The life celebration has ended. You’ve hugged your friends, cried with family members and laughed with your nearest and dearest. And, of course, you’ve walked down memory lane remembering all of the reasons so many people loved your Pops.
Perhaps one of the most touching parts of the celebration was witnessing the people from your past and present who showed up for you. They made meals, they walked with you in sadness, they helped pick up your children from school—they even sat with you as you wrote a eulogy. How do you begin to reach out to the people who supported you and your family during this time?
A handwritten card is a lovely way to show your appreciation. It lets friends and relatives know that you received their flowers, meals, donations and other above-and-beyond acts of kindness.
Who gets a thank-you card?
You don't have to send every person who attended a service a thank-you card. If the celebration of life was small—10 to 20 people—maybe you can send notes to everyone. But if hundreds of friends and family gathered for the memorial, don’t stress about sending a handwritten note to each person. The same goes for sympathy cards. Senders don't expect cards from you in return. For those who went the extra mile after your loss, during the planning process or at the event itself (think friends who helped organize meals, attended planning meetings, sat with children or pets, ran errands for you or stayed with you at night), you might want to thank them in writing.
And remember: A thank-you note doesn’t have to be long. A short but sweet note that relays your gratitude is all you need. Write two or three lines on a pretty card that speaks to the exact kindness the person extended. That's all you need to do.
Here's a list of those you may want to thank and examples of what to write.
Celebration of life attendees
If you wish to thank guests, just mention that their presence meant a lot and helped you through a hard time. If there are certain people who were especially close to your loved one, you can may want to send a note that reads something like:
- Thank you for coming to Dad’s celebration of life. I know how much he enjoyed spending time with you. I am so grateful you were there.
- Mom always considered you one of her closest friends. It meant so much to have you there supporting our family.
- The book club you started with Jill was one of her favorite hobbies. Thank you for coming to support us, and I loved chatting with you at the celebration.
Those who sent flowers
Flowers and plants are among the more common ways people show their sympathy. Friends from near and far may send condolence arrangements, including wreaths and sprays to the funeral home, celebration of life venue, cemetery or your home. Seeing a room full of colorful flowers will be a bright spot in the day, and green plants live on as a reminder of someone's care and concern. Here are a few ways to thank someone for flowers:
- Thank you for the beautiful arrangement you sent for Mary. It was stunning, and we appreciate your thoughts during this time.
- When I saw the arrangement you sent for Tim, it brightened up the day. It was such a thoughtful gesture of sympathy, and we are grateful.
- Thank you for the beautiful flowers you sent to the celebration of life. I know that Paul would have loved them. We are touched by your generosity.
- Your wreath brought our family so much joy as we remembered our beloved grandfather. Thank you for thinking of us.
People who made donations
Whether you asked for donations in lieu of flowers or a guest decided to make a charity contribution in your family’s memory, it’s courteous to thank those who gave money. You don’t have to mention the amount—any donation is a generous sign of sympathy. Here are some ways to express your gratitude:
- Your contribution in honor of Grandma was such a blessing. We know how much she loved the cause, and we thank you for your thoughtfulness.
- Your friendship has always been a bright spot in our life. We appreciate your donation in Steve’s name.
- Our family is so honored to have a donation in our name. Your charitable heart was one of the things Kelly loved so much about you.
Readers, pallbearers or someone who gave a eulogy
The people who speak, sing or serve as pallbearers are probably a group that you are close with. They might be relatives or your loved one’s best friends. They are more than likely grieving, too. Sending them notes expresses your utmost gratitude and respect. Here are some ways to make your deep appreciation known:
- Thank you for your gracious words at Dad’s service. You captured his gentle essence and kindness, and we will never forget that.
- Sarah would have been so proud to hear your reading at her celebration of life. We are so grateful for your friendship, and we know she was, too.
- The stories and memories you shared at Grandma’s celebration of life brought us to tears—the good kind. I know you two had many great times together, and we loved hearing about your favorites.
Friends who delivered meals
Many people will stop by with food within a day or two of the service—or maybe a friend will set up a meal train. Food is a gesture of support, whether it’s a seafood spread from your favorite restaurant or a cheesy, homemade casserole and sheet cake. Remember to thank those who relieved the burden of cooking. Some examples:
- Thank you for the blessing of food. We didn't have to think about cooking while we grieved our grandfather, and that was such a gift.
- The dinner delivery you set up allowed us to focus on what was important during the weekend. We appreciate your generous gesture.
- I know how much time you must have dedicated to cooking a homemade dinner for our family. We feel so lucky to have friends like you who take care of us in times of need.
How soon should you send thank-you notes?
Don’t fret about sending a celebration of life thank-you card within a few days of the service. Your circle of friends knows that the weeks after a funeral are . Wait until you’re ready. A note of appreciation is always welcome, no matter how much time has passed.
If even after a few weeks the task of writing thank-you notes seems overwhelming, ask for help. It's entirely appropriate to let friends and family continue to relieve some of your stress. And though writing notes may sound burdensome, it can be cathartic to remember all of the people in your life who showed up for your loved one, you and your family.
Take your time. Find comfort in the memories.