“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.”
When you lose someone you love, it shakes you up to the core of your being. Your emotions of grief and sadness have turned you upside down. And the fact that you have to put together a funeral only adds to the overwhelm. Completely grief-stricken, you may have a hard time waking up after a sleepless night. Then you have to get dressed to go about your day to handle the details of what needs to be done for the funeral. You go through the motions, but you can hardly believe they are gone from your life. Yet now you are faced with all the “things to do” to express how much you loved them, to give them a send-off celebration of their life with honor, dignity and regard at a funeral you hoped wouldn’t happen.
Your Support Group
Note-pads can help so you don’t forget something that needs to be done. But let’s face it, your mind is shattered into pieces, and you feel utterly displaced. You need support now, and you realize that you cannot play a symphony alone! It takes an orchestra of people to help you get through this trying time. You need them to support you in taking care of the necessary details to assure that all goes as planned or as your loved one perhaps, indicated to you before passing.
From the florist to the caterer to creating the service program, to keeping track of those loved ones who would like to speak, to friends who want to supply prepared dishes, and to all those who go above and beyond just to make sure you’re okay, you feel appreciation and gratitude. Every little act of kindness makes you feel so appreciative – their expressed thoughts of gentle kindness, thoughtful gestures, their love, their participation and their support.
From the title of this article, you can already guess a good way to let all of those people know how much you appreciate their effort. It’s all about reaching out to people who help us through the funeral experience by sending personalized funeral thank you cards. These can be sent before, during and after the funeral. It’s an easier, less emotionally raw way to thank and acknowledge people for their support. Sending these funeral thank you cards help avoid any awkward moments of tearing up all over again if such were done on one on one in those vulnerable moments.
What is a Funeral Thank You Card?
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
As mentioned, thank you cards for funerals are written to acknowledge the special people in your life who have contributed to helping you with the funeral in a way that showed how much they care about you and the departed loved one. Of course, no one can diminish or take away your heartache. But whatever kind gesture was given your way surely came from a heart of love to help ease and take the edge off the pain. When you write a thank you in a greeting card, you are letting them know you have appreciated their love. And you are sending love back to them with gratitude.
Greeting cards have been around for ages. And I’m sure you’ve either sent one or received one at some time in your life. There are now a multitude of greeting cards on the market, for a multitude of occasions and reasons. However, here we are just addressing funeral thank you cards.
What to Write in a Funeral Thank You Card and to Whom
There’s an abundance of kind gestures individuals do to make your life a little easier before, during and after a funeral. Sending them a personalized expression of your gratitude touches their heart. This can reinforce the feeling that love never dies, even though your loved one has passed on from this physical world.
When you identify who and “what” people have done for you, then you can write something more specific. Make it easy on yourself by first starting with your friends and family who have been there for you in various ways. Even though they may not “need” a card that says thank you, the words that they read from you touches them with love each time they’ll read that card over time. It’s a beautiful experience that they get to feel each time and remember dearly the departed one.
Professionals, like the florist, the funeral director, the mortician, the chaplain, the priest, the minister or friend who officiated the service, a special doctor, nurse and caregiver, each helped alleviate your stress, said a kind word to console, and supported you by easing each step of the process onto the next. Although these things may be considered as all part of their job, there is nonetheless, the warm human element that is undeniable within the business interactions. And when these are acknowledged, it makes their day.
The following questions are meant to help prompt you to know what to address and say:
- Did they donate money to a charity in honor of your loved one or to your loved one’s favorite cause?
- Did they buy a wreath or flowers for the ceremony?
- Were they a pallbearer who was close to your deceased loved one?
- Did they make you food, care for your family, pick up your laundry, go the market, babysit your children?
- Did they send you a personal letter of condolences?
- Were they a musician who played something beautiful that touched everyone who attended and set the ambiance exactly how you wanted it to be?
