No Thank You: New Rules About Thank You Notes After the Death of a Loved One

By guest writer, Catherine Tidd

I was brought up with a Southern mother who drummed into us the lesson that it doesn’t matter if someone gives you a diamond or a dandelion…thank you notes are a must. And for the most part, I completely agree. For whatever the gift or sentiment, the giver thought of you, took the time out of their day to give you something, and that action should be acknowledged.

Even now, with my kids as young as they are, I have them write their own thank you notes.  And I even have them write thank you notes to each other after a birthday or holiday.  We all know, that as the giver, it gives us a little smile to know that someone is enjoying the gift we gave them.

However… Immediately after the death of someone close to you, you’re either one of two things:  You’re running around manically trying to get a million things done at once so you don’t have to think about what’s going on, OR you’re laying in your bed, trying your hardest not to move just in case the grief monster is in the room, notices you, and plans a sneak attack.

Either way, you’re really not up for calmly sitting down and writing a thank you note for the potted plant someone brought to the funeral or the ham you never had the appetite to eat.  Because, in the grand scheme of things (and nothing gives us a glimpse into The Grand Scheme of Things like the death of a loved one…) compared to the size of your grief…is a thank you note really that important?

And don’t even get me started on the effort it takes to address the things.

When my husband died, a good family friend of mine was very forward-thinking and immediately set up a family fund at my bank so that people could contribute monetary gifts for the kids.  This was a great idea.  I personally didn’t get the checks (and, therefore, I didn’t lose the checks) and they were deposited in this account, safe and sound.

Except… The bank didn’t really keep track of who sent the checks.  Some of the employees kept the cards that came with them, some of them didn’t.  So, I had no idea where half of those checks came from.

[Enter panicky feeling here…]  I didn’t know where to send the thank you note.

Really?  My husband’s dead…and that’s what I’m worried about?

Now, I understand that part of the business end of the thank you note is just an acknowledgment that you’ve received the gift and that’s very important.  But for me to be completely stressed out, 3 weeks after my husband died, about thank you notes…is a little ridiculous.

I know I’m not the only person this has happened to.  About a year after he died, I was sitting with a new widow and the same thing had happened to her (with a different bank).   She looked exhausted as she explained the effort she had put into trying to track down who had sent what.  So that she could then research the person’s address and send them a 2 sentence thank you note acknowledging the gift.

Is it just me…or maybe she shouldn’t have had to worry about that when she was trying to figure out how she was going to raise a 2 year old daughter on her own after her husband had died instantly in a plane crash?

THEREFORE (and you know this is going to be big since I put it in capital letters): I am starting a new movement that I hope will catch on.

Thank you notes are not necessary after the death of a loved one.

For the gift giver…I have some suggestions:

  • If you’ve sent a check and you’re worried about whether or not it made it…check your bank and see if the check cleared.  If it did…we got it.  THANK YOU.
  • If you’ve ordered flowers and you want to make sure that they were at the funeral, ask someone who is attending (surely you must know somebody), and if they did…THANK YOU.  (This also applies to ham, little mini rose plants, and that bottle of scotch, which believe me…we appreciated.)
  • Know that any gift you have given…the gift of your time, your money, or your sympathy is greatly appreciated.
  • Know because you may not receive the actual thank you note in a timely manner, doesn’t mean we don’t know all that you have done for us.  We’re just trying to walk and breathe at the same time.  So putting pen to paper is not high on our list of priorities.

Since I have personally been through this, when I give someone a gift after a loss, I immediately say, “I don’t need a thank you note.  I know you got it.  I know it will be used.  Take me off your list.”

Even better…one of the sympathy cards (and checks) I did personally receive had a note in it that said, “Don’t write me a thank you note.  Take that time and do a puzzle with your kids.”

Now that’s a gift.

By guest writer Catherine Tidd; read more from Catherine at

Photo Credit.


  1. Iris Arenson-Fuller said on October 7, 2010 at 4:00 pm ... #

    Oh this is so sensible and true. I remember what it felt like to be burdened with feeling I needed to thank everyone on top of all else as a young widow who had lost a husband, home and belongings in one fell swoop. I sent a thank you to the community in the form of a letter in a local paper and was criticized that this wasn’t personal enough. I hope many people read your post, pass it on and pay attention to this bit of advice. When you lose a loved one, attending to social details is NOT what you need to make a priority.

  2. Michelle said on October 7, 2010 at 4:14 pm ... #

    I found after my son passed away that every time I the wave hit (AKA..the uncontrollable crying session) I sat down and thought about someone Wyo had done something nice for me since his passing and I write a note to them telling them how important their gesture was whether big or small. I am finding it heals me and I am sure it makes them feel good as well.

  3. Jennifer Phillips said on October 7, 2010 at 4:24 pm ... #

    I agree. When my husband died, the last thing on my mind was sending thank you notes. I couldn’t even think about them at the time. Here I was widowed, raising two teenage boys and working full-time! I just didn’t have the mindset nor the time to worry about hurting someones feelings by not sending a thank you note.

    My father passed away two week ago. While making his arrangements, the funeral director showed us thank you cards. Of course, doing the right thing, my Mom ordered the cards for a nice fee. I just feel it’s not necessary, in a time a grief, that you should have to worry about this. Adjusting to your new life is going to be a struggle as it is.

    My family and friends already know how much I love and appreciate all their love and support with out a thank you note. To this day I still thank them when I talk to them or see them.

