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. You can write a personal message in a preprinted sympathy card or use a blank note card.  Thank you cards can be purchased from almost anywhere including the funeral home, online printing services or local stationery stores.

It’s always good etiquette to say something sincere and personal. You are simply expressing gratitude for the kindness shown to you and your family, but don’t get stressed over what you should write.

Use these phrases as a helpful starting point:

Top Tips for Writing a Sympathy Thank You Note

  • 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…
  • Thank you for providing a meal to our family! We appreciate friends like you…
  • Thank you for the support and comfort you provided…
  • Thank you for the beautiful floral arrangement in honor of ________.
  • We appreciate your thoughtful donation to ____________ in memory of ______________.
  • 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.

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.

What Do I Say in a Sympathy Thank You Note for a Cash Donation?

It is often awkward to thank someone for giving cash. It is inappropriate to state the dollar amount given, but 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.”

Tip: 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.

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.

Remember: A simple 1 to 3 sentence thank you is all that is needed. You can purchase sympathy thank you notes that come with a preprinted message or blank note cards for your message. Even if you send the preprinted notes, you should add a brief personal message.

Contributor: Jenny Mertes

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