Funeral homes often supply the bereaved with note cards for this purpose. Sympathy thank you notes can be a simple acknowledgement or take the form of a longer letter. It depends on how the bereaved feel and whether they’re up for the activity.
While it’s very thoughtful to take the time to thank individuals who have made an effort to support you and remember your loved one, it depends whether the bereaved is up to the task. Many people find it therapeutic to write sympathy thank you notes and answer condolence letters and notes; it’s a chance to acknowledge someone’s thoughtful gestures and talk about the deceased. But some people are so overwhelmed with grief, they’re just not up to the task.
One bereaved spouse shared that she poured herself a cup of coffee each morning and sat at the kitchen table with a goal of writing five thank you notes. As she began, she started to cry. After a week she realized she just couldn’t do it. A bereaved daughter was unable to do much of anything in the six months after her father died. She was finally ready to tackle the thank you notes but wondered if it was too late.
If it is too painful to write thank you notes, it’s okay not to write them. Memorial donations are usually acknowledged by the organization; it’s also possible that one of the friends or loved ones who offered assistance wouldn’t mind writing some notes for you. If six or eight months down the road you feel like writing notes, it’s okay to do so. Someone who did a kindness following a death will be happy to hear from you at any point. Just do what will work for you.
It’s important to remember that no one who made the effort to comfort the bereaved did so expecting anything in return. No one wants to add an extra burden to someone grieving a loss.