Etiquette for Sending Sympathy Thank You Cards

After the loss of a loved one, most people receive a variety of items such as gift baskets, floral arrangements, mass cards, and sympathy cards. Some may wonder if all of these things should be acknowledged with a sympathy thank you card. While it is always recommended that a floral arrangement, gift basket or mass card is acknowledged with a thank you card it is considered optional to send one when receiving sympathy cards. Sometimes, the sheer volume of cards received makes it challenging. However, the act of sending out these cards can actually assist with the grieving process.

In recognizing all the people who were so thoughtful, loving, kind, and supportive, it can help the bereaved to realize they are not alone. Writing out these greeting cards may bring about thoughts and memories of the loved one they lost, helping them to grieve.

If you are in the process of composing sympathy thank you cards, you may want to include a personal thought or two about your deceased loved one that is appropriate for the recipient or you may want to keep your note very simple by saying “Thank you for your expression of kindness.” The type of message you include depends on your relationship with the recipient. If the card is being sent to a co-worker or client the message might be brief; with family and close friends something with more meaning would be appropriate.

If a religious ceremony was performed at the funeral, you may want to send a kind note to the clergyman. It would also be nice to send a note of thanks to any special participants of the funeral service such as a pallbearer or someone who gave a speech. If you choose to send out sympathy thank you cards, an appropriate time frame to get your cards in the mail is two weeks following the funeral. However, it is understandable that you are going through a very difficult time filled with grief and sorrow. If you don't get to the cards for several weeks or even a few months, it's ok. Remember, you're not only saying thank you, you're also helping the grieving process. So do what you are emotionally capable of handling…your family and friends will understand.

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