How to Thank the Public for Sympathy After a Death

Updated

When you experience the death of a friend, loved one, or even a well-known pet, sympathy can pour in from all over. Friends you haven’t spoken with in years, your family and distant relatives, even school classmates you lost track of, will send notes of sympathy, support, concern, and care. 

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Reading through sympathy cards, social media messages, private direct messages, and texts can be overwhelming. As much as you want to thank each person individually, it might be better to thank them all at once until you can take the time to sit down and write funeral thank you cards

For situations like this, you’ll need to thank everyone for their sympathy and support. There are many ways to do this, from placing a notice in a newspaper to writing on your social media platforms. Follow the steps and samples provided to get a feel for what you can write to thank those who show how much they care.

When Should You Thank the Public for Sympathy?

It can be hard to determine when it’s time to use a large-scale platform to thank a group of people instead of trying to get around to each one. In general, here are some tips to keep in mind.

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If you need to thank up to ten people

If you’ve had a small group of people reach out and share messages of sympathy and condolence, it might be best to respond to them individually and thank them for their kindness. When you only have a handful of people to thank, it’s well worth taking the extra time to reach out and express your gratitude. This also opens up the opportunity for further communication and potential offers of help and support. 

If you need to thank ten to twenty people

Once you start going beyond ten people, thanking them individually can become difficult. At this point, you’ll want to start sending thank you messages in batches, such as through a group text or private social media message. Send your thank yous in batches that make the most sense, such as grouping close friends together and grouping family members together.

If you need to thank twenty people or more

When you’re dealing with a larger group of people, then it’s time to head to social media platforms to publicly express your thanks to the entire group. People generally understand that when you take to a public platform to thank everyone for their sympathy, you’ve received so many messages that it’s impossible to thank each person separately. You can even say something along those lines in your message of gratitude.

Naturally, the larger the group of people you need to thank, the larger your platform should be. A group message might be appropriate for a group of friends, but a public statement on your social media page will reach large crowds.

If the group of people you need to thank is particularly large, such as an entire town, then you’ll want to utilize methods such as a press release or a newspaper entry to reach those people in particular.

How to Choose What Platform to Use to Send the Message

Choosing the right platform is essential to make sure as many people as possible will receive your message of thanks. Here are several tips to keep in mind when you choose a platform.

How many people are you thanking? 

This is one of the biggest factors that determines what platform you’ll choose. If you’re thanking a smaller group of people, you might send individual text messages, emails, thank you cards, or instant messages. If you have groups of people you’d like to thank at the same time, you can combine their contact information and thank them in a group text or instant message. 

Do you have large groups of people that you can’t thank individually or in smaller groups? Then it’s probably time to branch out and thank them through a public statement on your favorite social media platform.

What are the demographics of your target group?

Consider the age and demographics of the people you’re thanking. If most of them don’t use Twitter, then thanking them on that platform won’t go very far. Choose your platform according to what you know about the crowd you need to thank.

What kind of message do you want to send?

You might be able to narrow down available platforms according to the length of the message you want to send. Do you want to send a lengthy message with pictures and video? Go with Facebook. Is brevity your preference? Choose Twitter. Consider what each platform is known for and proceed accordingly.

What is the platform best for?

Need a quick breakdown to help you choose? Here are some quick tips for each platform.

Facebook: Best for reaching the most people publicly and sharing lengthy messages with pictures and video. Built-in features such as private chats and Facebook Stories provide two more outlets to share thanks within the same platform.

YouTube: Ideal for sharing a video where you publicly thank people for their support. People can comment on your video with messages of support and share it on other popular social media platforms.

Instagram: Popular with Millenials and younger generations, this platform is useful to share a brief written message with videos and pictures attached. Instagram is integrated with Facebook, enabling seamless sharing of stories across platforms.

Twitter: Best when you want to share a short post thanking people for their support. Use this platform in addition to a second option to reach your entire crowd.

WhatsApp and WeChat: If you have a lot of people to thank who live outside of America, these might be the apps they’re more familiar with. 