  4. Carly said on October 7, 2010 at 4:49 pm ... #

    I completely agree. I got a few thank-you notes out. My parents were pressuring me to make sure i got them out starting from the day after my husband’s memorial service. I seriously did not have it in me.

    Complicate that with the birth of our first and only child five weeks later, and then I had a giant stack of sympathy thank-you notes to write and send as well as a giant stack of baby thank-you notes. Needless to say, the baby is six months old now, and neither have gotten done. It’s kind of absurd, actually, the amount of time that has passed, and still there is a box of birth announcements I’d intended to write the baby thank-yous on the back of and send out. I will definitely get the baby thank-yous out…better late than never right?

    The sympathy thank-yous, however, are no longer a priority. I’ve asked myself, “If I’d sent someone flowers or a gift when his or her spouse died, would I expect a note?” The answer is no. I’d be floored if I’d gotten one. So on that note, I think I’ll relax a little.

  5. Leanne Heggen Eckstein said on October 7, 2010 at 7:52 pm ... #

    This is the best idea I have heard in a long time. When a death occurs the last thing that should be expected is a thank you note. Some days it is all that we can do to put one foot in front of the other just to walk; thank you notes should NOT be added to our list of things-to-do. I realize that my beloved Grandma is probably rolling her eyes at me from Heaven, but after being widowed twice trust me when I say I know how I felt. Writing was NOT one of my better abilities either time and just looking at the stack of empty notecards opened a whole new round of tears.

  6. Anna Sauce said on October 7, 2010 at 8:19 pm ... #

    Thank you for this article my husband passed away suddenly 7 months ago, my little girls & I are recovering one day at a time but I have experienced the same problem. It has taken 7 months for me to not think every moment of every day about the image of finding him gone I still haven’t written thank you notes because I didn’t do it right away but everyday I know it is on my list of things to do. I hope that people know I am appreciative, I still carry this guilt. My in-laws were experiencing the same problems so one day my sister-in-law found a nice thank you poem & printed it out on some beautiful stationery, she included her name & my mother-in-law & father-in-law but not myself or my daughters. my feelings were hurt, the morning after the funeral they all left & I felt so abandoned, I was left to raise our 2 children by myself. Her idea was awesome though, thank you in the form of a poem, it may not be very personable but the thank yous were said! At times I have thought that maybe it is too late to send thank yous but even if it is another couple months I will send them, I have too.

  7. Tracy said on October 7, 2010 at 9:09 pm ... #

    Thank you so much for writing this and the end suggestion was the
    best…. I still to this day 1 year later worry that I forgot to send a
    thank you to someone and hurt their feelings…….God Bless

  8. ANGELA ZYLKA said on October 8, 2010 at 9:34 am ... #

    This is an amazing thesis,I too lost my husband suddenly & unexpectedly on a Sunday morning in November, 7 years ago.As that anniversary approaches I relive that morning,again.
    My memories of that morning are of my friends and family members activating to help.My women friends
    organized many things including, bringing brunch a few weeks later to sit around the table to get the “thank you “notes completed.They were astonished that I wanted to write them myself[Southern upbringing]but they addressed & got this task completed.We had that fund at the bank,too for my 3 children.It was a small bank & they took a personal interest in the “fund”& kept good records. I asked them to copy the checks before they deposited them.
    My favorite thank you was preprinted & it said …perhaps you sent a card or plant…or thought of us that day…etc all sentiments that we appreciate.This is a shortened version.
    So,as big of a pain as the thank yous are…I think acquaintances expect them & real friends, don’t.Angela

  9. Catherine said on October 8, 2010 at 5:42 pm ... #

    Yay! I’m glad this movement is catching on. :>) Thanks for your comments guys. I’ve enjoyed reading every one.


  10. Paige Mitchell said on October 12, 2010 at 3:47 pm ... #

    I agree, thank you notes should not be a priority. It will be a year on Oct.25, since my husband died. I have two small girls to constantly think about. I think about thank you notes on occasion, but I can’t do it, I know ones that are close to me know I appreciate everthing. Those that are worried about a thank you note, should find something else to worry about.The grief is so painful, trying to explain to my girls why their daddy is not here, is the hardest thing to have to do.

  11. Sheri Kalber-Amato said on October 12, 2010 at 5:26 pm ... #

    I was so happy to read all of the comments on this subject. I lost my 20-year old son, Eric, on July 3, 2005 and still think about the fact that I didn’t send thank you notes out. I know it’s proper, but I couldn’t even bring myself to read the sympathy cards until months later. I opened every one of them when I received them just to see who they were from and put them in a pile. I hope nobody was offended, but I’ve long since stopped worrying about it.

  12. Wendy said on October 15, 2010 at 7:32 pm ... #

    I love this article! When my mom passed away 3 years ago, my dad, brother and I had a stack of sympathy cards and donation notes to Susan G. Komen sitting on the desk in our kitchen. They sat there for probably over a year before my dad stuffed them in a cabinet. We read all of the cards and were so grateful for all the donations, but we just couldn’t find the strength to write the Thank You notes. Months went on and then we felt like it was too late to send all our thanks via formalized notes. All I hope is that everyone who didn’t receive a note understands and knows how thankful my family was during such rough times.

