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How To Write A Thank You Card After A Loss


Proper etiquette requires the family of the deceased to send funeral thank you cards to acknowledge significant gestures and support given during this difficult time.

The thank you cards don’t need to be lengthy, a well-chosen line or two will suffice. However, ideally they should be hand-written and sent within two weeks after the funeral service, if at all possible.

Funeral Thank You Etiquette

Proper etiquette dictates sending thank you notes for significant gestures, such as sending flowers, bringing food, participating in the funeral service, giving money to help with funeral expenses or as a charity donation. You don’t need to send thank you notes for sympathy cards.

Structure of a Funeral Thank You Card

Funeral thank you cards all follow the same basic structure:

  • Salutation: Dear [person’s name]. If you are particularly close to the person to whom the card is being sent, you could open with: “My dearest [person’s name].”

  • Expression of gratitude: Express gratitude and thanks on behalf of you and your family for his or her help or thoughtfulness. A sentence or two will suffice, but be specific about what you are grateful for (for example, a beautiful bouquet of sympathy flowers).

  • Personalization: People also appreciate a personal touch whereby you mention anything special he or she did that touched your heart, or his or her special relationship with the deceased. The personal touch shows that you put thought into writing the funeral thank you card.

  • Closing: End the note with “Yours Truly” or “Love” (depending on the closeness of your relationship to the person), and sign the card on behalf of your family (e.g. With Much Love, the Smith Family) or yourself (e.g. Yours Truly, Mrs. Smith).

Thank You Notes for Funeral Flowers

Sympathy bouquets are a beautiful way to show love and support for you and your family after a loss.

We suggest writing a note to yourself on the back of the card that accompanied the funeral flowers (or in a list) where you track the type of flowers that were sent. Then when you are ready to write thank you notes, you are able to reference the sender’s particular bouquet.

In case you didn’t keep track of who sent each bouquet, we also provide you with a couple of generic wording samples to say thank you.

If you get tired of using the word “beautiful” to describe a flower arrangement, here are some other adjectives that would also work well: gorgeous; spectacular; breathtaking; elegant; fragrant; pretty; special; stunning; sweet; touching; lovely.

Simply substitute the adjective of your choice in one of the thank you note samples below:

Funeral Flowers: Sample 1

Dear [Name]:

Thank you so much for the beautiful flower arrangement you sent to us when [Deceased’s First Name] passed away. As you know, [he/she] loved flowers,* and enjoyed pottering around [his/her] gardening. We are truly grateful to you and your family for your love and support at this difficult time.

With love,

[Your Family Name]

*Instead of using the generic word “flowers,” you could mention a specific type of flower that was included in the sympathy bouquet that your loved one especially liked (e.g. red roses).

Funeral Flowers: Sample 2

My Dearest [Name]:

Thank you for the gorgeous wreath that you sent. Mom always loved roses,* and I always think of her when I see them. Your lovely wreath helped make Mom’s service extra special. I will always be grateful for your kindness.

With Much Love,

[Your Name]

* Reference the type of flower in the funeral flower arrangement if it was especially meaningful to the person that passed away.

Funeral Flowers: Sample 3

Dear [Name of Family]:

Thank you for the elegant bouquet of white flowers that you sent us. They were special and it was so kind of you to think of us. We also appreciated that you travelled a long way to be with us at the service.

Yours Truly,

[Name of the Family]

Thank You Notes After Funeral to Coworkers

If your coworkers were very supportive after the loss of a loved one, you may wish to send a thank you card. In this event, it is fine to address the thank you card to the group, instead of writing individual cards.

Here are sample thank you notes to express gratitude to a group at work, or to your boss. You can use a sample as it is written, or you can combine lines from different samples to reflect your personal circumstance.

(Please note that the wording samples can be used for a thank you card to other types of groups; for example, your church community.)

Coworkers: Sample 1

Dear friends and coworkers:

Thank you for your kindness following the passing of [Deceased’s First Name].

I am so grateful for everything you have done to support me during this sad time. I appreciate the flowers, meals, the visits and phone calls. Thank you also for attending [Deceased’s First Name]’s funeral; it meant a lot to me.

