If you’ve received sympathy flowers after recently experiencing the death of a loved one, there may be far more pressing issues on your mind than responding to those who sent them. This is normal and acceptable; nobody expects you to do anything other than work through the grieving process. There may come a moment though when you feel you’d like to respond appropriately to the sympathy flowers, cards, and letters you were sent. It’s nice to recognize the efforts of those who have taken the time to show you their support and love, so when you’re ready, here are some appropriate ways of responding to sympathy flowers.
Displaying the sympathy flowers you receive is an excellent way to let those who sent them know that their sentiment is appreciated. They can be shown placed around your home, the funeral home during the wake or visitation, at the church, or on and near the grave. Most of the people who send sympathy flowers will be attending the funeral or wake, or visiting you at your home. They will be delighted to know that you cherish their gift enough to put it to use.
You don’t need to display them forever, if you’d like to take them down the day after the funeral – that is your choice. Some people like to keep sympathy flowers for as long as possible, others do not; it’s a very personal matter. Do whichever you feel comfortable with. This time is about you, not about satisfying the expectations of others. If you have received too many bouquets to display, offer them to other family members or close friends who may like to have them in remembrance of their dear friend or relative.
Etiquette allows for a certain period of time to elapse before it is necessary to send thank you notes to those who sent sympathy flowers or gifts. Usually no one expects a written thank you before a month, but once you are ready and able, it is good practice to send a small note of appreciation. You needn’t write anything long, in fact a short generic note can be sent to all those who gave you flowers, a gift, or special support. People will know that you are not quite up to writing a full letter, so a simple thank you card with a short personal note is absolutely fine.
It is good to address the person by name, and always sign your own name by hand. It’s also acceptable to thank groups of people with one card. Perhaps your loved one belonged to a social group or association who were very supportive, or the members of your church. A single note can be used in such circumstances to thank everyone for their sympathy flowers and gifts, as it can be displayed publicly on their member’s billboard or equivalent.
The easiest way to keep track of who sends you sympathy flowers is to keep the cards that come with them; you won’t be capable of much else at the time anyway. You can leave them with the arrangement, but there is a chance they’ll get lost that way. A safer bet, and one not taking too much trouble, is to put them in a manila envelope as you read them. Once you’re ready to respond to those who sent you sympathy flowers, you can easily sort through and reply to each person you have a card from. Don’t be afraid to ask friends or family members to help you, most will be happy to do so.
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