s life in a way that you are aware of and mention how it made a difference to you or to the person who has passed.
- Simply thank them for thinking of you at this time of great loss in your life.
- If they are really close to you and/or your family, you might also want to let them know how much it matters to you that they were there for you and your family, and how they have always shared the good and bad times with you and your family. Human connections are the treasures of life.
- Say everything from the heart and say it simply.
Write the thank-you notes when you can, and if you can:
As with any form of acknowledgment, it is best to send notes of appreciation for support as soon as possible after the event, although certain considerations are given to families that are grieving.
Please, do not feel pressured into writing notes when you aren’t feeling up to it. For some people, writing the thank-yous might be a cathartic process that aids in their healing process, for others it might serve to get their mind off of pain, and for others it might be a way of reconnecting with people after feeling disconnected. Yet for some who are simply exhausted by what they are going through, writing notes is the last thing they can do or want to do.
Accordingly, do what is right for you. Just do what feels right. Delegate the duty to another family member or friend, or dictate the thank-you message portion if need be.
When you write a thank-you note, do share your thoughts and appreciation for what they have done for you. Focus on a happy moment that you or the person to whom you are writing shared with the person who died.
Ask helpers to send out the notes. If you aren’t up to labeling envelopes, licking them, sticking on stamps and mailing them, request the help of a friend or someone else to do it for you. You’ll find that people are more than ready to assist you.
Example of a Printed Note
(add a personal, handwritten message to each person on the bottom or back of the card)
The family and friends of Dr. Fred Baker
mourn his passing
and celebrate his life.
He touched all our lives in so many ways –
as a father, a doctor, a friend, a teacher;
His integrity and steadfast love for his children,
family, and friends;
His unwavering concern for and gentleness with
those who sought his help, and
His lifelong commitment to right-living
and teaching by example.
With love, the memory of his kind deeds and the
strength of his example live on.
Thank you for remembering him.
A Personal Note
The overwhelming flood of emotions has begun to subside. Taking each new day, one at a time. All that is done, sits in the back of my mind. All that there is to do, must start somewhere.
As I sit here, the numbness of my loved one gone reminds me of my grief. You reached out. Your caring touched me. Your love embraced me. Your strength helped me to find clarity and allow some peace of mind — for that I am thankful.
Great-Grandma Edna would often talk about you and how you taught her how to fish when nobody else would. She’s the one who taught me. Thank you, Bill, for coming to say good-bye to Great-Grandma, and for the picture of the best fishing buddies in the world. I bet she’s teaching the angels all your fishing tricks right now!
Thank-You Note to Clergy for Funeral
City, State Zip
Dear Pastor Hoit,
My mother’s death was a terrible blow for everyone in our family, but your heartfelt eulogy during her memorial service helped us all begin to move past our grief and toward an appreciation of who she was and where she is now.
I wanted to offer my deepest gratitude for the compassion and sensitivity you showed during your remarks. It’s no easy task putting into words what such a woman meant to her family, her friends, and her congregation. You nevertheless managed to articulate how so many of us were feeling that day.
Your words were a rare comfort in what has been one of the most difficult times of my life, and for that I will always be indebted to you.
All my thanks,
Thank-You Note for Sympathy
City, State Zip
Your note came just after I returned from Wisconsin, where I buried my father. The solitude here and the recent loss weighed heavily on my mind, and your caring comments made things seem brighter. Thank you for writing.
After Tragic Accident
Thank you for your kind expression of sympathy after my son’s tragic accident. We can never prepare for the depth of despair that such a sudden death brings, and the connection of our coworkers and friends helps tremendously to ease us back into the mainstream of life –- physically, if not yet emotionally. Thank you for your card and concern.
Greg and Susanna
For Comforting Note After Surgery
I enjoyed the card you sent while I was recovering from my surgery. At such times, the minutes drag and words from the outside are so welcome! Thank you for your thoughtfulness.