- Were they someone who read a special reading at the service or shared a memory or a story about your loved one that made you remember the wonderful times you experienced?
- Did they say something to you that made you feel safe and loved up?
- Were they an emotional support?
- Did they stay by you during your loved one’s illness?
- Did they relieve you of care, so you could re-energize?
Sometimes funeral homes will have an array of cards you can choose from. Or you can just use your own “thank you” cards. However, here are some other links that can help you, as well: PURCHASE FUNERAL THANK YOU CARDS.
Your note doesn’t have to be long. A few hand-written sentences are enough to give that genuine, personal touch. Your gratitude expressed with sincerity will ensure you that the recipient will feel your words and take them to heart.
Usually, the funeral thank you cards are sent within a short delay of the funeral. However, you need not to feel pressured as there is no standard rule. The best is to do so at your pace when you feel more emotionally ready. Whenever you do choose to write the funeral thank you cards, the act of writing them may help reconnect you with your friends and family who have by then gone back to their daily routine in life. That special thank-you from you acknowledges them in a simple, yet poignant and powerful way.
You can choose to sign the card in your name alone. Or you can add other family members by simply saying “The Family of…”. You need not to mail some of these personalized, funeral thank you cards, but you could even give by hand. This might be the case for your colleagues and co-workers. And you can always bring these cards to the office when you return. When you sign, make sure you sign your full name as a reminder of the departed loved one’s name as well.
Why Use Greeting Cards? A Brief Look at History
When we are caring for our loved ones who are ill, it’s easy to get detached from the other people we care about and unintentionally even take them for granted. When our loved one has died, we tend to reprioritize what’s important in life. Sending a card of gratitude to someone we care about we know can touch their heart even beyond what we may expect.
In today’s society, we are so inundated with digital technology, we have lost the art of personal letter writing. It used to be that writing a letter was the only way to communicate with someone across the seas. We would have to wait weeks in anticipation to receive a reply. And when we did, we would get quite excited to see a letter or a card in the mailbox. Letters have been a way of staying connected amongst us humans for a very long time.
Sumerian and Egyptian Note-Writing
It’s interesting to take a brief look at the history of note writing. It is said that personal messages were written some 3000 years BC on clay tablets by the Sumerians and the early Egyptians expressed themselves on papyrus scrolls, wishing others well during New Year celebrations, marking new life cycles in nature. Believing in an afterlife, they took their funeral rituals very seriously and many participated in the celebration of life after life. Whether they wrote personal thank you’s to those who helped is still a mystery.
The Invention of Paper
It was the invention of paper in 105AD that transformed the written word as a form of greeting in China. Beginning under the Han Dynasty emperor Ho-Ti, a government official named Ts-ai was the first to start a paper-making industry. They made “paper” by mixing finely chopped mulberry bark and hemp rags with water and letting it dry in the sun. This “paper” was a big success and began being used all over China. It was the beginning of mass-producing paper.
The impetus started in 175AD, when the emperor of China wanted the six main classics of Confucianism to be carved in stone, preserving them for posterity. And because Confucian scholars were eager to own these important texts themselves, they made their own copies by laying sheets of paper on top of the engraved slabs and rubbing charcoal or graphite (brass-rubbing) on the paper to make copies. In 610 AD, the Japanese invented handmade Japanese paper (Tesuki washi), made from different shrubs. It became the strongest paper produced in Japan. When paper reached the rest of Asia and Europe, it became an indispensable material being mass produced by the 13th century.
The Emergence of Homemade Cards
Cards as Status Symbol
Homemade cards began making an appearance in the 14th century. By the 15th century, the elite classes of Europe exchanged handmade paper greeting cards. This is mainly because they were affordable to these classes. The Germans printed New Year’s greetings from woodcuts in the early 1400’s. Then Valentine cards became exchanged in the mid 15th century. Only those with social status would send or receive such greetings. Thus, the greeting card became a symbol of wealth.
