Proper Etiquette for Thank You Notes for Funerals

The family of the deceased should always send out thank you notes for donations, flowers and food.
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The outpouring of love and help you receive in the aftermath of a loss can be as overwhelming as it is appreciated. After a funeral, the prospect of thanking everyone might seem impossible. While you don't need to reach out to everyone who comes to the funeral or sends a sympathy card, it's proper etiquette to send a short thank you note to anyone who offered extraordinary support.

1 Who Should Get a Thank You?

People who deserve a thank you note after a funeral include pallbearers, friends who send flowers and gifts, anyone who contributes money to a charity in memory of the deceased and the funeral service officiant. If a neighbor, close friend or a member of your extended family has delivered food to your house, offered to babysit your kids while you visit with the funeral director or been otherwise thoughtful, he should also get a thank you note.

2 When to Send Notes

No strict time frame exists for when the thank you note must be sent, but certainly you should try to send the notes as soon as possible. If a considerable amount of time passes, such as two or three months, acknowledge the time lapse in the note. For instance, you may begin the thank you with "I'm sorry there was such a delay in sending this card, but thank you... ."

3 Writing the Thank You

Handwritten notes are the best way to offer a thank you for offerings of sympathy, according to Emily Post. While it's acceptable to use a printed card from a funeral home or other source, you should add a personalized, handwritten note on the card or with the card. The thank you only needs to be two to three lines long.

4 Formality

Since expressions of sympathy are typically personal in nature, your thank you note can be pretty informal. For instance, address the recipient by first name or the nickname you usually call him and not by his full name. Thank you notes should be sincere and personal, not as if written by a formula, so focus on expressing what's in your heart over all else.

Lara Webster has been writing professionally since 2009. Her work has been featured on Relationships in the Raw, The Nursery Book, Spark Trust and several travel-related websites. Webster holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Arts in mass communication and media studies, both from San Diego State University.