  13. Carri said on October 18, 2010 at 6:58 pm ... #

    I’m so glad you said this. I was actually reminded by someone that I “needed” to get thank you cards out… I could not bring myself to tell someone “thank you” for sending flowers to my 2 year old DAUGHTER’s funeral. Like really… I totally tell folks (including my parents who are newly grieving the loss of my brother) that Thank you notes are not necessary. The folks who sent flowers, money, whatever…will understand. They did not do what they did to receive a Thank you note…and if they did…well then they have bigger problems than we can help them with!

    Thanks again for your position on this!

  14. Kristi Merritt said on October 29, 2010 at 1:25 pm ... #

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! I lost my 3 yr old daughter last week and am actually amazed that I am looking up the etiquette on sending thank you’s after a death. Someone handed me the stack of Thank You’s from the funeral home. It’s pretty crazy to add that to the already over stacked plate from the emotional buffet. I honestly never expected a thank you when I gave to someone in this situation and I do not think most people do.

  15. Catherine said on November 8, 2010 at 11:34 pm ... #


    I am so incredibly worry for your loss. I’m giving you the okay to throw away your “to do” list…unless it’s something that you want to do! Anyone who is expecting a thank you note from someone who has experienced what you have…well…they need to find something else to do!!!!!

    Thinking of you.

  16. valerie said on November 17, 2010 at 10:33 am ... #

    Thank you for writing such an important piece. My husband died seven years ago and I remember the overwhelming feeling of trying to get thank you notes out in a timely manner. I now work with widow and widowers who often express the same thing. Thank you for easing the pressure of such a difficult time.

  17. Geri said on November 18, 2010 at 10:51 am ... #

    Thank you for this important viewpoint; I was so happy to have found it. My husband died of cancer almost a year and a half ago, and I have thought many times about sending out thank you notes, but every time I do, ….well, I just can’t sit down and do it. Only those who have lost a loved one know how difficult it is to manage the grief, which is ongoing, and the everyday family issues which all keep us way too busy. I do feel guilty about not sending the notes, but recently ran into one lovely lady at church who had sent over a lovely meal to my home at the dime of my husbands’ death…enough to feed an army. I embraced her and told her how much it meant, and she assured me there was no reason to tell her, she already knew. God bless her and all the others, that they may all understand our grief and the fact we didn’t send a thank you note. I, too, hope this trend catches on!

  18. Shirley said on November 24, 2010 at 12:56 pm ... #

    I am so glad to hear this from other people. My son died a year ago and it seems like yesterday. I can’t seem to sit down and write Thank you notes because I always start to cry when trying to express thanks to people that I know cared so much for him. It is just to overwhelming. Please keep spreading the word because I have felt tremendous guilt over this issue.

  19. Derekheart (Claire Au) said on December 3, 2010 at 7:26 pm ... #

    Amen!! Thank you for putting this in print. I think we need to officially publish this and post in every funeral home, cemetary and church in the world. Thank-you notes should forever remain an option for happy gifts only. Also, I know of people who NEVER send thank you’s – ever – for anything. It’s just never been their custom. We are so over-the-top thankful in our country. Most of us would agree that we give willingly from our hearts and would never EXPECT a thank-you, even though, we ourselves may be inclined to send one. I stressed over this for 6 months after my husband’s death because his sister and cousins spent so much time creating the thank-you’s from scratch, and I was left with the “responsibility” of mailing them!! There are still about 100 more (1.5 years later) that have never gone out because I couldn’t render the energy to sit and add those addresses to the computer database. The folks on the receiving end have no clue, and they don’t expect those thank-you’s. My main reason for sending them was so everyone could have a picture of my loving husband close-by.

  20. stacy said on December 25, 2010 at 10:43 am ... #

    My husband just passed away. Unexpected and in disbelief. Everyone around us has been wonderful and the city has been amazing. Many people sent flowers but someone took the cards off. I have no idea who sent what…any advice would be wonderful. I’m totally stressing on how to thank our friends or family who sent the flowers. But I have no idea who sent what. the cards were taken off.

  21. Tyrena D' Andrea said on December 30, 2010 at 8:12 am ... #

    I greatly appreciated your article.It has released me from feeling obligated to send notes after my mother’s death. When you experience a great loss, the last thing you feel like doing is sending out thank you’s.It would be loving as well as practical to end this particular etiquette practice.

  22. Susan said on January 21, 2011 at 4:57 pm ... #

    16 months now after my husband’s death and I am just starting to write a short note to everyone who provided love and support. Couldn’t do it until now without becoming an emotional wreck. Now it’s a kind of healing for me. I explain that over the time since his death I have thought often of the wonderful way they helped me and my family when we needed it most. By people’s comments it is greatly appreciated (but not expected) and I am getting something out of this slow but steady progress through the list. I also think it means more to me and them because it’s not social etiquette but something from my heart.

  23. Melissa said on January 30, 2011 at 2:03 pm ... #

    Your column helped me so much. My father passed away January 12th after four months of a brutal fight with cancer. It all happened so fast, which I’m slowly starting to accept as a blessing. My mother and I recevied meals, cards, plants, calls and emails — too numerous to count at both her house and mine. And now, that I’m starting to get back to “reality” whatever that is… I immediately started thinking about thank you notes. After a week of guilt for not getting it done, I realized that they are probably not necessary. I searched online for some support for my theory and found your column. A big weight has been lifted. Instead, I have emailed and sent short text messages to those who have inquired about how we are doing. I realize, now, that my dad, may he rest in peace, would want me honoring his memory by taking care of his wife (my mother), and his grandchildren – Not by writing notes.
    Thanks again!

