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Parties Extra! How about thank yous for donations for a loved one who died? 20-40-60 Etiquette

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By Callie Gordon, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace

QUESTION: What is the “rule of thumb” or “rule of etiquette” for sending out a thank-you card or note when one sends flowers to a friend or loved one at a funeral? Sometimes the obituary says that in lieu of flowers, make a donation to a certain charity.

What is the length of time, if any, for said family members of the deceased and or charitable organization to acknowledge flowers or donation? This is a question somewhat similar to the one you had in your column on April 27 about thank you notes for wedding gifts. Actually, to be honest with you, it is not all that big a deal to me but it seems that an acknowledgement of some kind should occur.


CALLIE'S ANSWER: Allow yourself enough time to grieve. Send a thank-you note when you're ready. I don’t believe these types of thank yous have an expiration on them.


LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: Yes, you are right. Gifts should be acknowledged with a note, even after a funeral. There isn't a set time limit on this, but the longer you wait to write them, the harder it is to get them out. However, if you didn't get one, please don't hold it against the person who didn't acknowledge you. Just know that your thoughtful act likely helped ease the person's grief in some way and was appreciated in the way you intended. Maybe that person has been too hurt to respond yet, or maybe she or he didn't do a good job of keeping track of the outpouring of support, or maybe the words aren't coming as easily as they should. Either way, you sent acknowledgement because you cared, not to get a note in return.


HELEN'S ANSWER: In the Oklahoma City community so many people care!

They send flowers, give donations, write condolence cards and other wonderful things for grieving families. The families on the receiving end of acknowledgements of the death of their loved one usually appreciate every single act of kindness and hopefully will get their thank-you notes out as soon as possible.

It is so much better to have the thank-you notes written within the first couple of months because when you start running into friends who want to know if you received their gifts, you might not remember exactly what they did for you. Timely handwritten thank-you notes are still very, very important.

GUEST'S ANSWER: Chuck Ainsworth, local civic leader: Funeral rites serve the purpose of allowing survivors to celebrate and appreciate a life that has been lived. A death is one of the times when contact among those who care is most important.

Those who are grieving have an obligation to acknowledge others who were touched by a death. Letters of thanks should always be written by hand. A personal letter should be written for flowers, charitable contributions, food, letters or other thoughtful acts. A note could be as simple as two sentences "Thank you so much for your kindness. It meant a great deal to our family" will suffice. No thank you is necessary for those attending the service.

The acknowledgements may be done over a month or two. Write a few notes per day rather than a huge list. Writing could aid in the healing process, as grief should be shared.




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Helen Ford Wallace

Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for... Read more ›

Lillie-Beth Brinkman

Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman Read more ›

Callie Athey

Callie Athey is 20-something and is a graduate from the University of Oklahoma. She has worked in various positions, ranging from Event Coordinator to Environmental Health and Safety Assistant. Currently, Callie is an Executive Assistant to a... Read more ›