Unless we're in the funeral business, we don't go to funerals very often. It's one of the many reasons for which we don't always know the best ways of expressing our respect, feelings, or empathy for the family members of the deceased. How to act a funeral service is not something we learn in school, and we’re not always aware of the protocols related to a funeral service.
Is it ok to offer money at a funeral?
We know that it's sad when you have to participate in a funeral. If we have some ideas about how to express our sorrow and regret, it's not the same with the funeral protocols. More often than not, people forget that there's funeral etiquette we need to respect.
One of the many aspects related to funeral etiquette is whether it's ok or not to offer money at a funeral. The most straightforward answer is a big fat no. Money doesn't make the proper gift at a funeral.
However, protocols aren't always set in stone, so one can show their respect by giving money more expressively.
What are the most appropriate ways to make funeral donations?
Even if money may not be the best option for a memorial gift, there are ways in which you can help the family through this challenging time in life. Here are some useful suggestions to remember:
1. Don’t give money when you can use a gift voucher instead
Even if a gift voucher is still money, it's going to make a different impression than real hard cash. When you're offering a gift voucher, you can financially support the family who has to pay a lot of bills for the funeral. You can use coupons for food, clothing, day-to-day fundamental needs, toiletries so you can eliminate some of the pressure for the family. And it doesn’t have to be highly valuable. Any amount of money is important.
If you're close to the family, you can take some of the responsibilities for a while. Pay the school fees, cover the transport spending, or the home rent for a month or two.
You may very well offer to buy the casket. As long as you know what the family of the deceased would like, you can simply cover the spending for the casket. We know that it's the most significant investment for the funeral, and there are plenty of options to select from. Go to https://trustedcaskets.com/ to make an idea about what’s out there.
2. You help in times of financial pressure
We hear a lot about how expensive funerals can get, so supporting the deceased's family with finances seems like a wise thing to do. It was challenging when the dead was bringing all the money, leaving the spouse unable to cover all the funeral spending. Should that be the case, family, friends, and colleagues may work together and even create a fund to access it later.
Either way, you shouldn't just hand the money at the funeral. You can use a sympathy card with a message explaining how the fund can be accessed.
Preparing a funeral is costly, and not everyone can afford it. Giving money for easing out the financial burden makes sense. Handing over the money should be done before the funeral, to a representative family member. This way, the money can be used right away for the funeral costs.
Sometimes, the family expresses special needs when it comes to financial support. Therefore, offering money wouldn't offend anyone. You may simply deposit into a bank account, providing cash before the funeral.
3. Is it appropriate to give money just like that?
Once it's clear that the family is ok with receiving money, you need to think about the best ways to do it. You should talk to a family spoke person before the funeral service. Thanks to today's technology, obtaining the bank details, and making the deposit straight into the bank account is straightforward. Don't forget to let the family know about your transfer. You can give a sympathy card (note the details of the deposit inside) and hand it at the funeral.
When you don't have the possibility of banking, but don't want to hand in some cash notes either, you can also use a personal check. Put some money in an envelope. Put the check/notes inside, but don't also forget to use a sympathy card. The proper message can give your gesture the appropriate meaning so that nobody feels uncomfortable in any way.
There was also the situation when the family spoke person has already planned with the funeral director/minister to expect money donations. Should that be the case, you will simply hand him the money when it’s time. Always ask around if the family is accepting money donations or not. You want to donate at the right moment, nevertheless.
4. Is there a perfect moment when you can give the money?
Ideally, you want to offer the money as soon as possible. However, when you cannot attend the funeral, or you're not able to give the money, you should do it right after the funeral. One week after the funeral, people start sending the Thank You notes, and they may skip yours if you send it too late after the funeral.
5. You can also give money to cause, charity, or organization
It's common for the family of the deceased to name the cause, charity, or organization instead of bringing flowers to the funeral. It's easier for friends and colleagues to donate money, contributing in a useful way.
When the family doesn't specify the charity, you can select one that reflects the personality of the deceased. Maybe the dead loved animals, so you may donate to an animal rescue facility nearby. You may very well donate to a local library if the deceased was a writer, or he valued books a lot.
Don’t forget to let the family know about your donation and specify it in the sympathy card. It doesn’t have to be complicated at all. Something like," We all know how Janet loved stray animals. We've donated a small amount to the local animal rescue center. It would have made her happy, for sure," Is okay.
6. Never give cash if the family accepts only donations
You have to pay attention to your family's requests. No matter how busy you are, try not to put some money in an envelope instead of donating to the institution or charity. It's never a good idea. The family is going through a difficult time, so the last thing they want to handle is the disappointment of people not listening to their requests.
7. Is there a precise amount of money you should give?
When it comes to the amount of money you should offer, it's instead a personal decision. Truth be told, any amount of money will do good. Don't empty your pockets for helping out the family, either. When the deceased was a work colleague or someone in the community who wasn't close to you, the equivalent of a beautiful bouquet is enough. Let’s not forget that it's the thought that counts.
8. Mind the differences in religions and cultures
When you participate in the funeral of a colleague or friends belonging to a different religion or culture, you should get informed about the proper method. For instance, it's accepted to give money at Chinese funerals, the tradition being known as the "white gold." Use a white envelope for the money, offering it to a family member before or after the funeral.
Anyone receiving the white envelope will use a Cantonese, Chinese, or Mandarine phrase that translates to "you have a heart" or "you are very considerate." Remember that "Thank you" isn't allowed to say at a Chinese funeral, as it's considered to be part of celebratory occasions. And a funeral isn't that.
What other funeral gift ideas can you consider?
Apart from money, there are other funerals and memorial gifts that you can use for showing your respect and empathy at a funeral. here are some of the most popular funeral gifts:
1. Memorial gifts
There are many memorial gifts to choose from nowadays, and you can find them both in stores and online. A memorial blanket that you customize with embroidered words meaningful for the family is a good idea.
You may look for ornaments that bring comfort or religious statues. An angel or any other type of memorial jewelry can become a nice gift.
When the deceased was close to you, you may have a picture with the deceased framed and offer it to the family.
Flowers are the most popular funeral gift received at a funeral. You can choose a sympathy bouquet or just one flower- the choice is yours. Don't forget that not all religions accept flowers at a funeral.
For instance, you should never send flowers at an Orthodox Jewish funeral. Flowers don't make a good idea when the funeral takes place in a Catholic Church. You'd have to send the flowers to the funeral home instead.
Flowers and colors have special meanings, so you should choose wisely. You want the flowers to express your feelings about the deceased perfectly.
3. Sympathy cards
Along with flowers, sympathy cards also make excellent gifts. One can keep the memory gifts for many years after the funeral. The variety of sympathy cards is impressive, and it's not difficult to find one that expresses your feelings accurately.
Food is also a thoughtful funeral gift, especially if the family of the deceased is dealing with financial challenges. A hot meal, some homemade food, and other treats can bring comfort to the family. It’s also recommended that you offer the food in disposable recipients so that the family doesn't stress about having to clean and give them back to you. Finger food is always the right choice as it's easy to eat while standing. It's also wise to bring some napkins and paper plates along with the food.
5. Sympathy throw blankets
Sympathy blankets and throws are a lovely way to remember the deceased. They also bring warmth during dreadful times. A condolence throw is a visual way of expressing sympathy, respect, and love. Which brings some comfort to the ones left behind.
Instead of a conclusion
You should never bring a big gift to a funeral. Not only that, it's tacky, but it's also stressful for the family who will have to store/place the gift somewhere. Should your mind be set on sending something massive, it's better that you send it before or after the funeral.