The Go-To Guide To Writing Great Funeral Thank-You Notes

“Do people still write thank-notes?” This question is often asked to funeral directors when helping families prepare for a funeral.

The short answer? Yes.  

The thank-you note writing tradition is strong in my family. But other families may have questions about writing thank-you notes following a funeral service, such as why write them in the first place, who should write them, who should get a card, and what should be said.

Today, we’re going to walk you through each of those commonly asked question…

Why should people write thank-you notes after a funeral?

When someone passes away, there are a number of people around that help to support the family. Recognizing their sympathy, kindness and support is a thoughtful gesture that shows gratitude and appreciation.

Also, writing a thank you note is also a good exercise for the immediate family, as it allows them to see just how many people loved their family member. This activity can also bring some pleasant memories of their loved one to mind.

People also like to be thanked and know their actions were noticed or made a difference. So while a generic “thank you for your support” on Facebook or social media may be nice, it may not reach everyone that the family wants to thank. Plus, a handwritten note will feel more personal. Thank you notes also give families the opportunity to thank friends and family for specific gifts, such as flowers or donations, or acknowledge specific acts of support.

How can families streamline the thank-you note process?

Families can follow the steps below to make the thank-you note writing process easier.

These steps are intended to help with support, gifts or donations given to the immediate family. Anyone not directly involved with the funeral should be responsible for writing their own thank-you notes.

1. Start early

If families are not ordering thank-you note cards directly from the funeral home, they should buy some on their own as soon as they can.  The cards may have a printed message already them. In this case, a personal note can be added on the blank side.

When my grandma died, I went with my parents to the funeral home to help with the funeral planning. My parents decided to buy thank-you notes from the funeral home that matched the memorial cards, which helped to make the process even simpler.

2. Give guests a place to write down their addresses

At the funeral service and during calling hours, use a guest book that includes a column for the guest’s address. People may be more likely to provide their address when there is a column labeled address in the book. The addresses will be current and provide addresses for people that the family may not know.

3. Put someone in charge

Appoint one family member or appropriate close friend to oversee the thank-you note writing. If possible, this should be a person that has excellent organization skills and isn’t known for their procrastination.

This person can keep track of who is writing each note. They can distribute the thank-you cards (purchased in the previous step) and addresses to those that will be writing the notes. The overseer can also make a list of who needs a thank you, the gift they purchased, and then put a check mark next to their name once the note is written.

Who should receive a thank you note?

The short answer is anyone that provided any service, donation, flowers or other gifts should be thanked. This can include, but is not limited to, musicians, funeral directors, people providing food, friends, coworkers, and pallbearers.

Some people send a note to everyone that attended the service even if they did not give a gift or donation. I do not feel this is necessary, but I always think it is nice when a receive this type of thank you note. Others choose to only send notes to those mentioned above. I feel this is a personal preference.

Who should write the notes?

Thank-you notes are usually written by family members as support and gifts were likely intended for them. While grieving, if someone feels too overwhelmed to write notes, a friend can help, or the task can be put off for a bit.

Splitting up the thank-you note writing can also be done. For example, when a parent passes away, the adult children (and their spouses) can take responsibility for some of the notes. If using an overseer, the notes can be divided based on who gave the gift. Usually, one close family member will recognize the name on the flower card (or another gift). That family member should write that thank-you note.

Examples:

  • – Bob’s dad passes away, and co-workers send flowers to the funeral home. Bob should write the thank-you note to the co-workers.
  • – A family member makes a donation in honor of the deceased. Anyone helping with the thank-you note writing can write this note, especially if they have a particular relationship with the charity that received the donation.
  • – Aunt Lucy mentions that the wind chimes are to go to a particular family member. That family member should write the note.

 

What should you write in a thank-you note card?

People writing funeral thank-you notes for the first time or are not regular thank-you note writers may ask for guidance on what to say in the thank-you note.

If the funeral home website provides examples on their site, they can direct people to that page. Or, there are many wording examples for after funeral notes here on the Tons of Thanks site. If the thought of writing lots of notes (or any notes) is too overwhelming, signing the family’s name under a thank-you message printed on the card is fine. Grief can be hard, and I would hope that people are not expecting elegant or elaborate thank-you notes.

Examples of funeral-related thank you phrases:

  • – “Thank you for the casserole.”
  • – “Thank you for coming to the funeral.”
  • – “We liked the hymns you played at the funeral.”
  • – “Thank you for the beautiful flowers.”
  • – “We are grateful for the donation you made in memory of [Deceased’s Name].

 

For a longer note the basic structure is:

Dear [Name of person],

Thank you for sending [flowers, gift, donation] for [deceased name’s] funeral. We appreciate your support [kindness, generosity, etc.]. Then add something specific about the gift or a memory about the recipient and the deceased.

Thank you,

Sign your name or the family’s name as appropriate.

 

About the Author

Heidi Bender, author of A Modern Guide to Writing Thank-You Notes, is on a mission to help people write thank-you notes. She has been writing thank-you notes since she was old enough to write! Check out her website, Tons of Thanks, or follow her on Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

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  1. Heidi Bender

    Thank you for having me as a guest!