“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” ~ William Arthur Ward

If there is one lesson we are all learning during the COVID-19 crisis, it is that the world is full of uncertainty. And, there is no more uncertain time in life than after the loss of a loved one. It is during times of crisis and uncertainty that we most need connection to and support from others. When our family and friends graciously offer their help, kindness, and generosity during and immediately following a funeral, it’s difficult to find words that express the intensity of our appreciation. What can we say and how do we show gratitude to those who care when our lives are turned upside down, and we are emotionally at our lowest?

6 Ways To Show Appreciation

Here are some ways we can show appreciation for others after the funeral:

1. Use the Everdays app

The Everdays platform makes offering a general message of thanks easy to post immediately following a funeral. 

For example, “Thanks to everyone for your kind words, generous gifts, and offers of help during a very difficult time. Your acts of friendship and love have not gone unnoticed. It is comforting to know that we are not alone in our grief.

2. Make a phone or video call

In a time of social distancing, making a personal phone call to say thank you is an easy, yet significant way to express appreciation. It might seem that your words aren’t powerful enough, but this simple act will convey that you truly appreciate your friend or loved one.

3. Write an old fashioned letter or send a funeral thank you note

A handwritten letter or note of gratitude that genuinely expresses thanks is a personal touch that will be treasured by the recipient. 

Below are some keywords to get you started:

Appreciate Grateful Encourage
Value Comforting Soothing
Kindness Reassuring Uplifting
Fortunate Heart-warming Supportive
Thankful Consoling Considerate

4. Create something

Use creativity to express your gratitude. Paint a picture; write a song; knit, crochet, or sew an item; write a poem; or cook/bake a special dish to show your appreciation.

5. Arrange a visit

There is nothing like expressing gratitude face-to-face. Offer to meet for coffee, treat your friend or family member to a meal at their favorite restaurant, or invite them to your home. This act will let them know how much you appreciate their support.

∗ Due to current social distancing requirements, consider sending them a personalized video message, meet up on zoom, or send them a delivery from their favorite restaurant, coffee shop, or grocery store.

6. Offer a gift of gratitude

There are lots of creative ideas to consider:

  • Frame a picture of your friend or family member with the deceased. 
  • Bring them fresh flowers from your garden, offer them a packet of seeds, or buy a small succulent plant. 
  • Share a playlist of songs that evoke memories of the deceased. 
  • If they’ve started a new hobby, provide them with a gift card or small item that will support their interest. 
  • Make them a gratitude jar that is filled with short notes of thanks to provide them with comfort on difficult days. 
  • Present them with an inspirational book and inscribe a personal note on the inside cover. Buy them a candle with their favorite fragrance. 
  • Take them to a movie, sporting event, concert, or play.

Expressing gratitude to those who have lifted us up while we are experiencing significant loss can improve our own mental health. According to Robert Emmons, a renowned expert in the science of gratitude who wrote Why Gratitude is Good, practicing gratitude has physical, social, and psychological benefits (Emmons, 2010). Gratitude can increase resiliency and decrease feelings of stress and depression. In addition, it can strengthen the immune system, help us sleep better, create feelings of generosity and compassion and lessen feelings of loneliness and isolation (Emmons, 2010). Although there is no magic panacea for overcoming grief, expressing gratitude to those who gave us comfort during a time of loss may help alleviate symptoms of bereavement. Even more importantly, expressing our thanks can strengthen the bonds we have with others. Finding gratitude in times of loss, crisis, and uncertainty reminds us that human connection is truly what makes life meaningful.

“It is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” ~ David Steindl-Rast