If you have lost a close family member or friend, you may have received gifts, flowers, and help from others. Some people wonder if it's necessary to send thank you notes after a funeral or memorial service.
Although most people don't expect it during your time of grief, sending a thank you note is always good etiquette when someone gives you a gift or does something special for you. There's no deadline on the amount of time that has passed after the funeral, so it's okay to wait until you're emotionally ready.
Those Who Attend the Funeral
You can send a brief note of gratitude to all the attendees at a very small funeral, but again, that isn't necessary. However, if the funeral had hundreds of people in attendance, you probably won't want to send everyone a note. But you can still be selective and send a message to those who went out of their way to be there for you when you most needed comfort. For example, if someone went to the funeral home to help make arrangements or babysat your children, a thank you note would be appreciated.
Who Should Get a Thank You Note
There are some people you will probably want to thank as soon as you are able:
- People who did anything for you between the time of death to the days following the funeral
- Anyone who supported you during the infirmary of the deceased if the death was the result of a long battle with sickness or disease
- People who sent flowers or gifts for the service
- Clergy and musicians who participated in the funeral service
- Anyone who helped during the service, such as the host and the person who stood by the guest register
- Those who delivered a eulogy
Not Necessary to Send Thank You Notes to Everyone
There is no reason to send thank you notes for normal acts of kindness, unless it's something you really want to do. Here are some examples of those you don't need to worry about sending a letter:
- People who sent cards and words of sympathy and condolences
- Those who sent thank you notes from charities who received donations in honor of the deceased
- Anyone who stopped by on the day of the funeral
Most people understand it's difficult to keep track of every single person who contributed to the table filled with casseroles, sandwiches, and desserts. You may want to send notes of appreciation to people who brought food. Jot down the names of anyone who shows up with food or any type of gift so you can remember while writing the note.
Who Should Send a Thank You Note
It is appropriate for anyone who benefitted from direct assistance to send a thank you note. This is often the spouse, child, or parent of the deceased. A thank you note from any other family member or very close friend is also acceptable.
If you are still too distressed to send a note, you can have someone else do it for you. The recipient will understand if she receives a note with the words, "My sister Marsha asked me to thank you for the beautiful flowers and thoughtful card. She's still grieving the loss of her soul mate, but she wants me to let you know that she looks forward to chatting with you soon."
When to Send a Thank You Note
Thank you notes should always be written as soon as you are able to. Most people will understand if they don't receive one within a week of the funeral. There isn't a strict time limit, but it's best to finish writing and sending them within a couple of months. You'll be relieved afterward to have it all behind you.
What to Say in a Thank You Card
This is one of those times when it's appropriate to send cards with preprinted notes. You can add another sentence or phrase to personalize the message and sign your name.
When writing a thank you note, be as specific as possible:
Dear Beth and Jonathan,
Thank you both so much for all the time you spent with Timothy and me before he passed away. It meant a lot to me to have such kind, loving friends.
Thank you for the lovely flowers you sent to my grandmother's funeral. She always loved white roses, and seeing them in the bouquet reminded me of how much she enjoyed your visits. I'll always appreciate how kind you were to her.
It's not always expected after a funeral, but it's still a nice gesture to offer a show of gratitude for people who have been there for you during the difficult time of mourning. It might even help you heal as you remember those people who thought of you during this difficult time.