While sending out thank you notes for the sympathy friends and relatives have shown you after a bereavement, funeral or similar event is considered good form, it's probably not an activity you'll relish while still recovering from a loss. If the majority of the people you want to show your gratitude to live in the same geographic area, placing a few lines of thanks in your local paper could save you from having to pen individual messages.
Consider whether your local paper might publish your message on its letters page. If you live in a small, close-knit community, your paper's editorial team may consider your thank you worthy of publication without you having to pay for space on its classified pages, particularly if you or the person you lost held some sway in your area.
Get quotes from papers serving your area if you need to pay for a classified entry. Request prices per word for your copy and find how much you'll need to pay if you want to add a picture. If you're more concerned about reaching the right people, do some research into papers' circulation and the demographics of their readership. Most paper's provide advertiser's packs including this information, but you should be able to get the numbers you need from advertising/classified sales staff. There'll be no point placing a note in paper with a small circulation that's mainly read by under-30s if you want to reach a group pensioners who were kind enough to come to your elderly aunt's funeral.
Establish if you can have your message published online as well as in the next print edition of your local paper of choice. If you can, you'll be able to send links to all the people you want to reach as well as those who live outside of the area your paper serves. If you can arrange the publication of a letter, your message should stay up online, providing a permanent thank you to all those who expressed their sympathy to you.
Write your message or letter, put it to one side and then read it back to yourself the following day before forwarding it to the paper you've chosen to publish it. Ask somebody you trust to take a look over it for you and advise as to whether you've got the content and tone right. If your message is running print-only, you won't be able to make changes once it's gone to press.
If you're running a print-only ad and want people from outside your paper's distribution area to read it, send copies.