When Do You Send a Sympathy Thank You Card?


by Eliza
(Trenton, NJ)

Is it necessary to send a sympathy thank you card of or acknowledgment to those who sent me a sympathy card for my father’s passing?
There was no viewing or funeral, but friends and family were informed.
I received sympathy cards but do not know whether or not I need to recognize those who sent a card.

Dear Eliza,

I am sorry for your loss. During this difficult time, anything that you can do to make the burden easier you should do.
Please know that it is not necessary to send out sympathy thank you cards. Also, if you’d like to have sympathy thank you cards sent out, it is completely acceptable to have somebody else send them out on your behalf.
You may find that it is comforting to you to spend time writing sympathy thank you notes or it may be an additional burden to you.
As far as sympathy etiquette goes, the general rule of thumb is: Thank you cards are not necessary for pre-printed sympathy cards, but you should, if possible, send out thank you cards (or have somebody do it for you) for expressions of sympathy beyond a card.
For example: A heart-warming condolence letter, sympathy flower arrangements, meals brought to you, sympathy gifts and also to individuals who participated in the memorial or funeral service.

Robin Thompson, owner of Etiquette Network says, “You do not have to send a thank-you or an acknowledgment card if someone just sent a sympathy card, but you always can if you want to.” Anything extra, however, should be acknowledged in writing. “I’ve noticed sometimes people send a sympathy card, and inside they enclose an old photo of the deceased when they were young, then yes, I think you should acknowledge those things. But just for a sympathy card or even someone who attended the visitation, you don’t really need to do anything.”
Peggy Post, Emily Post’s great-granddaughter-in-law advises that you should always send thank-you notes for “flowers, mass cards, contributions to charities, and acts of kindness.”
These are just general guidelines. I have found that most people who send sympathy cards or seek to express sympathy really are not expecting anything in return.
Best Wishes,