What to Say In a Thank You Note

Sympathy thank you noteA sympathy thank you note only needs to contain a simple sentence or two. The important thing is that you are acknowledging someone’s thoughtfulness. Your message can be brief as long as it is heartfelt.

Many people choose to include a short personal note using preprinted sympathy thank you cards. If you prefer, you can use a blank note card.  Thank you cards can be purchased from the funeral home, gift shops, department stores, stationery stores, or from online printing services that specialize in funeral products.

It’s always good etiquette to make your message sincere and personal. Your goal is to express gratitude for the kindness shown to you and your family. Whatever sentiment you include in your message, the person receiving your note will appreciate the time you have taken to say thank you. There is no need to worry about what to write. As long as your message is appropriate for the situation, you will say the right thing.

To help you get started on crafting what you’d like to say, we have included a variety of tips and examples.

Top Tips for Writing a Sympathy Thank You Note

  • Don’t worry if time has passed since the funeral. While it’s best to get your notes in the mail within a few weeks of the funeral, people will understand if it takes a month or two.
  • Ask for help if you need it. The number of thank you notes that need to be sent out can increase quickly. Don’t be afraid to ask family members to help.
  • Break the list into pieces. Tackling the entire list at once can be overwhelming. Breaking the task up into manageable pieces can make it easier to get started.
  • Your signature can include other family members. If you’re sending a sympathy thank you note to someone on behalf of your entire family, signing it “the family of …..” is perfectly acceptable. This allows the sender to encompass the gratitude of all members of the family. If sympathies have been extended primarily to you, it’s fine to simply sign your own name.
  • Include your last name or the full name of the deceased in the note. Be sure to include your last name when thanking those who aren’t close friends (for example, the office or workplace of your loved one). This is especially important if you are a bit late (or very late) in sending out your acknowledgments.
  • Short but meaningful is the goal. A simple 1 to 3 sentence thank you is all that is needed as long as it is personal and comes from the heart. You can purchase sympathy thank you notes that come with a preprinted message or blank note cards for your message. Even if you use preprinted notes, you should add a brief personal message.

Examples of What to Say in a Sympathy Thank You Note

There are countless ways to phrase your expression of gratitude. Below are some typical sentiments that you can use to get started.

  • Thank you for your sympathy and kindness.
  • We deeply appreciate your expression of sympathy.
  • Thank you for your support at this difficult time.
  • Thank you for your prayers and thoughts.
  • We are grateful for friends like you at this time of sorrow.
  • We appreciate having you with us at this difficult time in our lives.
  • Thank you for the support and comfort you provided.

What do I say in a sympathy thank you note for condolence flowers?

Sending flowers to acknowledge the loss of someone is one of the most common expressions of sympathy. You will likely have a number of thank you cards for funeral flowers to write. Below are some examples of things you might say.

  • The [wreath/arrangement] you sent to the funeral home was stunning. We greatly appreciate your thoughtfulness and consideration during this difficult time.
  • The flowers you sent in honor of ____________ was one of our favorite arrangements. It meant the world to us to have your support.
    Thank you for your kindness in sending flowers to the funeral home for ___________________’s funeral. The arrangement was beautiful and ____________________ would have loved them.
  • Thank you so much for the lovely [wreath/arrangement] you sent to ____________________’s funeral.  I know ___________ would have been very touched
    by your thoughtfulness.
  • Thank you for sending the beautiful [wreath/arrangment]. Your kindness and thoughtfulness meant so much to us.
  • The flowers you sent brought such beauty and light to the room. I know that _______________ would have loved them.
  • It was so kind of you to send the spectacular [wreath/arrangement] to ___________________’s funeral. We are very grateful to have you in our lives.
  • Thank you for the gorgeous [wreath/arrangement]. That was very kind of you and I/we feel so grateful to have you in my life/our lives.

What do I say in a sympathy thank you note for a cash donation?

It is appropriate to send a thank you note if someone has made a donation in the deceased’s name. While it is considered bad form to state the dollar amount that is given, there are other ways express gratitude for cash gifts appropriately. You may also find yourself receiving a cash donation. Acknowledging cash can be a little awkward but there are many ways to say thank you. Below are a few suggestions to help:

  • Thank you for your kindness in remembering _________ with your donation. Your thoughtfulness and generosity are much appreciated by the entire family.
  • We are so appreciative of your generosity. Your donation in honor of ___________ will help fund the grave marker. Thank you so very much.
  • It was so kind of you to make a donation to the family in honor of _____________. We are pleased to pay it forward by sending a gift to the ______ charity, which was dear to _________’s heart. Thank you for your generosity and kindness.
  • Your donation in honor of __________’s memory touched us deeply. Thank you for your generosity and thoughtfulness, and may God bless you.
  • We appreciate your thoughtful donation to ____________ in memory of ______________.
  • Thank you so much for the generous donation to the __________ in ________’s name. As you know, he suffered from __________ for years before his passing, and this was the perfect gift in his memory.
  • Thank you so much for the generous donation to the __________ in ________’s name. As you know, supporting  __________ was a passion for _____________ for many years. Your donation was the perfect way to honor her memory.

What do I say in a sympathy thank you note for sympathy food and meals?

  • Thank you so much for providing a meal for our family! It was wonderful to be able to have one less meal to worry about during this difficult and busy time.
  • Bringing dinner to our home was extremely generous and very much appreciated. We are grateful to have friends like you!
  • It meant so much that you took the time to prepare food for us. Not only was it delicious it was greatly appreciated!
  • The kindness you showed by taking the time to cook for us brought a great deal of comfort and relief during this difficult time. Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness.
  • Thank you so much for bringing ________________________ for the after funeral reception. The _____________ was particularly delicious.
  • You made my day so much easier by bringing _________________ for the family to enjoy after the funeral. It was so nice to be able to spend time with the family without worrying about preparing dinner.
  • The casseroles you brought to the house were just with we needed! We enjoyed them for days. I don’t know what we would have eaten without them. Thank you for thinking of us

Addressing your acknowledgments

Thank you notes should be sent to people at their own address. It is generally not proper to include a person’s name on a card and send it to an address where they do not live unless it is addressed something like this: “Joe Smith, c/o Sue Anderson.” You should only do this if you cannot locate an address for the recipient and are sure that the person you are sending it “in care of” is willing to deliver it to the recipient.

What about the return address? If you’re a woman whose spouse has died, you are still “Mrs. John Smith,” and it is perfectly proper to use that title in your return address. “Sally Smith” is acceptable too. “The Smith Family” also is fine, if you’re writing on behalf of your family.

Should you use a preprinted return address label that includes the name of the deceased? Although good etiquette recommends a handwritten return address, using a preprinted label is a call only you can make. If you feel comfortable with it, or feel that it honors the memory of your loved one, then, by all means, use your “John and Sally Smith” address label.

Have you thought about planning ahead? The loss of a loved one is a time of transition. We may feel a need to reorganize and make sure that everything is in order for the road ahead. If you’re thinking of preplanning, our funeral planning tools can guide you through the process. Always free and always there when you need them.

Contributor: Jenny Mertes

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