Given the great outpouring of support, I am unable to write individual thank you cards. But please know that I appreciate each and every one of you.

Thank you for being there for me.

With sincere thanks,

[Your Name]

Coworkers: Sample 2

Dear [Name of Your Boss]:

Thank you for granting me extended paid leave from work. I really appreciate your understanding during this difficult time. I am lucky to be working for such a supportive [boss/organization].

With many thanks,

[Your Name]

Coworkers: Sample 3

Dear friends and coworkers:

Thank you for your support during this difficult time. It’s heartwarming to know that you are all in my corner as I face the loss of [Deceased’s name]. I am really thankful to work at such a wonderful [company/business].

With sincere thanks,

[Your Name]

Thank You Notes for Funeral Food

Friends and neighbours often will bring comfort food to stock your fridge after the death of a loved one. They show their care and concern for you by making sure that you are at least well nourished during this difficult time.

Your church community may also prepare food to serve at the post-funeral reception. This can range from light appetizers to sit-down buffet dinners in the church hall.

You will find the 5 great examples of thank you notes for funeral food. Again, you can follow the example exactly, or combine lines from different examples to reflect your personal circumstances.

Funeral Food: Sample 1

Dear [Name]:

Thank you for bringing such delicious food to our home after the service. It was incredibly thoughtful of you. We actually had more guests arrive than we expected, so having extra food on hand was really appreciated.

Thank you for being such a good friend.

With warm regards,

[Your Name]

Funeral Food: Sample 2

Dear [Name of Family]:

Thank you for the wonderful meals that you prepared for us. They were delicious and it was so kind of you to think of us. (We’ll have to get copies of the recipes from you.) We appreciate your thoughtfulness more than we can ever express in words.

Yours Truly,

[Name of the Family]

Funeral Food: Sample 3

My Dearest [Name]:

Thank you for the [type of dish*] that you made for [Deceased’s Name]’s funeral reception. Not only was it delicious, it helped make the gathering extra special. I will always be grateful for your help and for your kindness.

With Much Love,

[Your Name]

* As examples: pasta dish; beef casserole; bread rolls; cakes

Funeral Thank You Notes for Money

You should write funeral thank you notes for money that you received from family and friends, either as a contribution to funeral expenses or to a charity fund in your loved one’s name.

In case you feel awkward thanking someone for giving money, we have 5 examples of wording you can follow or be inspired by.

(Just remember that etiquette dictates that you do not state in your funeral thank you card the dollar amount given by the person or family.)

Money: Sample 1

Dear [Name of Family]:

Thank you for your kindness in remembering [Deceased’s Name] with your donation. Your thoughtfulness and generosity are much appreciated by the entire family.

Yours Truly,

[Name of the Family]

Money: Sample 2

Dear [Name]:

I am so appreciative of your generosity. Your donation in honor of [Deceased’s Name] will help fund the beautiful headstone that will be made to honour [him/her]. Thank you for caring so much about [Deceased’s Name]. You have always been a good [type of relationship*] to [him/her].

With sincere thanks,

[Your Name]

* As examples: friend; bother; aunt.

Money: Sample 3

Dear [Name]:

It was so kind of you to make a donation to the family in honor of [Deceased’s Name]. We are pleased to pay it forward by sending a gift to [Name of the Charity], which was dear to [Deceased’s Name]’s heart. Thank you for your generosity, kindness and support.

With sincere thanks,

[Name of the Family]

Thank You Notes For Pallbearers

Pallbearers are responsible for transporting the coffin or casket, and therefore perform a vital role at a funeral service.

Here are 7 great wording samples that are appropriate for use in thank you notes for pallbearers.

(We are quietly confident that you will find a sample that matches the sentiment you had in mind.)

Pallbearers: Sample 1

Dear [Pallbearer’s Name]:

Thank you so much for serving as a pallbearer at [Deceased’s First Name]’s funeral. I am truly grateful to you and your family for your love and support at this difficult time. I especially appreciated your phone calls after the funeral service to see how I was doing.

