Whether you love it or hate it, social media has become one way that people announce a death in the family. When they do, it’s appropriate to respond via the same platform.
You can choose to do so by commenting on the post, writing a separate message on their wall, or sending a private note through the Messenger app. In fact, a lot has been written on how to offer condolences through Facebook.
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Some Facebook users send out blanket statements to all of their connections, while others respond to each message individually either by responding to individual posts or through the private Messenger app.
Here are some ideas for how to tell people “thank you” for their expressions of sympathy after you’ve lost a loved one.
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It’s not easy to convey how you feel online, especially to your entire friend list. Use these tips and messages to help you get it right.
1. Don’t feel the need to respond to messages of sympathy immediately.
You can write, “I would like to take this time to sincerely thank those who have sent cards, messages, and texts over the last month. Your words have meant a lot to me as I mourn the loss of my mother. I apologize for not responding to each message personally, but please know that each note brought me comfort during this difficult time.”
2. Avoid unnecessary details regarding the death.
Here’s one way to respond: “Thank you all for the notes and kind words that you have sent after the unexpected loss of my brother. I have shared the messages with the other members of my family, and they have brought great comfort to us as we grieve our loss.”
3. You may feel it necessary to announce the death as you respond to messages.
It might look something like this: “Many of you have already heard about the recent death of my father. He passed away last Tuesday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. As I mourn the loss, I have been comforted by the messages and kind words many of you have sent. Thank you for thinking of my family and me.”
4. Keep the messages short and to the point.
You could say, “Thank you all for your kind messages and words. I appreciate all your thoughts and prayers.”
5. Avoid disclosing any family drama when responding to messages of condolences.
A message could look like this: “Thank you to those who expressed condolences when my ex-husband passed. I will share those messages with our children. They appreciate your thoughts and prayers through this difficult time.”
6. You may want to use your Facebook post to describe your loved one who passed.
Here’s an idea: “I sincerely appreciate each message sent after my mother’s death. My mom was an amazing, strong woman. Not only did she raise five children, but she also worked alongside my dad on the family farm. She drove grain trucks, maintained a huge garden, volunteered at every church function, and was an active member of our community. She is already terribly missed.”
7. You may need to send thanks to those who don’t have social media accounts.
It could look like this: “To my friends and family members who knew my mother-in-law: My husband and I would like to thank you for the cards and texts we received after her death last week. This has been a difficult time for Mike and the rest of the family. He wanted me to pass on his appreciation for those who have reached out to him.”
8. Perhaps you would like to use your post to remind people that life is short.
It might go like this: “We were stunned by the recent passing of our father. Many of you have reached out to me to offer help. The only thing I ask all of you to do is to cherish the time you spend with your family. Life is unexpected, and you don’t know how much time you have left. Put away your petty differences and love one another.”
9. Some chose to write Facebook posts that tell others about their faith.
It could look like this: “Even though I am saddened by the recent loss of my sister, I know that she is now free of disease and rejoicing with our Father in heaven. Thank you for all your sweet thoughts and prayers.”
10. You may want to use Facebook to say that written thank you notes are coming.
Here’s an idea: “My family and I greatly appreciate the massive outpouring of sympathy we have received after the recent loss of our mother. We appreciate the flowers, plants, meals, cards, and messages we have received. We do plan to send individual notes to everyone but I just wanted to let you know that these gestures have warmed our hearts. We love you all.”
Hopefully, most people who send a message of condolence through social media will do so through a private message. Unless a person announces a death on their Facebook wall, it is not appropriate to post a message of sympathy for all to see.
Here are some ways to respond to those personal messages.
11. Some messages may come with stories about your loved one that you recently lost.
Here’s an example: “I loved reading your story about my sister. I’ve never heard it before, and it really exemplifies her carefree, loving spirit. Thank you again.”
12. Some may offer help during your time of need.
Here’s a good way to do this: “Thank you for reaching out to me during this difficult time. We appreciate your offer of a meal, and we graciously accept it. We have been busy with funeral plans, and finding time to take care of daily tasks has been a struggle. Thank you.”
13. Feel free to write quick responses.
It could be as simple as: “I appreciate your kind thoughts. Thank you.”
14. You may want to turn to social media to thank someone for attending the visitation or funeral.
Thanks could look like this: “I wanted to let you know how touched I am that you took the time to attend my father’s funeral. I really appreciate the gesture. It brought a great deal of comfort to me to know that I have a good friend like you.”
15. Some people struggle to know how to offer condolences and others don’t use the best manners. Don’t feel that you need to respond to those messages.
If you do, say, “Thank you for the message.” Take the high road, even if it’s difficult.
16. Most people do not write a formal thank you note when they receive a sympathy card.
Instead of writing a funeral thank you card, you may want to acknowledge the gesture with a simple note via Messenger.
You could say, “I just received your card in the mail. Thank you so much for this kind gesture. It means a lot to me.”
17. You may not feel like talking on the phone as you grieve.
It is appropriate to send a private message to those who call, whether they leave a voicemail or not.
Say, “I noticed that you recently called. Please let me apologize for sending the call to voicemail. I am not able to talk right now, but please know I appreciate you reaching out to me during this difficult time. I am doing as well as can be expected. The only thing I ask of you right now is to keep our family in your thoughts and prayers.”
18. You may send a direct message for someone particularly close to your family member who passed.
Here’s a good option: “I just wanted to let you know what a blessing your friendship was to my mother. She cherished your time together, and I know you are mourning her loss as much as we are. Peace and comfort to you.”
19. If you are friends with your family member’s caregivers on social media, you may want to send a message to them as well.
“Thank you so much for all the loving care you gave my father in recent years. My family doesn’t know how we would have been able to keep dad at home without your help. Even though dad may have been difficult to work with at times, you responded with such incredible grace and humor. Thank you for your service.”
20. Some families choose to have private funerals. Here’s how to respond to a message asking about the services.
“Thank you for reaching out to us during this difficult time. Our family has chosen to have a private funeral service to celebrate the life of our mother. We know many of you were close to mom and would have liked to attend, but we made a choice based on what was best for our family. We do appreciate your kind thoughts.”
Say the Right Thing on Facebook When It Matters Most
These examples will help you express gratitude to others who have offered condolences. It’s sometimes hard to put your thoughts into words as you struggle with your emotions.
Don’t worry about scripting the perfect response. Your friends will understand you’re struggling in most cases. Instead of judging you on your word choice, they should be empathetic to the grief you experience.
Looking for more help with saying thank you? Read our guide on how to thank the public for sympathy.