When you are mourning the loss of a loved one, everything may seem a bit out of focus. It's simply a fact of life that nothing is the same after a major loss, and there is a "new normal" that requires adjustments as you struggle to accept it. After the funeral service, you may be left with questions about how to handle the outpouring of love and support that you received. If a lot of people sent flowers and memorial donations, you may be wondering how to best handle reaching out to them. Here are the basics you need to know about handling this delicate matter.
Reach Out in a Simple Way
While you do not have to send detailed, handwritten thank you notes within a couple of days of the funeral, it is nice to reach out and acknowledge any gifts or favors. The initial contact can be brief and extremely simple. An email that lasts a few sentences or a quick voicemail message will do the trick.
In this initial contact, simply acknowledge the kindness and generosity of the gift, express your gratitude, and explain that you will be in touch soon to further express your gratitude. That's a gracious and acceptable way of handling the "thank you" note when you are not ready to devote much time to a letter or card.
Ask for Help
It's totally okay to ask for help in expressing your gratitude for funeral gifts. This is best when chosen for the initial contact after you have received the gift. In your time of need, it's likely that many people will ask, "Is there anything that can be done?" It's totally okay to take them up on the offer. Someone who is in less emotional pain from the loss can more easily reach out and thank those who sent gifts. Because the gift givers were reaching out to you personally, you do want the person who replies to acknowledge that you will be in touch soon.
Send Personalized Cards
It's a good idea to set some time aside to focus on writing thank you cards for the condolences, gifts, and donations that were received at the funeral service. Do this when you think the task won't overwhelm you, and it's okay to ask for help as you do this. A friend can help with putting cards into envelopes and talking you through the task so that it doesn't seem so daunting. When you are writing the thank you card and note, be sure to include the following:
- Describe the exact gift. For example, if the person provided a bouquet or wreath, describe the beauty of it, its colors, why it was a good choice, and why you will remember it.
- Explain how it made you feel and in which ways it provided comfort.
- Praise the person for the gift choice and thoughtfulness.
- Express your gratitude fully.
- Talk a little about how you are doing in the aftermath of the loss. You don't have to elaborate a great deal, but you should touch upon this difficult subject.
- Conclude the letter by thanking them again.
Finally, keep in mind that the way that you handle your grief is your own business. There are no indisputable rules for how you handle expressing your gratitude for what people choose to give you at a funeral. Follow these rules of thumb to make those who sent their condolences and gifts feel good about doing so. It's nice to be thanked and feel that what they did made a difference during a tough time for you.