With love,

[Your Name]

Pallbearers: Sample 2

Dear [Pallbearer’s Name]:

Thank you again for your assistance and support at [Deceased’s First Name]’s funeral. Your service as a pallbearer meant so much to us. We also appreciated that you had to travel a long way to be with us at the service.

Yours Truly,

[Name of the Family]

Pallbearers: Sample 3

My Dearest [Pallbearer’s Name]:

Thank you for serving as a pallbearer at [Deceased’s First Name]’s funeral. You are a true friend. Your contributions to the service were a tremendous help and very much appreciated. I will forever be grateful for your kindness.

With Much Love,

[Your Name]

Thank You Note to Pastor After Funeral

If your loved one had a religious funeral service, funeral thank you etiquette dictates sending a note of appreciation to the person that conducted the service.

This includes services officiated by a pastor, minister, clergy, or some other type of religious leader.

You will find 5 samples of a thank you note to a pastor that you can send after the funeral service.

In the salutation line, be sure to address the person in a manner that is appropriate for his or her position or the religion’s customs. (As examples: Dear Father Clarence; Dear Brother Robinson; Dear Pastor Wilkinson.)

Pastor: Sample 1

Dear [Name]:

Thank you for officiating at [Deceased’s Name]’s funeral service. Your words were inspirational and truly honoured [Deceased’s Name]’s life and legacy. We also appreciate your support, ministry and encouragement during our time of grief.

Our deepest thanks,

[Name of the Family]

Pastor: Sample 2

Dear [Name]:

We wish to express our sincere appreciation for giving a beautiful service that truly honoured [Deceased’s Name]’s memory. It gives us great comfort to know that after death comes eternal life where there is no tears and suffering. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.

Blessings,

[Name of the Family]

Pastor: Sample 3

Dear [Name]:

Thank you for caring for our family during this difficult time. Your words at [Deceased’s Name]’s memorial service were of great comfort to us and to everybody who attended.

With sincere thanks,

[Name of the Family]

Bereavement Thank You Notes

You don’t have to send a thank you card in response to every sympathy card that you and your family received.

However, if you received a letter, sympathy card, or phone call that was particularly thoughtful or touched you deeply, you may want to send a card expressing your gratitude.

Bereavement thank you notes are also appropriate for close friends that have rallied behind you and provided much needed day-to-day support. (After all, it’s always nice to be appreciated!)

Bereavement: Sample 1

Dear [Name]:

Thank you for your support during this difficult time. Just sitting with me while I cry means more than you will ever know.

With love,

[Your Name]

Bereavement: Sample 2

Dear [Name]:

Thank you for your support during this difficult time. I am so grateful for your emails and phone calls to check-in with me, and for your kind offer to come and stay with you. I am truly lucky to have such a caring friend.

With love,

[Your Name]

Bereavement: Sample 3

Dear [Name]:

I appreciate everything you have done to be there for me after the loss of [Deceased’s Name]. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your support during this difficult time. You have made an awful time in my life more bearable. I truly appreciate what a wonderful friend I have in you.

With love,

[Your Name]

Other Options for Funeral Thank You Cards

When a loved one passes away, the weeks that follow can be a period of intense grief. Grief not only has emotional symptoms, such as sadness and anger, it can have physical symptoms as well, such as difficultly concentrating and/or loss of motivation.

While handwritten, personalized funeral thank you cards are always greatly appreciated by recipients, people will understand if you cannot manage it.

In this event, you could consider a couple of options.

You can ask your funeral home director to supply you with funeral thank you cards that have a simple pre-printed message of thanks, or even a funeral thank you poem.

This leaves you with just writing just the salutation (e.g. Dear John) and the closing (Love, Mary). You could then give your address book to a close friend and ask him or her to address the envelopes and arrange for postage on your behalf.

The second option is to write a more personal thank you card once you are feeling up to it. It is never too late to write a note expressing your appreciation for a kind deed or for support.

Don’t get too stressed about using the “perfect” wording for your funeral thank you cards. It’s definitely the thought that counts.

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