Newspaper or Press Release: If the public you're thanking consists of an entire town or a tremendously large group of people, a newspaper or press release might be the best way to go. What you write for the article or release can then be published on social media platforms, as well.

Steps for Thanking the Public for Their Sympathy in a Newspaper, Social Media, or Another Platform

Whether you’ve received hundreds of messages on social media or an outpouring of phone calls and texts, responding to condolences is an important way to say thanks for your support.

Let friends, family, and everyone in between know that you’re grateful for their messages by following these simple steps.

Choose a platform

This first step might be the most important. If you only use one platform to share your note of gratitude, decide carefully. The place where you share your message should be easily accessible and familiar to the majority of your group.

If the majority of your family and friends don’t use Instagram or Twitter, it won’t help to write a thank you note on those platforms. Same with newspapers or Facebook. Determine which platform is the best for your group of friends and relatives and write your message there.

Choose a contingency platform

How are you going to thank family and friends who may not use the platform you’ve chosen? Is there a way your message can be shared with them?

Perhaps you’ll need to make print copies of your message and send them to a few relatives. Maybe you want to text them with an edited screenshot of your social media message. You’re sure to have a few people who may not get your message but try your best to include everyone with a contingency plan as a backup for your main method of communication.

Choose the length of your message

Depending on your platform, you’ll need to tailor the length of your message. Newspapers, Twitter, and community papers all have specific word counts submissions must abide by. If you’re saying thank you for your condolences on Facebook or a personal blog site, you can write as much or as little as you desire. 

Newspapers typically charge according to word count, so keep a budget in mind when crafting a message for submission. Some community papers might not charge anything if the person who passed away was a prominent community member. 

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Address your message

The address is the first thing people will see, so it’s important to keep it short and to the point, yet meaningful. Consider using terms such as, “to all of Bud’s family and friends” or “to the Clearwater community.” Make sure that the address is inclusive of everyone you intend to message.

Write the body of your message

Writing the body of your message is the hardest part of note writing. How do you say thank you so it sounds sincere instead of cliched? It may help to write bullet points on a separate sheet of paper to decide what you want to add. Consider:

  • Thanking them for their presence at the funeral
  • Appreciation for cards and gifts
  • Expressing gratitude for donations made in the deceased’s honor
  • Sharing gratitude for community support 
  • Thanking them on behalf of the deceased
  • A blessing for the reader
  • A quote from the deceased

Sign off

This is the final part of the thank you note everyone will see. Even if you’re sending a message into a newspaper, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you can still include a signature at the end.

Keep it short and brief and use familiar phrases such as, “Love, the Johannsen family” or “With thanks and gratitude, Gary, Jen, Barb, and Steph Brunsen.” 

Proofread your message

After you’ve written your message, read it over to look for typos such as misspells and missing words. Once you’re happy with it, check it again to make sure it qualifies for your specific submission guidelines. Check for a word count on newspaper submissions so no part of your message gets cut off. Make sure your character limit is in line with Instagram’s and Twitter’s policies. See how the layout of your message looks on Facebook. 

Submit your message

After you’ve written and proofed your message, submit it to the appropriate platform. Keep in mind that newspapers have submission deadlines, whereas social media platforms post instantly.

If you want your message to go out on a specific day, coordinate the publishing time accordingly. 

Sample Public Thank You for Your Sympathy Notes

If you feel like you struggle with knowing just how to respond to condolences, take some inspiration from one of these public thank you for sympathy examples. 

Sympathy thank you notes for the newspaper

Dear Bob Bensen’s family, friends, and acquaintances,

Thank you for your outpouring of love, kindness, concern, and encouragement after our beloved father, grandfather, husband, and friend Bob passed away. Receiving your notes, cards, letters, texts, and messages on social media overwhelmed us. Not only did we see how much we were loved, but we got to see firsthand how much Bob was loved by everyone who knew him. We wish we could thank each one of you in person. Your love has blessed us more than we can say. May each one of you be blessed with good health, a long life, and love that surrounds you each day.

