If someone you know has passed away, it is helpful to know the correct funeral gift etiquette. It is normal for you to want to give a present or gift to the family, or loved ones of the deceased, at the time when they are grieving. Giving a gift is one way of showing them that you share in their sadness and it also shows that you are offering your sympathy and support. However, you must take note that when you give gifts you should practice proper funeral gift etiquette.
The following are three popular gift choices and some etiquette points that you should consider for each:
Flowers are the most common and safest choice of gift for the family of the deceased. There are typically pre-made sympathy flower arrangements to purchase as a funeral gift, or you may want to make your own arrangement. If you are not certain about the appropriate selection of flowers, you can always ask for the help of a florist. Give him or her the specifications of the funeral, like whether it is for a man or woman, the favorite flowers of the deceased (if you know) and other pertinent information.
It is also important for you to take into consideration the religion of the deceased and his or her family. This is especially important because there may be certain traditions when it comes to funeral flowers for particular religions. For instance, Jewish funerals typically do not involve flowers. On the other hand, Catholics and Buddhists typically appreciate funeral flowers as gifts.
Food is another good choice of funeral gift and can actually be of great help. Many funerals involve a wake or reception, which involve feeding guests and that entails spending money for the food. Hence, it would be a kind and welcome gesture for the family of the deceased if you can bring in food. However, you should also take note of the funeral gift etiquette when giving food as a gift. Unless you have spoken to the family in advance and know that they require food, bringing food to the funeral could be inappropriate.
Any type of food can be a good choice. For instance, you could bring a complete meal, individual dish, or snacks and candies. The bottom line here is that your choice of food should require little preparation. For instance, choose food that requires heating only, because there probably won’t be much kitchen space at the reception. It is also proper etiquette to include a gift card with a short message to the family.
Money is a gift that is commonly given at a funeral. However, the money should not be given directly to the family. Instead, ask the family if they have chosen a charity or other organization to give memorial contributions. Then, send your money to this organization in the name of the deceased. It is up to the organization whether or not they notify the family of the donation. You could include in a card to the family a note that you made a donation to XYZ organization in the name of their loved one. However, if you do this, do not include the amount donated, this is not proper etiquette.
If you were not able to send or give your gift to the family during the funeral, it would still be fine to give it when the funeral service is already over. As a matter of fact, many families prefer receiving gifts after the funeral because at the funeral they will be grieving the loss of their loved one and would rather not have to collect gifts.
Sending a gift at or after the funeral service is a good reminder to the family that you are thinking about their welfare and you are there to support them. Before sending your gift, make sure that you have considered the funeral gift etiquette listed above.
Updated: May 14, 2012