  24. kerry neuberger said on March 15, 2011 at 7:20 pm ... #

    I completely agree. I was fortunate. My mom, sister, sister-in-law, and chosen sisters (very close friends) sat down and did all the thank you’s for me. I opened the cards for a little while, then just let them go to it, and I tried to focus on playing some games with my sons. I didn’t write one thing, didn’t lick one stamp.

    Months later, I went through the cards -reading the messages people had written, went through the list of names thank – yous had been sent to – they kept an amazing record for us.

    If there are those you trust and are comfortable with doing this, and they want to do it – let them – it not only makes those people feel as if they are helping and they truly are – it is -lets see how many thank you’s went out ??? – it was 326 things I didn’t have to worry about.
    They were amazing.

  25. Beth said on March 22, 2011 at 5:39 pm ... #

    Oh, thank you for this! My mother passed away just over a month ago. I just cannot bring myself to write thank you notes. What a great idea to start spreading the word to funeral homes to stop this trend. It is such a burden during a difficult time.

  26. Lydia Barber said on May 12, 2011 at 6:12 pm ... #

    Thank you. I found your article because I googled ‘Is 7 months after a loss of your son too late to write a thank you note.” I found your article and agree. I lost my 19 year old son suddenly on October 27, 2010 and have written 2 thank you notes, to each of the schools my other children attended for remembering him with wonderful donations. They were hard enough. I have found myself apologizing to people when I see them about the note, and they are “Don’t you dare write me a note.” I thank God for that. It is my southern, true and true (kind of like me), mother in law who I am sure is mortified that I haven’t, but she is not in my shoes. I am huge on wedding, graduation, and well, any other occasion, but the thank you notes I purchased from the funeral home are still sitting on my bedroom couch next to the makeshift list I have, and now I know what to do. I know all my friends do not expect it. Thank you very much.

  27. Luie Garcia said on June 19, 2011 at 11:35 am ... #

    I completely agree. I just lost my brother 4 weeks ago and although we are very grateful for all who helped especially when he was sick, we still have trouble going through mails, emails and other stuff. It is extremely difficult and during this time, the last thing we want is to be reminded of all the pain. My friend who went through the same waited more than a month to open the cards mailed to her because she could not stand it. I hope more and more people understands.

  28. Stacey Gregg said on July 4, 2011 at 4:18 am ... #

    I agree with Luie –
    I hope more and more people understand.
    When sending, cards, flowers, helping with arrangements, these people do it because they want to relieve the work load and they are greatful that it is not them in the place we are residing-GRIEF- the loss of a loved one such as a Spouse, Father, Brother.
    Sympathy cards,gifts are to be just that- not a time to make grieving people obligated to do ANYTHING they have no energy left to do anyway most of the time and there are not many friends are truly willing to do this job either.
    Why would you want to give a widow or widower or parent of a dead child one more thing to do? That is not the intent of your sympathy card,gift,or flowers. Shame on those that falsely have expectations at this persons time of great pain. If you are concerned that they got something-make the effort to ensure they got it without imposing on those grieving. The grieving person has priorities in place tending to their grief and new NORMAL without the loved one around- do not expect grieving people to attend to you.

  29. My3His4 said on August 19, 2011 at 8:49 pm ... #

    Reading this article just lifted the biggest burden off my back. I just lost my daughter 2 weeks ago who passed shortly after birth and I have been stressing about sending out thank you cards. I have made sure to save every card, gift and names off of checks so I can send thank you cards. In fact, I ran into this posting because I was searching for thank you cards. After reading every single post I don’t feel like I need to send them anymore. I have verbally told everyone thank you…..that should be good enough. I feel at ease after reading this. Obviously in my situation I will write a personal thank you card to those that donated money that don’t know my family and to the nurse that touched my families hearts. Thank you for starting this!

  30. Tobi said on October 2, 2011 at 9:30 am ... #

    My husband passed away 4 months ago suddenly in an accident. I have been in a fog since. I sent thank yous to the people that I had addresses for but the ones without the address are still sitting in my box. I am just trying to get through each hour of the day and I don’t even think about the thank yous. I know it will take time and phone calls to obtain these addresses and I have been avoiding it. It was brought to my attention that a lot of people are hurt because they did not get a Thank you. I am sorry, but I cannot imagine being hurt about a card compared to the pain I am suffering from losing my husband. It pales in comparison and I think people should put this in persceptive. Upset about not getting a card, which I might add, goes right in the trash, while the person who is supposed to send the card is just trying to find a way to live life without their loved one? This is ridiculous and selfish to me. I believe people should be enlighted about this situation. Give the gift from the heart without expecting something in return. Isn’t that what giving is all about? If you are on facebook, post this. I have a few people actually very upset with me because they did not get “the card”. Oh my

  31. April Leach said on October 29, 2011 at 6:44 pm ... #

    I needed to hear this. Ever since our healthy 15 year old son passed away suddenly from a massive stroke a little over a month ago, I have been fretting over sending out thank you notes. We’ve had an overwhelming outpouring of love, support, meals, plants, gifts, etc., and the thought of having to sit down and write thank you notes is extremely daunting to me right now. It’s all I can do at this point to motivate myself to remember that I have three other sons who need my love, support and attention right now. It’s sad to say that I have heard a couple of comments from those who “gave” in our time of need who feel that we should have acknowledged their generosity. Because of that, I felt it necessary to see what the proper etiquette was, so thank you for your column, you’ve helped put my mind at ease.