Greeting cards were very expensive until the 1840’s when they were transformed to a popular and affordable means of personal communication. This is thanks to advances in printing, mechanization and a reduction in postal rates with the introduction of the postal stamp.
Mainstream Greeting Cards
Greeting cards then became a mainstream item. Lithography in 1930 propelled the greeting card industry forward, and even more artists and writers were hired to create them. Hallmark Cards, established in 1910, was one of the largest card companies in the world. It still exists today and publishes cards in over 30 languages and distributes in over 100 countries. In the 1980’s “Alternative” greeting cards changed the look of the entire industry.
Greeting Cards Today
Today, greeting cards are a billion-dollar industry and have morphed with the digital revolution. You can get all kinds of cards and even personalize them. They’re affordable for everyone, and yet, many people still prefer to receive a real paper card than an E-card.
Some greeting card images are absolutely beautiful and some of the prose written expresses exactly what we would like to say. Because many of us may not have the talent to write what’s in our hearts, using greeting cards already written helps us to express ourselves. The use of imagery and the power of words touches hearts and souls. Sending greeting cards is a way to bring back the lost art of establishing a real human connection through expressing our emotions, our gratitude, acknowledging those we love who are still living… letting them know we are not taking anything for granted, that we love them and think of them and are grateful for them in our lives.
Writing cards is a way of sharing our love, so THEY know it. Has it ever happened to you that someone you thought of died, without you letting them know that you were thinking of them? Don’t let time go by and regret that you didn’t reach out to those people you love.
There are a variety of greeting cards on the market: get well cards, sympathy cards, birthday cards, thank you cards, anniversary cards, wedding cards, baby shower cards, retirement cards, moving house cards, thinking of you cards, consoling cards, inspiring and encouraging cards, change of address cards, congratulations for almost everything cards, wishing someone well cards, and many more. There are so many reasons to express yourself in a card. But sending out funeral thank you cards is very special. That’s because it lets the people who were there for you know how grateful you are for them in your life.
When we address the death of a loved one with honor, dignity and regard, just as we do birth, then we have a complete cycle of life. Life and death are two different sides of the same coin. We cannot have one without the other. So, whether you are writing to someone who has helped you during a funeral you are organizing, or you are writing to someone you love who is dying, the point is to write something, so whoever receives the card FEELS your love.
Life is fragile. We don’t know when it will end for us or for our loved ones. We may each be in a position one day to organize a funeral for someone we love. People will step up and help us. We will help others in their time of need.
Expressing ourselves to those we love is such a very important part of expressing our appreciation and gratitude for the people living. Writing a card is a beautiful, simple way to share what is in our heart. Writing funeral thank you cards filled with love is a wonderful way for healing through the grieving process. It’s a way to stay in touch and to express our inner emotions. This is a way to reach out and let those who step up KNOW how much we care about them, how much we cherish their friendship, their kind gestures, their thoughtfulness and support. It’s a way to keep love alive within us.
Yes, it is so very sad when we lose someone we love. There is no replacing that person (or pet). But to show those who are living that we love them is a way to keep our love alive through the spirit of the ones who have died. As Albert Einstein said, “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.”
Having a funeral is sad, there is no question about that. People gather together in love, holding each other’s hands, supporting each other’s everyday activities, just to get through it all. We are not meant to be islands unto ourselves. Rather, we are meant to be a village, an orchestra, raising and uplifting each other, playing different parts to create a beautiful symphony. We are all in this life together and the communities we create around us are our pillars of strength.
Let people know how much you care. Let them know how they have helped you get through your time of need. One day you will be there for them. That’s the cycle of living and dying. Take one step at a time, one breath at a time. Be easy and kind to yourself, to your human part. Be gentle and tender with your heart. This is not a time you need to be strong. It is a time to allow yourself to be vulnerable and open and allow others to help you.
It’s your life. Enjoy the journey. And remember to bring love into everything you do.