How to Answer a Sympathy Card

Written by louise harding
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How to Answer a Sympathy Card
Send thank-you cards about three weeks after a funeral. (altrendo images/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Thank-you cards are not necessarily required for phone calls, e-mails or for sympathy cards sent without personal condolences written on the card, but thank-you cards are considered polite behaviour for the receipt of flowers, donations, gifts and sympathy cards containing personal, handwritten condolences. Answer sympathy cards with a handwritten thank-you card expressing your sentiments of gratitude in two or three short sentences. According to Simple Sympathy website, replies to sympathy expressions and cards should be made about three weeks after the funeral.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Thank-you card with envelope
  • Stamp
  • Return address
  • Recipient's address
  • Adhesive seal, optional

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  1. 1

    Choose a thank-you card that reflects the occasion, is formal in its appearance or reflects your personal preferences. Sympathy themes such as gardens, angels, nature scenes and religious symbols are good choices. According to Simple Sympathy website, using a preprinted card is acceptable.

  2. 2

    Write a thank-you message to the recipient expressing your gratitude for the previously received sympathy card. Tell the recipient what the card meant to you and/or your family. According to "Good Housekeeping" magazine, the note can be brief. For example, write: "Thank-you for thinking of us in our time of sorrow. Your note was comforting and made us realise how much love and support our family has."

  3. 3

    Place the thank-you card into the envelope and seal it. Write down your return address, if required, the recipient's name and address, and place a stamp in the upper left corner. Simple adhesive seals featuring your initial or a religious symbol or any preferred embossed or printed symbol may be added to the back flap as decoration if desired.

Tips and warnings

  • "Good Housekeeping" magazine suggests asking a close friend or relative to help you write thank-you replies to sympathy gifts, donations and cards. Often when people are bereaved, the thought of replying to so many gestures of sympathy can be overwhelming. Thank-you cards should also be sent to individuals who performed services as gestures of love and support during the time of grief, for example, your pastor, people who brought food, babysitters or anyone who donated their time to you.
  • If you're overcome with grief, don't push yourself to reply to the gestures until you're ready. It's better to wait and send the thank-you cards later than allow the task to harm your emotional state.

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