  32. Allison McLean said on November 9, 2011 at 7:16 am ... #

    I have to say that I disagree with you on this one. I lost my 16 year old son and the next year my father and was stressed with writing hundreds of thank you notes. However, I want to make two important points about why they should be written and then offer ways to get help with the task. Writing these notes, whether two weeks later or a year later, is a way for us to “count out blessings'” to see that we are not alone in our suffering. It is an important part of our healing journey where we give back to those who gave to us and we do it to honor the deceased. Also, writing these notes encourages the recipient to see that the gift of their time or money helped the one grieving. That, in turn, encourages them to help the next person. If the task is overwhelming, enlist the help of those friends who offered to do something. They can make the list, find the addresses, address the envelopes, go to the post office, even write some of them. These acts of kindness and thanks are so important and truly do not take that long once we start. The most important point is to get help with the task….even older children can help address and write the notes helping to give a gift back to the community in honor of their father or mother.

  33. Mary M said on January 20, 2012 at 10:51 am ... #

    Wow..what a relief to read this article. I have such guilt for not being proper and sending out thank you cards after my husband died four years ago. I even searched the web for funeral thank you etiquette…what a I had nothing else to worry about, when actually my world was crumbled and my young son’s were now fatherless. My refusal of family help right after the funeral was from the delusion of grandeur that I wanted to personally write everyone with detailed heartfelt appreciation for all the support,food, donations, calls, cards, prayers,love and so on that we received. I was overwhelmed with the mixture of despair and genuine appreciation of people at the same time. The reality of writing the cards got the best of me…I just couldn’t do it, I think in some way it’s another form of denial. It’s hard enough to accept the reality of death especially in that raw first year…nevermind doing a closure task such as these thank you’s. I know I verbally expressed my appreciation many times and also expressed my regret in not sending out the handwritten cards to many people. I hope everyone somehow understands. My advice is that a close family member should just take charge of the task, perhaps funeral directors should make sure this is delegated when arrangements are being made. Or how about a combo memorial card/thank you note? Or how about a no time limit on grief thank you’s…afterall there’s no time limit on grief, it’s an ongoing journey for those of us who are strickened with it…by the way…thank you.

  34. Penelope said on January 21, 2012 at 3:25 pm ... #

    3 words….. THANK YOU Catherine!

  35. Tracy said on February 12, 2012 at 10:27 am ... #

    Thank you so much for this. It’s been 20 months since my husband passed away suddenly from a heart attack. It’s taken all the energy I have to just function on a daily basis. An extremely large percentage of people expressed displeasure at not receiving a thank you note from me. I thanked those I could in person, but to sit down & write a thank you note when I’d lost my entire world seemed less than important. It’s unfortunate so many people can’t empathize & see things from someone else’s perspective! Grief is so very overwhelming, I’m grateful for the days I can walk & breathe at the same time, anything else is extra.

  36. Broni said on February 21, 2012 at 9:45 am ... #

    wow thank you for this. i feel super relieved. i just lost my son in a car accident on Jan 2. i am just starting to function a little at a time. a relative mentioned that they were embarrassed at work because i hadn’t sent a thank you for the plant they sent to the funeral. i told him that i was sorry and would try to get to it. but haven’t yet. i try and then i end up crying. then i am done. i agree, this is not a wedding or a birthday. i am thankful for each day that i had with my son. i am thankful for each new day that the good lord gives me and my strength trickles back.

  37. Kristy said on February 23, 2012 at 11:08 am ... #

    My son died in June after a long battle with cancer. We were brought meals for months, given money, flowers, time, etc. After my son died my Aunt was obsessed about me sending out thank you cards to the people who helped us. She even said she would write them and send them if I got all the names and addresses. I was outraged. How dare she even suggest this after my son died. I never sent them and politely told her we appreciate the thought but were not interested. It was 8 months ago, is it too late to send her this link. Just kidding, I would never do that.

  38. Diane Taylor said on March 23, 2012 at 7:27 am ... #

    Hi there – I am a newly bereaved mother whose only son (age 24) just passed away in a fire on March 1st. It is taking everything I have to just breathe each day and make it to work. It was refreshing to read this post – I do have a list of thanks yous I need to write. But when I pull out the cards and look at the list, it is harder than I thought. We had a HUGE outpouring of support – I jusy hope that they all understand why they haven’t gotten a “thank-you” from me yet!

  39. Lou S said on April 13, 2012 at 2:20 pm ... #

    My husband passed away then my father the following month. I bought over 300 thank you cards and have even brought them with me on trips bc I thought I would have time at night after the kids went to bed and it would be easier not being at home. They are still in the bag and it has been well over a year. I had someone help me log everything into a spreadsheet but then as I took over, the condolence gifts started to overlap and it was just the most difficult thing to sit down and do. I know some people are probably pretty angry about it but I know if they sat down next to me and had to see the list and all the scribbles on various sheets of paper next to the bag of cards, they could probably barely even get through that part.

  40. DonnaB said on April 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm ... #

    First off thank you Catherine for this article and secondly to all the comments as this issue has been weighing heavily on my mom (after unexpectedly losing my dad) for months now. I sent her this link and I just got a phone call from her with the biggest thank you. Not only does writing the thank you’s feel like a monumental task but it would just re-fuels the sadness you live with each day as it is.
    I really like this site and I thank you for all the input and support.

