How to Word a Thank You Note for Funeral Food


Planning a funeral is naturally a challenging experience. One reason why is the fact that organizing a funeral involves many tasks, all of which you might have to accomplish while navigating the grief of losing a beloved member of your circle.

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That’s why friends and family often step up in any way they can when someone close to them loses a loved one. A simple but extremely helpful way to do so is to offer funeral food. Whether prepared at home, ordered from a restaurant or caterer, or bought at the grocery store, this small gesture can mean a lot.

It’s customary to send thank you notes for funeral food when others unburden you in this way. If you’re planning on sending such letters, but you don’t know where to start, this guide will help. It explains the basic steps that go into writing funeral food thank you notes, and it offers examples to inspire your own.

Steps for Writing a Thank You Note for Funeral Food or Food After the Funeral

Steps for Writing a Thank You Note

Don’t let the idea of writing thank you notes for funeral food overwhelm you. You can dramatically simplify the process by breaking it down into individual steps:

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Make a list

You probably want to send thank you notes for funeral food to each and every person who provided something, whether it was a small side or a large meal. However, because funerals are so emotionally draining, when you sit down to write these notes, you might not immediately remember who did and didn’t bring food. Additionally, while some may have brought food with them to the funeral, others who couldn’t attend may have nevertheless sent food.

Take some time to come up with as full a list as you can. Discuss this list with other close loved ones who attended the funeral to make sure you’re not overlooking anyone.

Make sure you have the contact information of everyone on your list as well. While the guestbook for the funeral might provide some of this information, if someone sent funeral food in lieu of attending, you might need to track down their contact info.

Get specific

It’s always kind to mention the specific dishes a person brought when sending them a thank you note for funeral food. Being specific is actually good thank you note etiquette in general.

With that in mind, once you have your list of people who brought food, go through it to see if you can remember what exactly they brought or sent. No one will be upset with you for not mentioning their specific contributions in your notes, but regardless, they’ll feel your gratitude more deeply if you can do so.

Choose a method

There’s no single “right” method for sending funeral food thank you notes. It all depends on what you believe the recipient would appreciate.

Some people are completely happy receiving emails. Others would appreciate knowing you put in the effort to send a handwritten letter on fancy stationery. Consider who will be receiving these letters, and choose your method accordingly.

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Now it’s time to write the notes. Remember, any type of funeral thank you card can merely include a simple short message. It’s doubtful anyone will be offended that you didn’t take the time to write an essay thanking them for their contributions. They’ll understand that you have other priorities right now.

That said, if you do feel inclined to write a longer letter, consider outlining it and/or writing a rough draft first. This can help you organize your thoughts and feelings. 

(Tip: Give yourself a break in between letters if you’re writing long ones instead of short notes. You want to avoid emotionally exhausting yourself.)

You might also want to review your drafts with other close loved ones. There’s a good chance you’re not the only one who wants to express their gratitude to those who brought or sent food. Letting others review your notes will allow them to contribute their ideas. It will also make you feel more confident that you’ve adequately put your thoughts and feelings into words.

Proofread and send

Making someone feel appreciated requires, at least to an extent, making them see you genuinely set aside time to write an appropriate letter. Again, someone probably won’t get angry if they receive a thank you note with errors, but they might feel you only wrote the note quickly out of a sense of obligation, and not out of a genuine sense of gratitude.

Make sure that doesn’t happen by carefully proofreading the notes. This is another step that other loved ones can help with. Once you’re all satisfied with the finished notes, just send them out!

Sample Thank You Notes for Funeral Food

Being specific when writing thank you notes for funeral food involves tailoring your note so that it addresses the specific way in which someone provided food. For example, the ideal note for someone who cooked a meal might not be perfect for someone who sent meals through a sympathy food delivery service.

To better understand how notes can differ based on the context, consider these examples:

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Thank you note for someone who made or donated the reception’s food

Thank you so much for your generous contribution to the reception. We were particularly touched because you took the time to make such a wonderful dish.

In fact, I can say that your [describe the dish they made] was a hit with many of our guests. If it’s a family secret, I completely understand, but otherwise, I would love to get that recipe from you someday. I think you can understand that I wasn’t in the right mental and emotional place on that day to fully express my enthusiasm and gratitude, but now I want to let you know that your delicious food was a very welcome comfort at a painful time.

I also want to take this chance to thank you for not even once asking for anything in return. As usual, you knew someone close to you was going through a difficult experience, and you stepped right up to help without once making us feel like doing so was a burden. I know you have your own busy life but you set everything aside to help a friend in need. That means so much.

I would like to find a way to pay you back if I ever can. If you ever need anything from me, please don’t hesitate to ask. Thank you so much again.

Thank you note for someone who sent sympathy meals

I can’t thank you enough for the sympathy meals you sent. As I know you understand, planning a funeral is an overwhelming experience. Your gesture helped tremendously.

I also want to thank you for the fact that you clearly considered dietary restrictions when choosing which meals to send. Although we would have appreciated any sympathy meals at that time, it was very kind of you to ensure there was enough variety that everyone could find something to eat. Even [family member, probably a young one] ate plenty, and you know how picky they can be! Not having to worry about them having enough to eat was a load off my mind.

Please let me know how I can repay you. Your thoughtfulness made a very big difference on a very difficult day.

Thank you note for someone who sent grocery or food delivery gift cards

I’m writing to let you know that your gesture when we were planning the funeral for [loved one’s name] did not go unnoticed. As you can imagine, organizing the funeral was very difficult for me, and the fact that you sent the wonderful [name groceries, or, if applicable, gift cards] genuinely took one very important responsibility off my to-do list. You don’t know how simply not having to worry about buying all the food for the funeral myself gave me much more time and space to process my own feelings.

That also meant a lot to my family. With so many tasks on my mind when I first started planning the funeral, I was worried that I might not have had the time to be there for them when we all needed each other’s support. Not having to get the food gave me the time to be with them. I hope I can express just how important that was.

I’d always be happy to pay you back in any way I can. Please let me know, and thank you again!

Thank You Notes for Funeral Food: Simplifying an Important Task

Wanting to make sure you properly express your gratitude when friends and family provide funeral food is completely understandable. Luckily, as this guide makes clear, doing so can be much easier than you might assume.

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