Saying Thank You
Words can be hard to come by when you are searching for the right ones. How exactly do you tell the people that have surrounded you through this tough time in your life, thank you? Well, you do just that. Sending a thank you note after a funeral may feel awkward, however expressing gratitude and acknowledging that you have cared for shows great maturity and appreciation.
Whom to Thank:
You don’t need to thank everyone that attended the funeral or visitation. The people that you want to acknowledge with a thank you note are those whom “went the extra mile” to make you feel supported. Here is a short list of those whom should be on your list:
- Those whom sent a flower arrangement or made a donation.
- People who participated in the service: a pallbearer, musician, someone reading scripture or paying tribute to the deceased and clergy
- Someone who provided food at the family residence or funeral home
- Someone special that you want to thank, maybe they helped with arrangements or child care or just provided a thoughtful gesture
- Those who sent a sympathy card
Thank You Customs
In general, you will find that thank you notes will be similar across the different religions. There are a few exceptions that you might want to be aware of.
- Jewish: It is NOT expected that a thank you note be written. The Jewish community views making contributions and assisting in Shiva a mitzvah which is a commandment and not a deed, therefore it does not require thanks. They also believe that the grieving family should be allowed time to grieve instead of worrying about the duty of writing thank you notes. This is good to note if you are in the Jewish community or if you have attended a Shiva.
- Catholic: If you receive a Mass card then you know someone has requested a Mass for the deceased. It is customary to thank the person or people that have extended this gift with a thank you card.
What to Say
It can feel stressful for thanking someone for attending a funeral. However, when you are ready to sit down an compose your thank you note is you choose to send them remember to speak from the heart, be specific and show your gratitude.
Example Wording Depending on the type of Thanks:
- Attendees (not all attendees need to be sent a note):
It meant so much to us to have you with us at Mom’s funeral. It was wonderful to feel your support and love on such a hard day. She will be missed. However, your kindness will remain with us.
I can’t begin to thank you enough for your beautiful bouquet. We greatly appreciate your support and kind words on during this difficult time. We are eternally grateful for your friendship.
Mom certainly loved her church. Your donation in her honor is so appreciated. Thank you too for your love and support. We are humbled.
- In the Funeral:
It was wonderful to have you involved in honoring out mother. Thank you for being involved as a _____________ (pallbearer, musician, speaker, etc). The family was honored to have you with us celebrating her life!
- Act of Kindness or Food
This has been a hard time for the family. Thank you so much for ____________ (taking care of the kids, providing dinner) to ease our burdens. Your kindness is immeasurable to our family. We value you and can not thank you enough.
- Sympathy Cards
We received your beautiful card. I wanted to thank you so much for your thoughtfulness and comforting words. It means a great deal not only to me but to my family!
Who Needs to Send the Thank you?
During the grieving period, it can be very hard to make sure you have all of the proper etiquette. Who do we need to thank, how, when and what are all valid questions. Typically if you were the intended recipient of the acknowledgment it is customary that you be the one to write the thank you. However, there are times when the grief is too much to tackle that responsibility. Thank you notes are not a requirement and most people completely understand your unspoken gratitude. It can be appropriate to have someone write on your behalf to express your gratitude.
Sherri asked me to send you a note on her behalf thanking you for the generous donation you made in her mother’s honor. She is still grieving but did not want your kindness to go unacknowledged. Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness.
This allows the recipient the dignity of sending a thank you yet not the stress or anxiety of trying to get this accomplished while still grieving heavily.
Sending thank you notes from a funeral can be an incredibly personal thing especially in such a time of grief. There are so many details that will need attending too and thank you notes are not a detail to worry about until you have a moment when life is a little less chaotic. Take your time and see what works is best for you. It may provide closure for you to send all the thank you notes personally, or it may be helpful to enlist a family member or close friend to help you with the task. But remember, take care of you and then take care of the Thank You.