  41. Michele B said on May 18, 2012 at 12:03 am ... #

    I am so glad to have found this site. We just lost my Mother 3 weeks ago and I have felt pressured to write all of these Thank You notes that I received from the funeral. My Dad is still with us but because after 57 years of marriage to my mother he cant even think of her for one minute without losing total control of himself emotionally. So,I have took all of the cards and today just put my mind in a different zone and try not to read the notes but work through it like a zombie because of the pain. Now I worry that I SENT someone a card that will be offended for receiving one or someone gets offended for NOT receiving one. After reading all of these comments I am begining to feel like… Who Cares! I did my best and I am not going to bother my father for his opinion regarding who should or shouldn’t get a thank you note! I hope everyone agrees???

  42. Jennifer said on August 14, 2012 at 4:48 pm ... #

    I am so thankful to have come across this article. My husband passed away 15 months ago and I haven’t been able to send out thank you cards. I am relieved to see that there are other people feeling the same way. Thank you.

  43. Lanie said on August 28, 2012 at 11:24 am ... #

    Thank you for this article. My brother in law passed away 2 months ago and a good friend of mine made a comment about how my sister had not sent her a thank you note (although I did inform my friend that her gift was received by my sister). I wanted to tell this friend “since you have never lost a spouse, I’m sure you don’t understand how difficult it is to even get out of the freaking bed each morning, more less focus on thank you card etiquette”. Come on people…stop thinking about yourselves, you did a wonderful thing for someone who is in a great deal of pain…get your pat on the back from somewhere else.

  44. Regina G. said on August 29, 2012 at 3:24 am ... #

    My 5 year old little boy passed away on June 23rd of this year. Wow so relieved to see this message. We received money, flowers, gift basket, gift cards and his baseball league setup a bank account etc. I hope and pray that just maybe one day I can send some thank you cards out to people that played a major roll to send my baby with a special homegoing. I feel with this article if it never gets done, I will still be ok. I have had several people tell me not to worry about it. I know that people know that I am hurting really bad and understand and not worried about a thank you card.

  45. Karen Anderson said on October 4, 2012 at 1:04 pm ... #

    My husband was killed on 9/11/2012 in a very awful auto accident. We have been together over 33 years. He left for work that morning & never made it to say the least I am devastated. I have Thank You cards that my loving Sister bought for me to write out. They are sitting here in front of me, yet I can’t even look at them without breaking down. Of cause as I write this I am crying, but I can’t seem to pull it together at all. My oldest Daughter & my 2 Grandchildren with here, but She is just as bad as I am right now. Plus She took over all the arrangements for my husband & legal matters. My other Daughter was Daddy’s girl & made all the memorial arrangements & is pregnant so I don’t want to ask Her to do it. I’m thinking of just returning the cards.

    I have lost family & friends before, but this is just unbearable. I don’t see how anyone gets through this. I’m glad I read your article & all the posts. Thank you so very much Catherine.

  46. Rita Johnson said on October 23, 2012 at 7:26 pm ... #

    My husband died suddenly 9/9/12. He had respiratory arrest, had advanced lung cancer. I
    to looked at the thank you cards,around 3weeks,
    and thought how am I going to do this. I wrote
    them out crying and I don’t remember what I had
    written, I wished I found this site sooner. I
    will help the next person out in our situations
    so they don’t have to go through that hurt and
    pain. Losing our husbands or wives are enough
    pain and the grief we have is unbearable.
    Thank you so much Catherine.

  47. C Haynie said on November 17, 2012 at 9:17 am ... #

    My eleven-year-old baby boy died on October 22, 2012. My husband, my daughter, and I are in the stage where we intellectually know it has happened but still expect him to come bounding up the stairs singing some ridiculous song at the top of his lungs. We never realized how much life he brought to our family. It’s so quiet now that I can’t stay here alone; it’s just too hard. I went to wake him that Monday morning and found that he’d passed away in his sleep.The medical examiner told us they wouldn’t know anything for ten weeks. That seems like such an awful long time to wait.
    I’m the strongest in my family, so I have to take care of everyone, and fortunately, I have a lot good friends helping me. However there are things on I can do, and I find myself not being able to take care of them.
    My mother=in-law asked my husband if some flowers someone she knew were received. That’s my MIL’s way of saying you’d better get on those cards. My thought was, “If they did it just get thank you note, they have serious problems or to tell my ML to write one.” I’ve talked to three therapists I know, and they’ve all said the same thing, “Don’t do it. People understand.” I’m trying to take care of my husband and give my daughter a sense of normalcy too. I also has had someone come over the next week to ask me if I wanted to start writing thank you note. No, thank you. I don’t.
    I’m so glad to have found this article. It take some of my worries off my mind, Catherine.

  48. lsat prep coaches said on December 12, 2012 at 2:13 am ... #

    Lmao, yes we law students certainly are a bizarre breed.
    .. well what ever.Nice Post

  49. Michele Rydlicki said on March 9, 2013 at 2:16 pm ... #

    Thank you so much for this. I lost my 15 year old daughter suddenly,on Feb.13,2013. The funeral was Feb.21,2013. The funeral home provided beautiful thank-yous. I can barely function,let alone write down my feelings and remember and it’s over whelming, at this time. I will send them,when I can. I have no special someone to help. So I’m going to give myself a break.Thank you.

