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Things to Say in Thank You Notes for the Loss of a Loved One

by Betty Jean Steinshouer

After the loss of a loved one, it is sometimes hard to know what to say to those who have helped so much. Even while still grieving, you may be striving to find just the right way to say thank you. You may not even know the people you need to thank very well, but the fact that they came or sent flowers or other remembrances to express their condolences to your loved one is enough. Thank you notes don't have to be long and involved -- just a few heartfelt words, perhaps with a line of scripture or poetry, or a fitting phrase from a favorite song, will be enough to show your appreciation. Personalize each one by mentioning specifically what its recipient did or sent that you are thanking him for. Also try to mention something about him that you or your loved one particularly appreciated. Your closing should be personal; instead of a businesslike "Sincerely," consider "With love" if you know them well, or "warm regards."

Scripture to Quote

If you are a religious person (or if your loved one was), a bit of scripture might give just the right touch to your thank you notes. Also consider the religious beliefs of the person to whom you are writing. If you think it would be meaningful to them, a beautiful scripture to quote in your thank you cards would be 1 Corinthians 13-13: "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." This would be an appropriate quote to someone you feel particularly close to, or that your loved one was close to. Your note could read, for example: "Thank you for being there. She always loved your visits." or "Your love made such a difference to our family."

Sayings from Great Authors

For those you want to thank who are not particularly religious, you could quote a beautiful line of poetry that would express the feeling in your heart, such as "Remembrance is a mighty word" or "Hope is the thing with feathers," both by Emily Dickinson. If your loved one had a favorite author or poet, you might want to quote something from her as a special thank you. Anything that you can do to personalize your thank-you notes will make them special to their recipients. Mention a shared experience together with the loved one, or quote something your loved one said about her or felt about her, such as "He felt better just knowing you were there."

Lines from Songs

Lines from one of your loved one's favorite songs, perhaps one that was heard at their funeral or memorial service, would also be very meaningful to use in your thank you notes. One song often used for such occasions is "Sunrise, Sunset," which contains these lines you could use for a lovely thank you: "Sunrise, sunset Sunrise, sunset Swiftly fly the years One season following another Laden with happiness and tears" You could personalize this by writing something like "Thank you for sharing the good times as well as the hard ones." The folksinger Kate Wolf wrote songs which contain lines that would be particularly appropriate to include in thank you notes for the loss of a loved one. Her song "Friend of Mine" has the line "You always seem to understand the words I couldn't say." With this quote, you could describe one of the ways that the recipient helped, saying for example, "Thank you for sitting with me at hospice." "Trumpet Vine," another Kate Wolf song, contains these lines: "You came when you were needed I could not ask for more Than to turn and find you walking Through the kitchen door." This would be appropriate to send to a friend who was especially present during the grieving process, and add something like, "It was always such a comfort to see your face."

About the Author

Betty Jean Steinshouer started writing professionally in 1980 with a weekly column in her hometown newspaper. She is published in literary textbooks and has penned articles and book reviews for magazines and newspapers. Certified in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, she has degrees in speech communication and English literature.

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