Today family members and loved ones responsible for making final arrangements sometimes send formal thank you cards to those who expressed their condolences or provided helpful assistance to them during a funeral. While certainly not a universal practice, sending these notes offers some measure of comfort to senders and recipients during the grieving process. This brief article seeks to help anyone undertaking the challenging task of composing a funeral thank you card.
Have you struggled deciding what to write in a funeral thank you card? If so, you certainly do not find yourself alone! Virtually everyone at some point loses a loved one. Many people find it exceedingly difficult to express their emotions during this difficult experience.
If you’ve made funeral arrangements for a deceased person, you may wish to express your thanks to others. Funeral home staff members, pallbearers, and people who contributed memorials in honor of a loved one have shared your grief. Their consideration and kindness may have provided important emotional or spiritual support to you during this period. Sometimes finding the right words to convey your sentiments seems daunting.
Formal funeral thank you cards provide a useful way to help express your appreciation for the support relayed to you during an especially unhappy time in life. They help convey complex emotions in a simple, elegant way. Perhaps you’ve decided to use this type of card? This article will offer some funeral thank you card wording examples, and even some suggestions for how to sign thank you card for funeral messages.
Yet one point deserves emphasis: the examples here serve as illustrations only. You certainly do not need to follow them if you do not want to do so. The best thank you notes come from the heart.
No “right” or “wrong” rules apply in this situation, short of remembering that the recipients of your card probably still grieve the loss of your loved one, too! People deal with grief in very subjective ways. If you write with sensitivity and kindness, you cannot make a mistake. No one will fault you even if you do not choose to send a funeral thank you card.
(By the way, most experts do recommend exercising sensitivity in the context of funeral services and condolences. Mourning people frequently feel profound emotions of sorrow, grief, and loss. Unkind words or crude behavior can inflict significant damage in these situations: so never send a funeral thank you card for less than grateful reasons. If you felt angry or upset with some aspect of a funeral or memorial service, don’t use a funeral thank you card to vent that emotion.)
Many different funeral customs exist in the world today. The practice of sending funeral cards has existed for generations. Today, some genealogists use funeral cards from the late Victorian Period as research materials, for example.(1)
Whether you family has embraced the custom of sending thank you cards after funerals, or whether you’ve learned about this practice only recently, the long tradition of relaying thanks for kind acts has likely impacted most people alive today. Perhaps in the past you’ve sent a quick note of thanks to someone for giving you a gift? Or maybe you’ve written to thank a potential employer for granting you a job interview? Many occasions prompt people to convey thanks and appreciation to others.
Just like other life events, a funeral may include many acts of kindness from a variety of different people. In some close-knit communities in the United States, neighbors prepare food to give to grieving families. A nurse, a physician, or a hospital chaplain may have treated you with great sensitivity following the death of a loved one. Or perhaps a funeral home attendant or an emergency responder comforted you at the time you suffered the loss of someone dear to you?
Even if the practice of sending funeral thank you cards has not come to your attention previously, you certainly could send these notes of appreciation to anyone connected with a funeral or memorial service. This long established custom can still offer a source of consolation to people who grieve in the modern era. Consider sending funeral thank you cards following the death of a loved one if you feel inclined to do so.
No firm rules of etiquette surround the practice of sending funeral thank you cards today, short of timing this event to occur within reasonable proximity to the conduct of a funeral or a memorial service. Many people seek to complete these cards during the aftermath of a funeral, a wake, or a memorial service. Certainly sending these thank you notes within a three day to two week window of time after the ceremony would upset no one.
While the memory of small acts of kindness remains fresh in your mind, you might find it helpful to draw up a card list. It helps to compose the cards at a time when you can vividly recall each recipient’s thoughtful actions or words. If you choose to personalize your cards by including individual messages and you have a lot of people to thank, making self-reminder notes for yourself about each recipient may prove helpful.
People to consider including on your thank you card roster include pallbearers, funeral home directors and staff members, mourners, flower and memorium contributors, people who sent sympathy cards, speakers at a memorial service, and the spiritual leader conducting the funeral ceremony. You might also choose to include anyone else whose words or deeds brought your loved ones some degree of comfort at this time, or whose actions helped the service proceed smoothly.
People sometimes find it useful to obtain specific illustrations of funeral thank you card wording examples. We’ve presented several here, divided by category of recipient action and recipient status. (Sometimes these selections overlap, of course.)