  50. sYLVIA said on March 28, 2013 at 7:53 pm ... #

    my son pass away so suddenly on St. Patrick Day this year

  51. Felicia said on May 16, 2013 at 6:28 pm ... #

    My husband just passed away on March 5, 2013 completely unexpectedly. He was a healthy happy man who just turned 40 a couple of weeks ago. I want to write the thank you notes but feel overwhelmed. I am feeling the pressure to get them out in a timely manner. When are people expecting them…that kind of thing. I went online to see the proper etiquette in this situation. Thank you for making me feel better and I shouldn’t feel bad if they don’t go out right now or never. It’s hard enough to wrap my mind around the fact that my husband is gone and my 16 son just lost his father. God bless.

  52. Felicia said on May 16, 2013 at 6:29 pm ... #

    Oh my goodness. Major correction. I don’t know if I’m coming or going…My husband passed away on May 5th not March. Just to prove another point…thank you notes just seem meaningless when you are grieving.

  53. Angel Malone said on July 20, 2013 at 12:43 am ... #

    Definitely feel better knowing I’m not the only one who was worried about the Thank You notes. I mean, I told most everyone thank you in person anyways. The Thank You notes are sitting on a shelf along with the cards I received. I never even opened the box and now almost 6 months later I’m thinking- If they are upset about a thank you, then they have no idea why they sent me the gift in the first place. Thank You notes are for birthdays and showers.

  54. Shae said on August 7, 2013 at 1:04 pm ... #

    I am in love with this “campaign”. Whether it catches on or not, I will encourage people I know who are suffering a loss to embrace it. And I will personally, ALWAYS, include a note in all future gifts + cards I give/send. “Please don’t write me a thank you note. I know you got my gift and I know you appreciate it.”
    Great article and website. Thank you for creating and maintaining it.

  55. Ellen said on August 11, 2013 at 9:37 am ... #

    This morning, I started a search titled “verse for thank you card for sympathy gifts sent very late”. Your site is the first one to come up.

    My mother died September 19, 2012. One year is coming up. In November, I created a beautiful card with her photo inside the card someone has taken just one week before she became sick. One the front is of a lighthouse she loved to visit in New Brunswick. It took me a lot of time developing it.

    No one has received one of these cards yet. Now, the verse inside just isn’t applicable since it is so late.

    My husband and I just returned from vacation from where this lighthouse is. I really didn’t want to go away. We were supposed to go last year, but my mom got sick very suddenly the week before we were to leave. She wanted us to go but how could I with her being given only 2-3 months?

    So this year, we did go. The area is very beautiful but I kept seeing my mom in places we have visited together (we traveled with my mom & dad and then just my mom when dad died). In fact, they are the ones who took us there the first time (we both have travel trailers and camp). She was everywhere I looked. I guess that keeps her close in my heart.

    In July, the Postal Service came out with lighthouse stamps. I went to the small town’s post office and bought them. I sent about 11 postcards with “her” lighthouse on the front and used the stamp of a lighthouse she had visited. I asked the post office to hand cancel the stamps. The 11 cards went to the very special people in my mom’s life (and mine), each was personalized with a few lines of where we were, how hard it is for me being there and implied a thank you to them. They all knew of this lighthouse and her fondness for it.

    I still WANT to send my thank yous but now I don’t feel thank I have to send them before her first year anniversary, which is coming up very fast.

    If anyone reads this, I also want to say that I am crying as I type this as it still hurts so much and miss her so much. Some days are ok, but times like this, it is very hard.

    Thank you so much for this article. It has helped me so much.

    Also, I am very sorry for the loss of all the people who have posted here. I can’t even imagine the loss of a child that some have experienced. All loss is devastating. I hope everyone has a support system that can be relied on.

    Take care.

  56. margaret said on August 14, 2013 at 9:38 pm ... #

    Thank you all so much. My 35 year old son died on March 25 of myelofibrosis. We were so hopeful that he would get better as a bone marrow match had been found for him. He developed a lung infection which he was unable to conquer. I have been worrying so much about sending thank-you cards but like many others, everytime I try to get to it the waves of sadness wash over me and I can’t see for the tears. You have all made me feel so much better about this. The grief is so all consuming that writing these notes is not the priority that I thought it to be. My heart goes out to all of you. God Bless

  57. Alyson said on August 22, 2013 at 6:34 am ... #

    oh, thank you SO MUCH for this article (and this site) I was just sitting here looking at a stack of thank you notes my husband and I need to write out. Our 3 week old son died of SIDS on Aug 2nd and my mom made me a list of who did what/brought what/gave what and the thought of writing out this stack of notes is overwhelming and heartbreaking. I have been sitting here stressing about them for over a week now — I was able to write one to everyone that sent money and am now down to people who sent flowers, food, helped, etc and it’s just too much, someone told me I should send a thank you to everyone that sent me a card and I busted out crying.

    Grieving is exhausting in itself. This article has helped take a little bit of the stress off of myself.

  58. Andonia said on August 26, 2013 at 1:23 pm ... #

    Thank you for your article. I am also comforted by the other comments from the other people. Two years ago, my 33 year old son (my heart and my pride) died suddenly. I thought I would break. I didn’t. Life has a way of going on. Then 2 months ago, my second son, age 28, died suddenly. (Heart attack? I believe he died of a broken heart from his older brother’s death). These tragedies gave our friends a chance to show their kindness (and bravery to be around us…folks shy away at times). I continue to thank them…verbally, e-mail or the occasional letter…but only in my own time (as my heart heals and my brain clears a little). I will continue to thank them….but only a few at a time and over a long period of time. They will understand…or they will learn to understand. And life is about learning. Thank you, again.

