Funeral Card Etiquette
One of the simplest (and kindest) things you can send after the death of a friend or relative is a condolence card. This low-cost gesture show that you care and also provides the family with a keepsake memory of their loved one. Whether you write a personal message in a blank card or select one with a pre-printed saying, your contribution means a lot during this difficult time.
Here’s everything you need to know about funeral cards before you send one.
- What kind of funeral card to send? The greeting card sections of most grocery stores have a condolence/sympathy category where you can choose one that matches your feelings. Blank cards that you write yourself (or that you craft at home) are also appropriate. Stick to images that are soothing and colors that are not too bright; simple is better for this type of thing.
- When to send a funeral card? Most of the time, condolence cards are sent a few days after death occurs, typically around the time of the funeral. There is no time limit. A message that you are thinking of them and their loss, is always appropriate, especially around holidays and anniversaries.
- Who to send a funeral card to? In most cases, a funeral card goes to the immediate family of the deceased (the parents, adult children, spouse, partner, etc.). A good rule of thumb is to think about who is paying for the funeral—they are the ones likely to be grieving the most. However, you can send a sympathy card to any friend, relative, or coworker who recently experienced a loss.
- What to write in a funeral card? Common messages include famous quotes, short poems, bible verses, a favorite memory, quick statements of your affection, or even simply, “I’m thinking of you.” If you cannot think of anything to say, a pre-printed card that you sign is perfectly fine.
- How to sign a funeral card? If you are close to the family, then your name is all that is necessary to identify that the card is from you. If you are a more distant relative, friend, or community member, then take a moment to identify yourself and how you knew the deceased. It can be difficult for the family to keep track otherwise.
- How to send a funeral card to a different religion/culture? If the deceased and his or her family is from a different culture than yours (or adheres to different religious traditions), then it is best to avoid anything specifically related to God, the afterlife, or any other specific death customs. Instead, send your love and regard—these things are universal.
- Sending a funeral card when you don’t know the family? In some cases, you may wish to send a sympathy card even though you do not have any direct ties to the family. This often happens with community or celebrity deaths, when you knew the deceased a long time ago, when there has been an estrangement, or because of long distance. If there is not an address listed in the obituary or death notice, then send the card directly to the funeral home (c/o the deceased’s family). They will make sure it gets where it needs to go.