As a funeral director, I am often asked about acknowledgment cards. One of my funeral arts classes, while attending college, focused on the traditions and etiquette surrounding funerals, so acknowledgment cards are an easy subject to explain.
Acknowledgment cards are merely thank you cards addressing services performed by those who participated in any way at a funeral or assisted in relieving the mourner’s burdens. They should be written on card stock, rather than plain paper, and sent out in a timely fashion. Funeral homes offer funeral specific cards for your convenience.
Personally, I have always thought the cards offered by the funeral industry were a little lacking. Therefore, when asked about acknowledgment cards, I always offer an alternative; blank cards from the dollar store.
This past week I had the daunting task of writing and sending acknowledgment cards to those who assisted with my grandson’s funeral. My daughter and her family have suffered emotionally over his loss and as they have experienced exhaustive travel, I volunteered to take on the task.
I am a stationery collector. I have drawers and shelves full of beautiful stationery for every occasion. I love the different designs, weights, sentiments, etc. of each individual set. I do not usually purchase stationery at stationery specific stores. I search out lovely boutiques in towns that focus on appealing to shoppers with unique and discriminating appreciation.
As I approached my task of writing my grandson’s acknowledgment cards, I chose a box of cards that I have treasured for decades. They were lovely – elegant peacocks in a grand display, poised before pure white Grecian columns, painted in beautiful hues by the impressionist’s brush and accented with swirls of gold embossing. I purchased these cards when I was a missionary in the south of France in the early 1980’s. I have held on to these cards for a very long time, holding them in reserve for a very special purpose. I never suspected that purpose would be to express my deepest gratitude for services rendered to my family by those who care and love us most.
As with most things related to my profession, I felt adequately qualified for the task. I sat down at my desk and began putting pen to card. Suddenly, I realized that the experience would be very different than I had anticipated.
Writing an acknowledgment card is nothing like writing a thank you card. A thank you card is usually written about something wonderful; either a gift received, or a kind act performed in your favor. An acknowledgment card is written to thank someone for serving you on the worst day of your life. A day when life is broken, when breathing takes a conscious effort, and when nothing else in the world matters to you. How do you put that; the magnitude of someone’s kindness and service to you, on a little three and a half by five card? You cannot.
For three days, I would approach my desk, take my pen in hand, and attempt the task. For three days, I was unable to accomplish it. As I would touch the lovely cards, purchased so long ago and treasured for a special purpose, my heart would be so full that I could not wipe the tears away from my eyes swiftly enough to keep them from spilling down my face. The words within my heart inadequately represented my soul’s expressions.
Finally, on the fourth day, I had an epiphany. Those plain, pre-printed acknowledgment cards offered by the funeral industry, perhaps were not so lacking after all. I rose from my desk and went to my arrangement room. I reached into the secretary drawer and pulled out a box of plain white cards with black script embossing. I realized a new appreciation for their simplicity and fulfillment of purpose.
I looked at those cards that I so often told clients were not worth their cost and realized that they were worth more than the elegantly printed stationary that I had treasured for so many decades. The simple sentiment, embossed in bold contrast, eloquently expressed all that I needed to say. “Thank you for your kindness and sympathy. It was received with deepest appreciation.”
As I signed my and my daughter’s names to the cards, I remained unable to reign in my emotions as I recalled with great love and appreciation, each act of kindness received from our friends and family. I will never forget their service and love to us on that sad and dreadful day.
Our signatures are barely legible on those cards, but I know that our friends and family realize that I was signing them blindly through tears of sorrow and pain. Preprinted acknowledgment cards may be simple and basic, but they are offered in thanksgiving for the most simple and basic needs known to man, the rendering of love and empathy. The anguish within my soul would have crushed me that day had it not been for the love and support with which my friends and family attended me – that dreadful day that we buried my beloved grandson, Mikey Joe.
For that, I remain everlastingly in their debt.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a Certified Grief Counselor (GC-C), the Managing Funeral Director (FDIC,) and owner of Queen City Funeral Home in Queen City, Texas. I am an author and syndicated columnist. I write books, weekly bereavement articles, and grief briefs related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate survivors toward positive recovery.
It is my life’s work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
For additional encouragement, read other articles or watch video “Grief Briefs,” please go to my website at www.MourningCoffee.com