Purchase simple (plain), good quality stationery. Look for cards that are blanked, or have "Thank You" written on the front in understated, elegant font.
Make a list of people you would like to thank for their kindness. A potential list could include the director and staff of the funeral home, people who sent flowers, cooked food or otherwise helped arrange the event, and someone who expressed an especially meaningful sentiment to you at the funeral, or from afar, feel free to include that person as well. If an ecclesiastical authority led the service, send him or her a note of thanks along with a small donation for the church.
Bear in mind not every person who deserves a thank you note was present at the funeral, therefore you should thank each person who made the effort to show their sympathy and support in other ways, for example people who signed the guest register at another time, someone who provided childcare for others during the event, those who sent flowers, or someone who donated to a charity in the name of the deceased.
Write a simple thank you. There is no need to write an essay - people understand what you are going through. Simply speak from the heart. Some things you might include are:
Recalling a brief memory of how that person touched the deceased's life in meaningful way.
Simply thanking them for thinking of you at this time of great loss in your life.
If they are really close to you and/or your family, you might also want to tell them how much it mattered to you that they were there for you and your family, and how they have always shared the good and bad times with you and your family. Say everything from the heart and say it simply.
Write the thank-yous when you can and if you can. Don't feel pressured into writing them when you don't want to. For some people, writing the thank-yous might be a cathartic process; for others it might be a method of staving off grief a little longer and or a way of reconnecting with people after feeling disconnected.
Just do what feels right. Delegate the duty to another family member or friend if it is just too much and you are overwhelmed. You can always dictate if you have to.
Get helpers to send out the notes. If you don't feel up to labeling envelopes, licking them, sticking on stamps and driving the notes down to the post office, ask a friend or someone else to do it for you. You'll find people will be more than ready to assist you.
Make it from your heart, and if not, at least polite. Even if some people at the funeral raise your hackles for reasons long-steeped in family history, be generous during this time of mourning - after all, if you are feuding with people who came, remember that they at least did come.
A generalized example: "It's difficult indeed to put our thoughts into words, but we very much appreciate your kind and helpful words, deeds and gestures at a time when these things mean so much. We thank God for friends such as you!"
An example of a short, polite note for flowers is: "Thank you for your thoughtfulness. Your generosity and support during this difficult time are greatly appreciated."
Be polite but if you feel a need to be frank about something in your note, sleep on it. For example, you want to know why the person you are writing to sent flowers but didn't attend the funeral. Maybe it is something that needs to be said to clear out your demons but you have to remember that in grieving, you are likely to not be in a fit state to be thinking as straight as you normally would. Sleep on it for weeks if need be! Remember, once your note is written and mailed, you can't ever take it back.
It is not necessary to send a thank you note to every person who came to pay their respects during calling hours.
Traditional etiquette dictates that notes are to be sent within two weeks of the funeral.
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Read some comments from the families that we have served.