Q: Etiquette on funerals: Are you obligated to send thank-you notes for flowers and memorial checks? Funeral was in December 2015, and I’ve received nothing. Would love to see an article on protocol. Thank you.
A: While it may be difficult, writing thank-you notes or acknowledgement cards after a funeral, is very important. It is a way of personally thanking friends and family members for the love and kindnesses shown to you during a very difficult time in your life. Here are some of the general etiquette rules that apply:
While there is no protocol deadline in sending thank-you notes, mailing them within two to three weeks following the funeral is preferable. Not having received a note for flowers or a memorial check provided for a funeral in December is, unfortunately, a rather lengthy delay. If it was a memorial check you provided, you might want to verify with your bank the check was actually cashed. At least you would know that much.
If it was to a charity, you should have received an acknowledgement card from the charity by now. A call to the funeral home might be warranted to ask them to follow up with the charity if you have not received an acknowledgement from the charity or if your check has not been cashed. I would delay contacting the family regarding the charity check until contacting the funeral home for information. Hopefully, the funeral home will provide answers.
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It is not necessary to write a thank-you note to everyone who came to the visitation, or the funeral or who sent a card, but you want to, go ahead. A formal thank-you note, should, however be written to those who have:
▪ Sent flowers. If it is a specific group or organization, one card can be sent to the head of the group. If each person is identified on the card, a thank you can be sent to each person.
▪ Made a donation to a charity in honor of the deceased
▪ Sent personal letters of condolence
▪ Arranged for a Mass or spiritual bouquet
▪ Sent a condolence card with a personal note inside
▪ Provided food, arranged food, watched children, ran errands, or assisted in some other personal form, and to the pallbearers and honorary pallbearers at the funeral, musicians who performed at the funeral, anyone who did a reading at the service, clergy who presided over the service, anyone who went out of his way to share a memory or story about the deceased which was especially comforting or meaningful, funeral director, physicians and nurses who attended the deceased for an extended period of time prior to death.
Q: A woman cousin who lives in Oregon is going to celebrate her 100th birthday soon. We can’t attend the party, but would like to send a gift. Please, any suggestions would be very much appreciated.
A: What a wonderful event — reaching the age of 100! Your cousin must be an amazing lady!
Hopefully, her health is reasonably good at this point. Besides sending a card, I would suggest a letter inside with an update on what’s going on in your life. If she has a busy day on her actual birthday, she will undoubtedly spend many days after the big day looking at all the cards and notes. I would also include pictures of both you and your family. Write on the back of the pictures to give her details in case they get separated from the card.
A bouquet of flowers would also be appropriate. Whether she lives alone, or is in assisted living or a nursing home, and whether she receives other flowers or not, a room full of flowers is a joy for anyone.
If she is able to take calls, a phone call also would be appropriate and would be a gift in itself.
Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Patrick Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to email@example.com.