Funeral Thank-You Notes

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Acknowledging expressions of sympathy at and after the funeral

As you greet guests at the funeral or memorial service, you will have opportunities to thank many of them for joining you and paying their respects. If you are unable to thank some guests that day, you may tell them later - either verbally or in writing - that you appreciated their attending your loved one's service. Click here to view sample wording for funeral and sympathy thank-you notes from The Emily Post Institute®.

Sending funeral thank-you notes after the service

Is it necessary to write a thank-you note to each person who attends the funeral or memorial service? The answer is no, although you may if you wish. Writing a note to each and every attendee is optional, often unrealistic in the case of a heavily-attended service. But if you write to thank someone for another way in which they have comforted or helped you (please see below), do add your appreciation that they attended the service.

Sending a thank-you note after a funeral or memorial service is a way to express appreciation to the professionals, relatives and friends who helped you with the service.

To whom do I send a thank-you note after the service?

  • The relative or friend who served as director of the service
  • The clergy or spiritual counselor, and any musicians who performed at the service
  • Those who sent flowers to be included in the service
  • The pallbearers, honorary pallbearers, those who offered a eulogy
  • Friends and family who helped by serving as hosts during and after the service
  • Friends and family who helped by bringing food, babysitting or driving

Thank-you notes for acts of kindness - in addition to attending the funeral

It is customary for the bereaved - or someone on his behalf - to write handwritten thank-you notes in acknowledgment of: personal sympathy notes, flowers, Mass cards, gifts of food and help with daily activities. (Note that it's personal condolence notes - not pre-printed cards - that are acknowledged.) Thank-you notes are also written to those who send charitable donations on behalf of the deceased. An exception to the custom of writing thank-yous for the above kind acts is when the friend or relative requests that the note or gift not be acknowledged - a considerate thing to do when the recipient receives a great number of condolences

A thank-you note is unnecessary (optional) in acknowledgment of: preprinted sympathy cards, emailed notes of thanks, expressions of sympathy posted on online sites, visits to see the family and attendance at the funeral or memorial service. Of course, a written thank-you is always appreciated, even when it's optional.

It is preferable to write and send your personal notes of thanks as soon as possible, but there really is no definitive timeframe for doing so.

Suggested wording for funeral thank-you notes

If you're unsure of what to write, the best advice is to keep it simple. You may write your note on either a pre-printed thank-you card or your own stationery. Single-sheet, fold-over notes or correspondence cards are all fine. A loose guideline is to send a thank-you note within two months after a funeral - but there really is no set time limit for sending your notes.

You can divide up the task of writing thank-you notes among family members. Or you can ask a close friend to help write and mail the notes. For instance, the thank-you note might read: "My sister, Karen, asks me to thank you for your beautiful flowers and kind message of sympathy."

If you order pre-printed thank-you cards for the family from a funeral home, they might read: "The Peters family would like to thank you for your kind expression of sympathy on our recent loss of Carol Peters." With pre-printed cards, it is preferable to also include your short, handwritten thank-you inside, but that is by no means a must.


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