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Say Thank You
Last week my 5 year old grandson, Terrell, accompanied me to the doctor. A nurse gave him some candy and upon receiving it, he grinned from ear to ear. I waited an acceptable period of time and then asked “What do you say?” He finally said “thank you.” Once we were in the car, grandma reminded him that he should always “say thank you” when someone gives him something. When we lose a loved one, we have a number of opportunities to express our gratitude for the things friends and family do for us. There are opportunities on the printed program, during the funeral ceremony, and after the service in the form of a thank you card.
The written program for the traditional African-American funeral service often includes a picture, an order of service, and obituary, a list of pallbearers and an acknowledgement or statement of gratitude. This is a general statement from the family that expresses appreciation “for all acts of kindness shown during their time of bereavement.” Various wording is used, but the bottom line is that the family acknowledges and says thank you for anything that someone may have done for them in support: prepared a dish/meal, given them flowers, served as a pallbearer, donated towards the service, etc…
The “order of service” often includes “Acknowledgement of Condolences.” A family member or friend is asked to publicly acknowledge those who gave of themselves through thought or deed, to assist and support the family. On behalf of the family a general acknowledgement is made, because there is not enough time in the ceremony to thank everyone individually for their kind deeds. Often there is also a statement made such as “all acts of kindness will be acknowledged at a later date.”
As is customary upon receiving most gifts, sending a thank you card is appropriate after the funeral service. This thank you card can be generic, thanking all for what they may have done, or it can be more specific, with a personalized note expressing appreciation for what you received. An example of a popular generic expression is:
Perhaps you sent a lovely card,
Or sat quietly in a chair.
Perhaps you sent a floral piece,
If so we saw it there.
Perhaps you spoke the kindest words,
As any friend could say:
Perhaps you were not there at all,
Just thought of us that day.
Whatever you did to console our hearts,
We thank you so much
Whatever the part.
In my opinion, thank you cards should be sent in an acceptable or reasonable period of time, such as 1-4 months. Those you plan to send cards to, know that you have experienced a tremendous loss and will be patient. But people do want to know that you received their gift. If you are having a difficult time getting thank you cards done, it is appropriate to ask a family member or friend to help you. Your Funeral Director should have a selection of specialized cards, just for this purpose.
Sometimes people say “thank you” and feel that that is enough. Other people feel that “thank you” verbally or in the form of a card, isn’t quite enough and want to gift a person for their participation or support. There are a variety ways to “say thank you.” Whatever means you choose is appropriate, as long as it clearly communicates your heartfelt appreciation.