Love,
The Bensen family

Sympathy thank you post for Facebook, Instagram, or another social media site

To all of our friends, family, and relatives,

I can’t tell you enough how much your thoughtfulness and love have meant to my family and me during these trying times. Losing our little girl has been the hardest experience we’ll ever go through. The pain is deeper and hurts more than anything we could have imagined. Needless to say, these days have been the darkest of our lives. If it hadn’t been for your cards, messages, notes of love, meals showing up at our doorstep, and selfless gestures of watching our two boys while my husband and I took care of arrangements, I don’t think we would have made it. Each of you has been the sole source of light and hope in our lives these past few weeks. I can’t thank you enough for lifting us up while we process Sydney’s death and the hole she’s left in our hearts and lives.

Thank you for sharing your memories, pictures, and funny stories that you had with our precious daughter. She loved each and every one of you fiercely. Her teachers, playmates, Sunday school friends, and family were all she would talk about, and I know she’s watching over us all. May we keep her memory alive by loving others, doing good for those around us, and living life to the fullest.

We love and appreciate each of you,
Stephanie, Braden, Bradley, and Cooper

Sympathy thank you post for a place of worship, neighborhood, or community newsletter

To the Beth Shalom community,

On behalf of our beloved Daniel Merkowitz, we want to thank each of you for your love, kindness, thoughtfulness, and encouragement. Daniel was loved by so many. As the patriarch or the Merkowitz family, he set the example of what it meant to love your neighbor and community. So many of you have come to one of our family members with stories of how Daniel helped you in a time of need, encouraged you through a difficult season, or simply sat and listened when you needed someone who cared.

On behalf of the entire Merkowitz family, it is our earnest hope and prayer that Daniel’s legacy lives on. May we appreciate his selflessness and allow his example to be a model for our own lives. Daniel brought the Beth Shalom community together through a singular focus for unity, brotherhood, and love. Your demonstration of those principles has been an incredible comfort to our family. We had no idea the extent of our Daniel’s impact until the cards, flowers, notes, and messages started pouring in from our beloved Beth Shalom family. 

We are eternally grateful to be part of this community. We cannot thank you enough for gathering around us at this time. In the words of the late Daniel Merkowitz, “To love well and feel the pain of loss is far better than never having loved at all.”

With Gratitude,
The Merkowitz family

Sympathy thank you note for a press statement

To our friends, loved ones, fans, and supporters,

Jessica, the wife of Greg Matthews, along with their children, Frank, Ralph, and Stephanie wish to thank each person who showed such tremendous support, sympathy, and kindness upon learning of the passing of the late Greg Matthews.

We wish to thank our dedicated and committed extended family, relations near and far, neighbors, and friends who showed up, helped, and supported us every step of the way. Thank you to everyone who came to the funeral and demonstrated such an outpouring of love for the Matthews family.

A huge thank you to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center doctors, nurses, and staff for their devotion, expertise, and compassion as our family walked through the last two years. We could not have asked for a better team to rally around Greg and our family as we faced the devastation of his cancer diagnosis.

To the many others who helped by preparing meals, watching grandchildren so Greg’s kids could visit, sending flowers and cards to brighten Greg’s days, helping arrange details of the funeral and memorial service, and a thousand other things that we can’t begin to list here, thank you.

We wish we could thank each one of you in person and hear stories of how Greg has impacted your lives. We are comforted knowing that his legacy lives on through each of you. To each and every one of you who have been in our lives in some way, we think of you all like family, and we are deeply grateful for your support.

Express Your Gratitude

Cards, notes, messages, and letters of condolence are often sent with no expectation of a message in return. However, it’s always a good thing to let your friends and family know that their messages meant something to you. It only takes a few minutes to let people know that their thoughtfulness encouraged you and your family in your time of need. 

If you're looking for more help on thanking loved ones for sympathy, read our guides on how to respond to "I'm sorry for your loss" and online condolence etiquette

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