  59. Barb said on August 28, 2013 at 6:45 pm ... #

    My 35 yr old daughter died on July 27,2013 from an apparent overdose of prescription drugs. I have been overwhelmed with moving her house into my little townhouse and have been nonstop doing it since 2 days after her funeral. Ihave had very little downtime to even mourn her. I sent out the majority of thank you cards that came from the funeral home, ran out of them but haven’t sent the remainder which are from the people I work with who were very supporting. I feel horrible that I haven’t gotten cards out to these people & am a embarrassed also. The guilt I carry regarding my daughters death and now the guilt of not getting everyone thank you cards out is very depressing. It is nice to read that people understand and that I am not to late to send these out. Thank you.

  60. Jennifer said on August 29, 2013 at 3:32 pm ... #

    Like so many of you that have written here, I too lost my 37 year old son in an accident in June of this year. I want to send cards but have not been able to. I pray that God blesses each and everyone here who has suffered a loss that your heart will heal and you will someday be able to enjoy your fond memories of your loved ones.

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  62. Debbie said on January 13, 2014 at 2:30 am ... #

    I was in line at my Husbands viewing when a woman came up and asked if I received the fruit basket she sent. She couldn’t even wait till after the viewing. I spent the next week filling out 157 thank you notes,2 weeks before Christmas this year.
    I wish I didn’t have to but I think there is always someone expecting a card.

  63. Timéa said on January 16, 2014 at 1:46 am ... #

    Thank you for this. My husband passed away late 2012. Friends set up a trust fund for us and like your story I was unable to track who generously gave what. Also, the whole year was a complete blur. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to say Thank You. I know better late than never but I wouldn’t even know where to start!! Thank you for your insight I guess everyone knows deep down inside we thanked them.

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  66. P. Roth said on October 22, 2014 at 5:00 am ... #

    I was just sitting here feeling guilty that I didn’t send out thank you notes after my husband died 4 months ago from bladder cancer. I’m only 52 yrs. old and my husband always did so much for me. My life as I knew it is gone forever and I have to start all over. again. I so agree with the comments that it shouldn’t even be a priority for the grieving person to write out notes. There is just way too many things to deal with, including emotional upset, financial stress., and just trying to struggle with a whole new way of life.
    It’s such a relief to know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

  67. Curtis Benjamin said on November 7, 2014 at 2:18 pm ... #

    Here is what I do for people grieving as tracking down an address can be very time consuming or you may have the wrong address even. I simply write my address and phone number after the signature for their records. I could care less if I get a thank you card back personally but there are times people look back through the cards and want to contact that person for some reason.

  68. Scott said on January 6, 2015 at 12:30 am ... #

    Thank you for this. I found it a little more than a year after my wife’s suicide when I was wrestling with whether to send thank you notes to half a dozen people that had sent donations to the selected charities more than two months after her death, when I had already written about 70 notes. It reassured me that sending notes a year later was fine, and also that not sending notes to those that provided meals for me and my two children was also ok. This post put things in perspective for me

  69. Laura Kelly said on January 13, 2015 at 10:40 pm ... #

    I will have lost my Dad a year ago on Jan. 23,2015 in a car accident. I am happy I found this blog. My mother is beating herself up about not getting thank you cards out. My Mom struggles everyday with losing her husband of 45 years so suddenly and tragically. I truly believe friends and family and anyone who took the time out to send a card,flowers or whatever may be don’t really care about a card. They just love you and the love one you lost.

  70. Mary said on February 9, 2015 at 5:10 pm ... #

    Thank you for writing this blog. I’m so grateful to have found it today. My husband of 22 years died (soon to be one year ago) suddenly leaving me and my two teenage sons less than an hour of being taken to the ER. I continue to be overwhelmed by the fact that I simply have not been able to send a thank you note. This simple act of acknowledgement seems as though it would make his death our reality (I realize that’s not the case). Although I still feel the need to send thank you notes, I don’t feel quite as guilty after having read your blog and the comments from others who have also lost their loved ones.


  71. Bridget said on February 14, 2015 at 10:40 am ... #

    My mom recently died and I am struggling with thank you notes. Fortunately I found a recent directory of the church, with member addresses, that mom attended. Also, bless the florists who put acknowledgement addresses on the cards sent with the flowers!! The other addresses I will locate in due course. Thank you for putting this into perspective.

  72. Donna said on February 28, 2015 at 11:30 am ... #

    THANK YOU, Catherine, for putting our thoughts into words for all to see and hopefully understand. Losing a loved one is devastating, whether it’s a spouse, child, parent or friend. The sadness and depression is overwhelming and all-consuming. No one who is grieving should be EXPECTED to write these notes. It should be an option. Funeral homes should offer them as an option, rather than making us feel like we are obligated to send them. At the end of the services, doesn’t the funeral director say something like, “The Smith family would like to thank everyone for attending….” Then, there may be a Repast that everyone is invited to. Isn’t this the family’s way of thanking people? Shouldn’t either of these suffice? If it doesn’t, it should not weigh on the grieving family…we have had enough to bear. This should be accepted as the new etiquette.

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