If you’ve experienced the death of a loved one, you know that you often receive comfort in unexpected ways. Our friends, families, and even our communities may step up to support us in any number of ways. They may take up collections to help with medical costs. They may make donations for funeral expenses. Or they may make donations in memory of the deceased.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Sample Letter to a Friend
- Sample Letter to a Close Family Member
- Sample Letter to a Far-Away Relative
- Sample Letter to a Business or Organization
- Sample Letter to a Client, Colleague, or Boss
- Sample Letter to Someone You Don’t Know Personally
Donations made in honor of the deceased may go to a charitable organization they supported in life. It’s hard to know what to say in the face of such generosity.
We’ve gone ahead and compiled some sample thank you letters to send to people who gave donations. When you sit down to write funeral thank you cards, you can use these sample letters as inspiration.
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Sample Letter to a Friend
It is often best to start out by writing thank you letters to friends. Because you are more familiar with them, you can be less preoccupied with formality. Starting off with thank you notes for friends can help you build your confidence.
Thank you so much for coming to my dad’s funeral. It meant so much for the family to have you there. Growing up, you were such a fixture at our house. Dad always called you his bonus daughter and I know he would have really appreciated you coming.
I also wanted to let you know we received a card from the Sarcoma Foundation of America. They let us know about the generous donation you made in Dad’s name. Thank you for such a kind gesture. As you know, Dad fought his cancer hard. He wanted to live so much. Your donation will help fund research that can hopefully give someone else better odds.
Thank you for being such a kind and supportive friend. Our family truly loves and appreciates you. We can’t express how grateful we are to have you in our corner.
Sample Letter to a Close Family Member
Close family members can also be the recipient of slightly less formal letters. It might seem strange to write a letter to a close family member instead of thanking them verbally. But the act of writing a letter can be very cathartic. It will also serve as a concrete reminder to them of your appreciation.
Dear Aunt Rebekah,
I wanted to reach out to you and thank you for your support over these past few weeks. Losing Sam so suddenly was a real shock. Honestly, the past few weeks have been very surreal. Without your support and the support from the rest of the family, I don’t know what I would have done.
As you know, the All Faiths Food Bank was a place very near and dear to Sam’s heart. We were working as volunteers there when we met, and we’ve continued to be involved with fundraising efforts over the years. I’m sure you remember, we even asked people to bring non-perishable goods in lieu of wedding gifts. You did one better and made a generous donation in our names as a wedding gift. I also received a card from them letting me know you made a donation in Sam’s memory this week.
It means so much to me that you would remember Sam’s commitment to this organization. He grew up poor, and his family relied on All Faiths for survival. It was his life’s mission to give back to them and assist them in helping other people. Your donation did more than honor him. It reminded me that even after death, his good work and acts of kindness will live on. Thank you for providing a moment of light and peace during a very dark time.
With love and gratitude,
Post-planning tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, it's tough to handle both the emotional and technical aspects of their unfinished business without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.
Sample Letter to a Far-Away Relative
When family members live farther away, they aren’t always able to attend a funeral. Instead, they may send flowers, cards, or donations. For a distant relative, you should take a more formal tone than you would with a friend or close family member. It can still be warm, but should definitely be less casual.
Dear Great Aunt Janet,
I wanted to thank you for the beautiful card you sent for Grandma Joyce’s funeral. I know that you really wanted to be there. I’m sorry that your health didn’t allow you to make the long journey.
I also really appreciated that you made a donation to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America in Grandma Joyce’s name. The last few years were really difficult. We felt like we were losing a bit more of her each day. I know you felt that loss too, as she wasn’t always able to participate in your weekly phone calls. Even though you live across the country, you felt the impact of this illness just as acutely as her local family members. Your donation can help researchers as they search for a cure. I hope one day, families won’t have to suffer the way we have.
Mom and I are planning to travel to New York soon. Once we’ve set the dates, we’d love to see if we can connect while we’re in town. We’ve missed seeing you.
All the best,
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Sample Letter to a Business or Organization
When a person dies, it’s not only their loved ones who are affected. We often have a huge impact on people without realizing it. In some cases, even local businesses or organizations will make a gesture and offer condolences on behalf of the deceased.
To the Team at Libby’s Family Restaurant,
My late wife Ella and I have eaten breakfast at your establishment every Sunday for the past twenty years. We’ve known most of you for many years. We never had children of our own, and were quite alone in the world, except for one another. But when we would come to eat with you, we always felt like part of your extended family.
I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you closed the restaurant down for the day and came to Ella’s funeral service. Truthfully, I was a little overwhelmed. I know your family and employees rely on the revenue from the restaurant being open, and on tips for income. The fact that you were willing to give up your time to come support me was an act of kindness I’ll never be able to repay.
Even though Ella is no longer with me, I’ll keep our tradition alive by continuing to visit your restaurant every Sunday. I know it will make me feel closer to her. And it will help me remember that even if I feel alone sometimes, I have some wonderful people who support me.
Sample Letter to a Colleague, Client, or Boss
We spend roughly a quarter of our lives at work. As a result, our coworkers can become like a second family. When your loved one dies, you may find that their bosses and coworkers go above and beyond in stepping up to honor your loved one.
To the whole team at Morgenstern, Ross, and Associates,
I’m reaching out to thank you for your support over the past several weeks. I’ve been out of my depth, dealing with the unexpected death of my wife. Stacey so loved working with all of you, and I understand why.
You have all showed up for my family in so many ways. Some of you dropped off meals. Some of you offered to babysit our kids so I could deal with funeral arrangements. And all of you reached out to check in on me and see how I was holding up.
Probably the gesture that meant the most to me though was the news that the company was setting up a scholarship fund in Stacey’s name. As many of you know, she was the child of poor immigrants. She worked so hard to put herself through school and achieve her dream of a career in immigration law. This scholarship fund will enable other young people in her position to reach their own educational goals. This gesture will help ensure her impact on the world is not forgotten.
Sample Letter to Someone You Don’t Know Personally
Our loved ones often have relationships with people whose paths we just never cross. It may feel strange to reach out to them via a thank you note for the first time. But it can offer a chance for a connection with someone who knew the deceased in a different way.
Dear Mr. Goldman,
We’ve never had the opportunity to meet, but I know you knew my father well. Dad has always been a gifted storyteller, and we grew up hearing about your many adventures in college. A personal favorite of mine is when you went backpacking with Dad through Europe in the 1970s, and he lost his passport in Yugoslavia. It’s probably a strange story to tell your kids. But Dad thought it was important we knew that everyone could make mistakes.
My brothers and I had hoped to finally meet you at Dad’s funeral, but we understand you had work obligations. We’d still love to catch up with you sometime in the future. We think it would be fun to hear your perspective on the stories Dad told us over the years.
Thank you so much for the card you sent after Dad passed. We were also blown away by the donation you made to The National Kidney Foundation in Dad’s name. He always said what a good friend you were to him, and he would have pointed to that gesture as an example.
Mark Swanson Jr.
The Value of Donation Thank You Cards
Dealing with the death of a loved one is always unusual and can be difficult. But sometimes, the generosity of people can provide a real bright spot.
People may donate money to charitable organizations, or they may donate their time and their presence. Regardless of the form these donations take, they can provide a great deal of comfort.
If you're looking for more ways to show thanks for your support after a death, check out our guides for how to say thank you for condolences on Facebook and how to write a thank you note to a pallbearer.
Post-planning tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, handling their unfinished business and other tasks such as thank you cards can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.