Writing Funeral Thank You Notes
One of the aspects of planning a funeral that can be the most emotionally draining is writing thank-you notes in the days and weeks following the memorial service. From the people who helped you plan the funeral to those who sent flowers, it’s good funeral etiquette to acknowledge individual contributions with a thank you note.
Unfortunately stress and grief often make this simple task too difficult to even comprehend. If you find yourself facing the task of writing thank yous but aren’t sure where to start, here are a few helpful tips:
• You don’t have to acknowledge everyone: Although you certainly can mail a thank you card to everyone who sent you a sympathy card or came to the memorial service, it isn’t required. In most cases, these people understand your grief and don’t expect anything from you. To keep things simple, pare down your list to those who sent items (funeral flowers, food for the memorial service, donations) and those who helped with the funeral planning (including clergy members and musicians).
• Make a list of recipients: Keep the cards that accompany the flower arrangements, and jot down the names of all those who have pitched in to lend a helping hand. It will be easier to consult this list at a later date than to try and remember everyone you’d like to acknowledge.
• Purchase pre-printed cards: There is no need to pour out your heartfelt thanks or to elaborate on your grief. A simple acknowledgment is enough. Purchase memorial thank you cards or even blank cards with a moving image on the front and sign them from your entire family. That way, you can recruit help in filling out and mailing the cards.
• Take your time: There is no strict timeline for funeral thank you cards (though experts recommend two weeks), so don’t feel pressured to have everything finished and in the mail right away. Use this time to work through your emotions and get back to your life, and keep the thank yous on the back burner if you need to.
• Recruit help: The thank you cards don’t have to come directly from your or even be written in your hand. Most people are happy to provide assistance in any way they can, even if that means helping you with this task. Be sure and ask your helpers to keep a list of recipients, however, so you will be able to more adequately relay your appreciation at a future date.
No amount of funeral pre-planning can account for tasks such as sending out thank you notes. Like finding ways to cope with your grief, what you do in the days and weeks following a death is a personal and emotional experience almost no one is prepared for. Although funeral etiquette dictates that funeral thank you notes should make up part of the process, there is some flexibility in how you proceed. Get the help you need and take your time—the people who really care about you will understand.