How to Respond to Sympathy Cards: 15 Ways


A sympathy card is a small reminder that you’re not alone. After a loss, it’s hard to feel like there are brighter days ahead. A card that says sorry for your loss might seem simple, but it goes a long way to making you feel supported in a time of need. 

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If you receive a sympathy card, whether on its own or with another gift, it is considered proper etiquette to thank the sender. They took the time to think about you when it mattered most. It only makes sense to do the same to thank them for their kindness. 

Knowing how to respond to sympathy cards can be tricky. With so many different ways to say thank you, where do you begin? In this guide, we’ll share how to respond to sympathy cards and the best wording to use depending on the message you’re trying to send. 

Etiquette for Responding to Sympathy Cards

There’s an etiquette around most types of cards and gifts. When someone sends a token of their kindness, whether it’s flowers or a card, it’s important to let them know you appreciate this thoughtfulness. 

However, you don’t need to send a sympathy note for a card. This would just result in a never-ending cycle of needing to send cards back and forth. That being said, it’s still always considered appropriate sympathy card etiquette to call, text, or email someone to say thanks if they took the time to send a card. 

If the sender included money, flowers, or another gift with their sympathy card, you might want to do something a little bit extra. Sending a simple thank you card is more than enough, though it’s understandable if you choose to send a text or email instead. Most people recognize that it can get busy after you lose someone special. Do what you can when you can. 

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How to Thank Someone for a Card With Money

If someone sends a card with money, this is an incredibly thoughtful gift as funerals and final arrangements can be quite expensive. 

When someone sends some funds to help make this burden a little lighter, it’s truly a meaningful gift. Make sure they know how much you value their kindness with these “thank you” messages and actions below. 

1. Thank them in the funeral program. 

If someone helped you pay for funeral expenses, it’s thoughtful to acknowledge them for going above and beyond. An easy way to do this is by including their name in a section titled “thank you” in the funeral program or memorial program. This also is a great memento for their good deed. 

2. Bake them something special. 

A small way to repay this kindness is to bake them something special. Whether you choose a family recipe or simple cookies, everyone loves to receive something sweet. Gifting baked goods is a small but sweet way to show appreciation. 

3. “Thank you so much for the donation in [Name]’s honor. It would have meant so much to them.” 

Many times it can be polite to ask for a donation in lieu of flowers or another funeral gift. If someone made a donation to a cause that mattered to you, your family, or the deceased, let them know this doesn’t go unnoticed with a message. 

4. “My family appreciates your generosity. Thank you so much.” 

If someone gifted money with their sympathy card, keep your response simple. You can send a card, text, email, or even pick up the phone. If possible, let them know how you plan to use this money. For example, tell them that it will go towards funeral flowers or the burial marker. 

5. “Thank you for the money given at [Name]’s passing. Your contribution was donated to the American Heart Association in [Name]’s honor. Thank you for making this possible.” 

Sometimes you don’t personally need the gifted money to prepare for funeral or burial arrangements. If not, you can still put these funds to use by making a donation in the deceased person’s honor to a cause that meant something to them. Sharing where you made the donation with the sender helps them feel included. 

How to Thank Someone for a Sympathy Card With a Gift

If someone sent a sympathy card with a gift, make sure they know their efforts are valued. Common gifts might be gift cards, flowers, or even something sentimental like family photos. 

Taking a few minutes to thank them with one of these messages or actions below is really powerful.

6. “The flowers you sent for [Name]’s funeral were stunning, and I know they would have loved them. Thank you for your kindness.” 

For a flower gift, show your appreciation. If possible, mention what the flowers looked like and how they impacted you. Funeral flowers are a small reminder of life, warmth, and beauty on the darkest of days.

7. “I can’t thank you enough for your generous gift. My family will be sure to put it to good use.” 

If someone sent a small gift, keep your message short and sweet. If possible, share how you’ll use it. However, the sender will understand if you’re too busy to give a longer message. 

8. “Thank you for the food you brought to our family’s home after [Name]’s passing. It was delicious, and it was exactly what we needed.”

Another common gift is food. Food is one of life’s basic forms of comfort, and having something sustaining to eat in a time of need is very helpful. Let the gift giver know that you appreciated this delicious act of kindness.

9. “Thank you so much for sending along so many touching photos of [Name]. These brought us so much joy in this difficult time.” 

If someone took the time to send you family photos or photos of the deceased, let them know how much this meant to you. Family photos are truly invaluable, especially after a loss.

10. “I am so grateful for all of your help leading up to [Name]’s funeral. I don’t know what we would have done without you.” 

Finally, if someone was there for you in a time of need, thank them for lending a helping hand. Actions truly speak louder than words, so be sure you’re there for them when the opportunity presents itself. 

How to Thank Someone Who Only Sent a Sympathy Card

Lastly, thank someone even if they only sent a sympathy card. A sympathy card might be small, but it’s still very meaningful. This kindness is always appreciated, so letting them know that you received your card goes a long way. 

11. “Thank you for all of your support. Your words of comfort were truly touching.” 

It’s not easy to know what to say after someone experiences a loss. Thank the card sender for taking the time to think of the right words in this difficult time. 

12. “Thank you so much for your beautiful card. I appreciate you being there for me.” 

For someone who you might not be very close to, less is more. Don’t feel pressured to write more than you feel comfortable with. This type of simple message is more than enough to show thanks. 

13. “I appreciate you calling to check on me after my loss, and thank you for the card. I am so thankful to have you as a friend.” 

The ones who are there for you in your hardest moments are the truest of friends and family. Acknowledge the strength of your relationship with a kind message like this one above. 

14. “Thank you for your beautiful card and for attending [Name]’s funeral. The story you shared about your holiday party still brings a smile to my face.”

It’s also important to thank someone if they attended the funeral, particularly if they shared a personal story about your loved one. Attending a funeral is never easy, so make sure they know their presence was appreciated. 

15. “This passing was so hard for me. I am so thankful for your support. It really means a lot to me.” 

Last but not least, it’s okay to admit that this experience has been difficult. Being vulnerable with how you feel is its own form of strength, so don’t be afraid to include this in your thank you message. 

The Art of Saying Thank You

Knowing how and when to say “thank you” is truly an art form. While sending funeral thank you cards is a great first step, this might not be necessary or the right step depending on the situation. Let the ideas and wording above be your guide. 

The most important thing to remember is that good deeds deserve to be noticed. Whether someone sent a small card or a monetary donation, they’ll appreciate you taking the time to acknowledge their generosity. These “thank you” messages are their own form of support. 

If you're looking for more ways to say thank you, read our guides on how to respond to sorry for your loss and appreciation gifts.

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