Many things in life are difficult, and attending a funeral is one that we all have to do sooner or later. Even if it’s a common thing, the funeral rituals are various and not all of us are familiar with them.
It’s common for people to give money at birthdays, weddings, but at funerals giving money isn’t always a respectful gift. However, the protocols can sometimes be altered and people may still offer money if that’s how they feel, or the grieving family needs the help.
Should you be thinking about offering financial support before, during, or after a funeral service, here are some interesting methods to do it without offending anyone:
Offer a gift voucher instead of money
Gift vouchers are still money, but people may have a different perception when receiving them. When you offer a gift voucher, the family of the deceased may highly appreciate it. You may use vouchers to buy food, clothing, and basic needs, which provides some relief from the constant pressure to make ends meet. Don’t stress if it’s not a large amount of money; even some can go a long way.
Paying for home rent, school, and transportation fees are also ways to financially help the family of the deceased.
You help in a difficult time
Not only are funerals emotionally draining, but they can also be financially challenging, as there are so many things to buy and take care of. The caskets, burial plot, and the ceremony come at great cost, especially when a traditional funeral takes place. When the deceased was the breadwinner of the household, the spouse may not be ready to work just yet. If so, friends, family, and colleagues can all create a fund to access later. Always try your best not to give money at the funeral. It’s better to use a sympathy card with a message about the details on the fund to access.
Funerals are quite expensive, so every little amount of money will help the family recover after the big spend. It’s wise and polite to donate the money before the funeral, after you’ve talked to a family member. Some of the money can be used right away, and you may offer to pay for expenses if the family has already specified a need for financial help.
Give money to an organization, cause, or charity
It’s common for people to name a cause, organization, or charity where the funeral attendants can donate, instead of offering flowers, for example. It’s a straightforward way to donate money and provide you the warm feeling of being of help.
You may choose the charity that matches the deceased’s interests, if there are no specifications made. If the person who died loved to rescue animals, you can help an animal rescue center.
You should let the family know about your nice gesture and write a sympathy card; it will bring comfort to the family of the deceased. Keep the card message simple and respectful.
How should you do it? How much should you give?
There are still questions about the details of offering money at a funeral, so keep reading for clearing things out.
How can you offer the money?
If you know for sure that the family will accept the money, you still need to do it in a respectful way. Ideally, have a talk with the family representative before the funeral. It’s very easy nowadays to make a deposit straight into a bank account. Use a sympathy card to let the close family members about your donation; don’t forget to write down the details of the deposit inside the card.
When banking isn’t possible, a personal check or placing the money in the envelope could work too. Don’t forget to also put a sympathy card with a respectful message.
Some families may arrange with the funeral director to specify that money donations can be made. Nevertheless, always be 100% positive that a money donation can be made at the funeral; the last thing you want is to offend a grieving family.
How much money should you offer?
A family in need will appreciate any amount of money, so offer as much as you can afford. If you weren’t very close to the deceased, you may offer the amount equivalent to a flower arrangement. At the end of the day, it’s the gesture that counts the most.
When should you give the money?
You should offer the money as soon as you can. If you found out about the funeral too late, or if you cannot attend, at least try your best to make the donation as soon as you can after the funeral took place. Funeral plots, casket, flower arrangements, funeral services – they are all paid before and during the funeral, so the family needs the money as soon as possible.
Typically, the family will write the Thank You notes during the first week after the funeral, and your gesture may go unnoticed if you wait too long to do it.
Pay attention to the specific requests of the grieving family. For example, don’t offer money if the family has asked for donations. We know that we live in chaotic times, and that everything happens with the speed of light. Who finds time to go places and make donations for institutions of specific charities? However, it’s a respectful and careful gesture to go by the family’s request. Funerals make the most difficult times in our lives, so we should try our best to help the bereaved family to overcome the sadness.
If the friend/colleague who died had a different religion/culture than your own, it’s best to talk to a family spokesperson and see what the funeral courtesy is like. For instance, offering money at a Chinese funeral is accepted – it’s the “white gold” tradition. You may put the money in a white envelope and offer it to a family member before and right after the funeral. You won’t receive a “Thank you” though, but a Chinese phrase that could be translated at “You have heart”. The rituals are varied, but the grief is the same among all cultures and religions, for sure.