Do You Need to Send Thank You Cards to People Who Send Sympathy Notes?

Jeannie Randall
Writing thank you notes

What is the etiquette for sending thank you cards for sympathy notes after the funeral? Is it considered compulsory that you send a thank you for sympathy cards received? While etiquette dictates sending thank you notes for significant gestures, such as sending flowers, bringing food to your home, or participating in the funeral service itself, it is not necessary to send thank you notes for sympathy cards.

Thank You Cards for Sympathy Cards Not Required

Although a formal note is not needed, you can call or text someone to say thank you for sending a sympathy card.

Thank You Card for Sympathy Card Etiquette

According to Funeralwise.com, a thank you note is not needed for everyone who sends a sympathy card. Thank you notes should be sent to anyone that offered something beyond a simple card, but they are not required in response to a sympathy card alone. While it is always appropriate to send a thank you note if you would like, in this situation, it is not necessary - and grieving survivors certainly may not need the added pressure of writing and addressing thank you notes.

Sender Expectations

If you receive a sympathy card from someone who indicates no thank you is required, the sender is likely honoring the situation and making sure that you know that you are not expected to respond to the gesture. The fact that some people may make such a notation does not mean that you are required to send acknowledgments or expressions of gratitude to people who don't specify that a response isn't necessary. Even those who don't make a special notation will not likely expect to receive a thank you note after sending a sympathy card.

If You Decide to Send a Thank You Note for Condolence Cards

If you feel up to it, sending a thank you note is a nice way to tell those that support you during this difficult time that you acknowledge their thoughtful gestures.

Who Should Write the Notes?

If you do decide to send thank you notes, they do not have to be written by the actual recipient of the sympathy card. It is acceptable for a relative or friend to assist with the notes if the recipient is unable to do so due to grief or other end-of-life duties of the survivors.

Thank You Note Format

According to Emily Post, typically, a thank you note should be handwritten and include a personal message. The note can be very simple such as "Thanks so much for your card in our time of grief. Regards, The Anderson Family."

There are only a few situations in which pre-printed cards with a signature are acceptable as thank you notes. One such situation would be the death of a prominent person, following which, a great number of cards, gifts and donations were received.

Appropriate Time Frame for Sending Sympathy Card Thank Yous

According to Emily Post's Bereavement Questions and Answers, unlike with other thank you cards, there is not a specific recommended time frame for sending thank you notes for sympathy cards. Friends and loved ones will understand the difficulties associated with the loss. You will not offend anyone if there is a delay - particularly since no one is expecting to receive a formal 'thank you' in response to a sympathy card.

If the note is sent out several weeks after the funeral, it is appropriate to offer an explanation for the delay. Something simple such as, "I'm sorry for the delay, but wanted you to know how much I appreciate the sympathy card you sent for Bob's funeral service," will suffice.

The Choice to Send Thank You Notes for Sympathy Cards Is Yours

While dealing with the loss of a loved one, certain rules of etiquette tend to become less important. The bereaved may choose to write thank you notes for sympathy cards they have received. For some, writing these notes can actually be cathartic and healing. Writing thank-you notes for sympathy cards, however, is not a necessity. If writing thank-you notes during this time is too overwhelming, etiquette dictates it is perfectly acceptable not to send them.

Do You Need to Send Thank You Cards to People Who Send Sympathy Notes?