I'm so sorry that this has happened to you and your family, Elisabunny. I can not even begin to imagine how hard this time has been for you. You and your family have been in my prayers.
I think that you could say things like.........
Your great kindness and generosity has helped ease a difficult time for us...........or
We are overwhelmed by your kindness and generosity...........or
Friends like you have made a very dark time a bit brighter for us.........or
We will never forget the love that you have shown us during our time of need........or
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your love and support.
It shows what a good, good person you are, that you are thinking of thank you notes at this time. Don't worry what you write. These people love you, and want to try to help mitigate a situation that time will only dull a bit.
It would be fine to write to the newspaper. I'm so glad that you have so many loving people around you at this sad time.