Etiquette for Thank You Notes After a Death

by Flora Richards-Gustafson

When you have lost a loved one you'll want to thank all of your friends and family that stepped up and helped you get through the tough days when everything seemed unbearable and too much to handle. You'll also want to acknowledge those who shared your tears, offered kind words and a tissue.

Thank You Note Timelines

It is not wrong to wait two weeks to send thank you notes after the death of a loved one or her funeral. It is also acceptable to wait a month, after other details surrounding the death have been sorted and you have had time to take care of yourself. Experts advise, however, that you should not wait longer than two months to send thank you notes.

Who Should Write a Thank You Note?

Traditionally, the bereaved is the person who writes a thank you note to acknowledge the help and kindness given by others. However, if the bereaved is still struggling to cope with the loss, it is acceptable for a friend or family member to assist with the note-writing on his behalf or to include the bereaved in a note from the family.

Those Who Should be Given a Thank You Note

Clergy that assisted with services should always be sent a personal note. However, send any monetary offerings in a separate envelope. Those who sent you flowers should be acknowledged. If a group or organization sent flowers, address the note to the leader of the group, but all the members should be recognized in the note. For flowers that had several names on a card, a thank you note should be sent to each individual listed on the card. Pallbearers should each receive a note of gratitude for their important services. Friends and family members who volunteered in any way (driving, providing meals, taking care of arrangements, minding the children, etc.) should each be given a thank you note as well.

The Kind of Thank You Note to Send

It is tradition to hand-write a thank you note to all the individuals who helped during a time of need. However, it is also acceptable to simply only write your signature in a pre-made thank you card. Clergy, pallbearers and those who were of significant service to you should ideally get a thank you note with a personal message. However it is acceptable to send a pre-made card to those who sent flowers, with a little note stating your appreciation.

What to Say in Thank You Notes

A thank you note can simply state you are thankful for an item received (like flowers), and why that was important to you. For longer notes, include your thanks for the recipient's time, energy, reliability, etc. Let the person know you were thankful that they shared in the remembrance of a loved one, and how fortunate you feel knowing the departed knew the recipient of the note.

About the Author

Flora Richards-Gustafson has been writing professionally since 2003. She creates copy for websites, marketing materials and printed publications. Richards-Gustafson specializes in SEO and writing about small-business strategies, health and beauty, interior design, emergency preparedness and education. Richards-Gustafson received a Bachelor of Arts from George Fox University in 2003 and was recognized by Cambridge's "Who's Who" in 2009 as a leading woman entrepreneur.

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