The name “John Doe” refers to the deceased loved one for purposes of these illustrations only. The examples offer a general model to consider following as you compose funeral thank you cards. Consider personalizing them to fit your writing style:
Recipients by Action: Wording Examples
1. People Donating Flowers or Making Memorial Gifts
3. Funeral Home Attendants
Funeral home directors and their staff members (including musicians supplied by the funeral home) charge for their services. Amounts vary from one provider to another.
4. People Delivering Addresses at The Funeral
5. Funeral Musicians
6. People Performing Other Acts of Kindness (e.g. Nurses, Physicians, First Responders)
Physicians, nurses, and EMTs receive compensation for medical services rendered.
7. Spiritual Leaders Conducting The Service
Like funeral home staff members, spiritual leaders who conduct memorial and funeral services expect compensation for their services. It is traditional to give a donation in a prearranged amount to the minister, rabbi, imam, or other spiritual leader.
Recipients by Status: Wording Examples
3. Funeral Mourners
Perhaps you’ve wondered how to sign thank you card for funeral participation or services? Essentially, you should sign your cards in the most appropriate way. For example, if you’ve sent a message to a close family member, you might just use your first name; the recipient will certainly know who mailed the card. However, if you’ve written to a funeral home attendant or a mourner you barely know, it usually makes sense to use a more formal signature. Remember some people retain funeral thank you cards in their personal correspondence.
Keep in mind as you prepare your funeral thank you cards that most people will view your actions with a generous spirit at this time. If you make a social gaffe (e.g. by inadvertently forgetting to include sufficient postage, or by using an outdated address, or by misspelling a recipient’s name) most recipients will not find fault with you. Don’t worry about these types of mistakes right now: just do your best!
Expressing yourself while composing a funeral thank you card may cause you to grieve anew for the loss of a loved one. While painful, remember this process may actually assist you as a survivor in processing your emotions. Today, many experts believe mourning a death falls into five distinct steps. The book On Death And Dying (1969) by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross first outlined these phases:
People cycle through these stages at different paces. Sometimes they repeat some phases multiple times, or experience these steps out of consecutive order. You may have believed you had accepted the death of a close person, only to find yourself suddenly grieving the loss all over again as you complete your funeral thank you cards. Reaching full acceptance (if this ever happens) may require days, weeks, months, or even years.
If you’ve experienced an exceedingly painful loss, consider obtaining knowledgeable grief counseling assistance. Many hospitals maintain grief loss support groups to help people after the death of a loved one. These groups may extend practical assistance by suggesting constructive ways to mourn the passage of someone in your life.
Strong emotions frequently surround the issues of death, dying, and funerals. For this reason, unkind remarks during these times sometimes prove particularly hurtful. People may experience slights, real or imaginary, in this setting and magnify them many times over in their minds. Perhaps this perception accounts for the adage: “Never speak ill of the dead.”
Consequently, etiquette experts recommend keeping communications specific to the events at hand and rooted in sincere gratitude! If you attended an unpleasant funeral or memorial service, you don’t need to pretend the event proceeded well for the sake of politeness, of course. Simply don’t send an insincere thank you!
If you feel you do wish to send a thank you card, but you cannot do so on account of grief or heavy time commitments, you might ask a friend or a relative to undertake this project on your behalf. Card notification or reminder services will also sometimes accept this responsibility for a fee. People frequently find it helpful to use custom prepared funeral thank you notes.
Today some companies offer printed funeral thank you cards to send to specific funeral participants. You may (or may not) choose to include personal messages to further tailor these notes. The customized cards offer great assistance to anyone wondering what to write in a funeral thank you card.
For example, we provide stylish custom funeral thank you notes. Feel free to spend some time reviewing the available selections on our website. You’ll have many options for customizing the cards to convey your sentiments in a personal way. We’ve worded these cards carefully to help express gratitude in a compelling, heartfelt way.
If you’ve already expended a lot of emotional and physical energy since the death of a loved one, and you feel exhaustion or stress, using these cards offers a tasteful way to send a high volume of thank you cards rapidly and conveniently. We invite you to review our funeral prayer cards today and hope we can help relieve some of your stress in this difficult time. You’ll communicate your sentiments of gratitude effectively to people who have assisted you and provided you with welcome courtesy and kindness during a very painful time in your life!