When you lose someone close to you, many of the other important people in your life typically offer condolences. Their support can help you cope with one of life’s greatest challenges, grief.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Step 1: Make a List
- Step 2: Think of Specific Ways People Offered Support
- Step 3: Get Organized
- Bereavement Thank You Note Examples
Naturally, when you feel emotionally prepared, you’ll want to thank the friends and family who were there for you when you needed them. Many of us consider it very important to let the people who helped us through an emotionally trying time know we appreciate them. Sending bereavement thank you notes is one way to do so.
Don’t worry if you’re not sure what to include in a bereavement thank you note or email. The following tips and examples will make the process of expressing your gratitude in an authentic way much easier.
Step 1: Make a List
This is a simple step, but it’s a crucial one. You probably want to make sure you send bereavement thank you notes to everyone who offered their support when your loved one passed.
This step may be fairly easy to complete if you had a guestbook at the funeral. You can quickly refer to it to see who attended. This can help you ensure you don’t overlook anyone.
Just keep in mind that some people may have forgotten to sign the guestbook. Additionally, there may be people who were unable to attend the funeral but offered their condolences in other ways. Take the time to remember everyone who played important roles in your grieving process before completing your list.
Step 2: Think of Specific Ways People Offered Support
Some bereavement thank you notes may be fairly generic. If you want to express gratitude to people who attended the funeral simply, you can send a fairly standard “thank you for being there” note.
However, if other people were more directly involved, offered their support in specific ways, perhaps something more personal would suit them.
Some people may have helped you make the funeral arrangements. Others may have been there to listen when you needed someone to call. Maybe someone offered support to other family members and friends who struggled. For instance, maybe a relative or friend helped keep your kids occupied while you took some time to grieve.
Go through your list and make a note of anyone who was there for you in a very specific way. You’ll likely want to take time drafting a more detailed bereavement thank you note or email when responding to condolences they offered.
Don’t be afraid to ask for support
Looking back on the way people helped you after a loved one’s passing can be a very emotionally draining experience. Additionally, because coping with a loss is also mentally and emotionally draining, you may have forgotten the ways some people supported you. That’s okay.
Don’t be afraid to involve other people in this process. They can help you with this important responsibility when drafting bereavement thank you notes becomes too emotionally stressful. On top of that, they might remember key details you’ve forgotten. Just be sure to offer them an extra-special thank you when you’ve sent your last note.
Step 3: Get Organized
Once you have your list and you’ve made notes about the specific ways some people offered assistance, it’s time to take care of all the remaining practical steps. They include:
Sending thank you notes is a draining process. So it’s wise to be as efficient as possible. Yes, you certainly want to express your gratitude clearly and genuinely, but you also want to consider your own emotional needs.
Some people find it’s easier to complete the process efficiently when they make categories of people to whom they’re sending bereavement thank you notes. For instance, you can go through your list and make a category for the people who simply attended the funeral or called to say “Sorry for your loss.” A similar (but separate) category may include people who had to travel far to be at the funeral.
You can make another category for the funeral home staff and anyone else involved, such as a member of the clergy. The next category may include people who supported you in very specific ways. They’re the ones whose bereavement thank you notes you’ll want to spend the most time on.
Gather contact information
If you don’t have the contact information for everyone on your list, track down that info. Remember that (depending on your preferences) a thank you note doesn’t need to be something you handwrite.
In many circumstances, it’s often entirely fine to send an email. If an email address is the only contact information you have for someone on your list, you might feel free to use it.
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Even if you do email some people, there could be others to whom you’d prefer to send handwritten notes. You might also want to use special stationery.
Browse your options at a stationery or card shop. Make sure you know how much stationery you need. Purchase it all at once to save money and time.
If other people are helping you with this process, assign them duties if it makes sense to do so.
For example, if you made a category of people to whom you’re going to send relatively generic bereavement thank you notes, another family member might be able to draft and send those for you. This gives you more time to focus on the thank you notes that require more specifics.
Bereavement Thank You Note Examples
It’s important to remember that your bereavement thank you notes should be genuine and heartfelt. They should also be somewhat different depending on how they supported you.
That means you’ll probably have to modify these examples somewhat. They exist to serve as inspiration—no example can predict what you might say from the heart. You can start off with them, but you should make some personal changes before sending the notes.
Tip: You can substitute words such as “I” or “me” with “we” or “us” if you want to send a note from your entire family, and not just yourself.
For someone who attended the funeral
“Thank you so much for attending [loved one]’s funeral. It was wonderful to see you. Your presence made a difficult experience much easier. Please keep in touch, and know I’m always here for you too if you ever need me.”
For someone who traveled far to attend the funeral
“I deeply appreciate the fact that you attended [loved one]’s funeral. I know you had to travel a long way to get there. That means a lot to me, and if there is any way I can ever repay the favor, please let me know.”
For someone involved in the funeral, such as a funeral director
“Thank you so much for your help [describe the role they played, such as “making the funeral arrangements”] after [loved one]’s passing.
"You made what could have been a very difficult experience much easier. I truly believe the funeral did justice to [loved one]’s memory. I can’t say for sure that would have been the case if you hadn’t been involved. I’m deeply grateful for the role you played.”
For someone who offered guidance
“[Loved one]’s passing was very painful for me. However, thanks to you, I was able to get through it. Your guidance and support helped me realize I could overcome this experience. I’ll never be able to thank you enough.
"However, you should know that if I can ever be there for you when you need that kind of help, I would be more than happy to offer my support in any way I can.”
For someone who shared the burden
“You know [loved one]’s passing was a very trying experience. On top of coping with my own difficult emotions, I worried about handling the responsibility of [caring for my kids, staying on top of my work, etc.].
It turns out I didn’t have to worry about that. You stepped up and shared the burden. I can never repay you for that, although I’d love to. You need to know the help you offered [consider citing a specific example here] was incredibly valuable and meaningful. I’ll never forget it. Thank you for being a good person. I’m lucky you were in my life during that painful time.”
Bereavement Thank You Notes: The Importance of Gratitude
Most people don’t know what to say or do when offering support to a friend or family member who’s lost a loved one. Those who managed to be there for you deserve to know just how much their help meant.
With these bereavement thank you note tips and examples, you can be sure you’ve expressed those feelings in a way they’ll fully appreciate.