If you’re lucky, friends and family rally around you during illness. That means you might get flooded with visits, flowers, and cards. After you’ve taken some time to recover, it’s time to respond. But what can you say? After you write “thanks for the lovely card,” what’s left? There’s so much blank space.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Saying ‘Thank You’ to a Family Member
- Saying ‘Thank You’ to a Close Friend
- Saying ‘Thank You’ to a Coworker or Client
- Saying ‘Thank You’ to Someone You Don’t Know
- 4 Tips for Writing a ‘Thank You’ Card After an Illness
We’ve assembled some templates. Whether you’re trying to say thank you to strangers or coworkers, there are some easy ways to do it.
Saying ‘Thank You’ to a Family Member
If you’re particularly close to a family member, it might be tempting to just call your loved one up on the phone. And that works, too! But if you’re trying to respond to condolences, a physical card with a cute design might be best.
1. “Hi, Mom! Thanks so much for coming to visit me at the hospital. I really appreciated you being there, especially since you had to drive so far to get here. Waiting for the test results was pretty lonely by myself, and I’m so glad you came. I’m so glad to have seen you before the holidays, even if it wasn’t under the best of circumstances. Love you!”
2. “Hi, Dad! Thanks so much for staying with me while I was stuck in bed for a week. I wasn’t sure how I would take care of the kids, or even get myself a drink of water when I needed it. You showing up was such a miracle. Thanks for taking the kids to school, making meals, and keeping everything going. Even though I’m back to normal, I still miss having you around! I love you.”
3. “Hi, Aunt Sarah! Thanks for bringing flowers to the hospital. It’s been so long since we worked in your garden, but you still remembered that I love yellow roses! It was such a nice surprise to wake up and see them next to my bed. Now that I’m home from the hospital, I’m going to dry the petals and make flower sachets. I’m sure they’ll smell great when I tuck them into my dresser drawers. I can’t wait to see you at Thanksgiving!”
4. “Hello, Grandma! I’m so glad you called to check up on me while I was sick. It’s been so long since I heard your voice! I’m happy that you’re doing well. Thanks for taking the time to call me. Spending so much in bed was lonely, but your call really cheered me up.”
5. “Hi, Grandpa! Thanks for bringing over that casserole. I remember making it with you when I was little — it brought back so many great memories! I’m so glad I got to see you before Christmas, even if it wasn’t under the best circumstances. Thanks again!”
Saying ‘Thank You’ to a Close Friend
6. “Hi, Samantha! Thanks for driving me to the doctor’s office for my appointment. I got the prescriptions I needed and I feel so much better already. I wouldn’t have been able to get another ride for a few days and I would have been so miserable. Thanks again!”
7. “Hi, Megan! Thanks for the lovely sympathy card you sent. It’s on my mantel right now, and I love looking at it. Your support means the world to me right now.”
8. “Hi, Mike! Thanks for your phone call after my mom passed away. I was so grateful to have someone to talk to at that moment. I appreciate your support and love during this time.”
9. “Hi, Michelle! Thanks for dropping by to visit me at the hospital. I really appreciated the chance to visit while you were in town! I was in the hospital for so long and it was easy to get lonely. Your visit really cheered me up!”
10. “Hi, Tom! Thanks for modifying my home after the accident. There’s no way I would have been able to make it up the stairs into my house. The work you did for my wheelchair means so much to me. I really appreciate it!”
Saying ‘Thank You’ to a Coworker or Client
Responding to professional courtesy is important, but it might not require much detail. If you're thanking a client, a small gift, like a gourmet gift basket, might be a nice touch.
11. “Hello! Thanks so much for taking the time away from work to attend my father’s funeral. I was so comforted by having kind, supportive people around me. I really appreciate your time and support!”
12. “Hello! Thanks for your thoughtful sympathy gift. I love the gift basket and have already used the bath salts you tucked in! Thanks for picking out so many things that I love. The chocolate is especially delicious, and I really appreciate your thoughtfulness.”
13. “Hello! Thank you for the beautiful sympathy card. It’s really comforting to read. I’ve put it on my kitchen counter as a reminder. Thanks so much for taking the time to pick it out and send it. I’m so grateful to have kind people around me right now.”
14. “Thank you for your kind phone call. I really appreciate your sympathy during this time — your thoughtfulness means so much, and I’m glad to know someone like you.”
15. “Thank you so much for donating vacation days. I wasn’t sure how I would manage to go home for the funeral, but now I can. I really appreciate your selflessness — it has made a world of difference for me and my family.”
Saying ‘Thank You’ to Someone You Don’t Know
You might have received condolences from people online or strangers who heard about your situation. Even if it might feel a little awkward, it’s still important to thank them, too. If you don’t know them, it’s okay to keep it short.
16. “Thanks so much for reaching out to me. I really appreciate your thoughtful note that I received after my mother’s passing.”
17. “I’m so sorry I haven’t sent this sooner, but I wanted to thank you for the sympathy bouquet you sent. It was one of my favorite arrangements on display during the funeral. Thanks for taking the time to find such a lovely arrangement.”
18. “Thank you for sending that beautiful card. I’m including it in a memorial collage — the artwork and sentiments are lovely. Thanks for your thoughtfulness.”
19. “Thanks so much for sending along your condolences through my colleague. I really appreciate your kindness.”
20. “Thanks for taking the time to respond to my Facebook post. I really appreciate your willingness to reach out and express your kind good wishes.”
4 Tips for Writing a ‘Thank You’ Card After an Illness
If you want to write your own message, here are some tips to nail it.
After you’ve thanked someone, it’s time to expand on what you plan to do with that person’s gift. This is easier if it was a physical item. Maybe the individual sent a lovely card and you plan to include the card in a box of mementos. Or maybe you want to make sachets from flowers from a loved one.
Tell your friend or loved one that his or her gift is both loved and appreciated. Finding a gift is difficult, and many people stress over it. Write about how it’s appreciated.
Tell them why
If you’re short on words, what else can you say? You’ve followed the proper protocol. Start with a greeting, add a thank you, and tell your friend or loved one what you’re going to do with the gift. What else can you say? Tell the individual why his or her gift mattered. Mention how loved and supported the gift or visit made you feel.
This approach works even if you didn’t like the gift. There’s still no need to be rude! You can use other phrases to communicate gratitude without being untruthful. For instance, you could write, “I’ve been too tired to make meals lately, so I’m grateful you brought by that casserole.” This approach works even if you tasted the casserole and didn’t like it.
Ask about them
Even if you know the person you’re writing to won’t respond with a card of their own, it’s still polite to take interest in his or her life. If this person does choose to respond, your questions will offer something to write about.
You can take bits and pieces from conversations you had. For example, let’s say your cousin was eight months pregnant when she visited you. It might be fun to ask if she’s decided on a baby name yet.
Send it soon
If you’ve been sick, it might be tempting to put off card responses as long as possible. After all, you’ve got other priorities. Take the time to heal and rest up. But once you’ve done that, send the card within a month.
If more than a month has passed, don’t hope they won’t notice. It’s always best to acknowledge this small breach of etiquette in your card. Start with a phrase like “I’m sorry it took me so long to respond, but…” This acknowledges your tardiness while moving directly to the purpose of your card.
Responding to Messages
If you’re ill or responding to condolences, it might take you some time to write out messages, and that’s okay! Once you sit down with some thank-you cards and template messages, it won’t take long at all.
If you're looking for more ideas on how to show your thanks, check out our picks for the best appreciation gifts.
Post-loss tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, the emotional and technical aspects of handling their unfinished business 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.