A good friend just lost her husband and I thought I was being somewhat generous in giving $50 to the funeral memorial (which was to the family since there was little life insurance). This was on top of going out during the day before the funeral and spending $20+ on disposable plates and cups and aspirin, etc. Plus taking food over a week later. However, she was going through the donations when I took supper over and she was expressing her shock and disbelief (in a good way) over the fact that people had written them $200-$300 checks!!!
So...what is your normal expenditure? And I realize that you spend more when it's someone special...so break it down. I have given $100 when it was a young tragic death - but I would say that $25 would be more my normal giving. Am I being cheap?
Post by formerexpat on Mar 1, 2011 21:23:55 GMT -5
That's a tough and unfortunate situation for your friend - I'm sorry to hear about her loss. Does she have any children that she'll need to care for?
Depending on how good of a friend the person was and their personal situation, I'd say between $50 - $300. I think it was a nice gesture for you to give to the memorial but it's tough to say you're being cheap without knowing more about the personal situation.
Not related but somewhat similar, my wife and I give her 84 year old grandmother a $250-300 gift card to a grocery store each Christmas. This is more than we spend on any other person, ourselves included. Our reasoning is that she is older, on limited income and enjoys buying the non-necessity foods [mainly English food this grocery store stocks since she is a war bride]. Her situation warrants the Christmas gift, not the event of Christmas itself.
I think the same would hold true for a death, especially an untimely one but it's tough to give you a number. If I remember correctly, didn't you lose your husband to an untimely death? The area where you may be able to most help is in providing comfort and a shoulder for her to cry on, especially with your identification with her situation. Best wishes to your friend.
I don't have an answer for you. When my husband died 12 + years ago I don't remember receiving any funds. My co-workers filled the freezer and fridge but that's all I remember. I don't remember any of the first year and very little of the second. My mind and memory just shut down.
I'm so sorry about your friend's loss. This is a long tough road. One suggestion, don't forget to breathe.
Wow, expat, you have a good memory, because yes, I did lose my husband several years ago. And the most I remember receiving as a memorial (which went to a non-profit) was $100 and the normal gift was $25. So maybe I'm just stuck in a financial time warp with my thought that $25 would be normal and $50 would be for someone a little more special. And maybe people gave more when they knew it was going to a family need?
And yes, I hope to provide a different type of support - emotional support - which will hopefully be the biggest gift of all.
I would only give cash if I wasn't sending flowers. Flowers are about $100 so that is probably what I would send.
My ex's grandfather died and his widow got enough to pay for a headstone.
My brother had three kids die in a fire and almost every card had money. The ex and his two remaining children didn't have a home, ex was unable to walk and all their clothing and everything was gone, no insurance except to pay off the mortgage.
They got donations like crazy even friends of the youngest kid gave money. Some were as small as a dollar, all were appreciated. One uncle gave cemetery plots, the funeral home gave them three for the price of one on the funeral so those were the biggest gifts. Mom paid for the airline tickets and hotels for my brother, his other two kids and herself to go to the funerals and paid for all the food for everyone while they were there. I sent a couple of hundred.
When Dad passed away three years ago, at age 87, I helped Mom keep track of the sympathy cards and checks received so that she could send thank you notes. I still have the spreadsheet that I put together. Of the 43 checks, 30 were $25 or less. The remaining 13 checks ranged from $30 thru $500. I know Mom was very moved by everyone's generosity. I remember her being especially touched by a $5 check from a woman who lived in a trailer and didn't have a lot of extras in her life. Mom has sufficient funds for the rest of her life, so the checks all went to a favorite charity of Dad's. The larger checks, in fact, were from cousins specifically for that charity.
We had an elderly mother of a shareholder and his brother die, she was the wife of another shareholder but he was senile. She had a favorite charity so the company sent a nice donation in her name and got a thank you note. They were wealthy and now her husband died last year too. I am sure her sons appreciated the gesture of supporting their mom's favorite charity.
I think the "right" answer is a combination of how close you are to the family, your own financial situation, and maybe their financial needs. When my daughter died, one family gave us $1000 (!!!!), but most gifts, whether they were friends or family, were $25-$50. Since there wasn't enough time to add her to our life insurance, these gifts covered her funeral, some medical expenses, and some counseling. I know there were many families that would have liked to give more, but I also know they financially shouldn't.
Like you, I would automatically gravitate toward $25. (This is also my mental default amount for other monetary gifts.) For a close friend, or once our finances improve, this will increase to $50. The same amounts would stand for all charity in lieu of flowers gifts. For a family member with large death-related expenses, I would send as much as we could.
Really, the most useful thing came from a friend who had little to no money to share. He showed up with nine boxes of tissue and promptly started cleaning our apartment.
Last Edit: Mar 2, 2011 3:15:59 GMT -5 by Guest - Back to Top
This whole idea is alien to me except in cases where someone dies and the family is left with little money. My son's caregiver lost her husband to brain cancer in 1990; he was only 50 and I knew they were lving paycheck to paycheck. A friend was collecting money for the family and I donated $1,000, but that was a very special case. It turned out that they'd bought insurance that paid off the mortgage if one of them died, which helped.
Other than that I've never donated to the family, but I've certainly made charitable donations, usually $50 to $100.
But in what cultures is this common? I was raised in the Midwest, mixed European ancestry, Roman Catholic, and I never heard of sending money directly to the family except the case I mentioned above.
Where I live, a maintenance worker died and left 3 small kids. I would have sent money to the widow but she asked for any money to be sent to his favorite charity, so I did but I sent $100. I was shocked that a collection wasn't taken up for her but it must be that between the social security that she will collect from him and insurance, she is fine. I am sure that whatever you gave was appreciated.
Post by Savoir Faire-Demogague in NJ on Mar 2, 2011 9:16:27 GMT -5
Donating money to the decease's family is quite common. The cost of a funeral can be quite high.
My 27 year old son died in an auto accident in Sept 2009, as many of you from the MSN forums recall. We had him cremated, and the cost was a little over $5000. A full funeral, with cemetary plot, casket, etc., would be close to $15,000.
My family received over $4500 in donations from friends and family. My ex and I used the cash to create a college savings plan for our son child, our grandson.
In the case of a donation to a charity in honor of the person, I typically send $25-$50 depending on the relationship. We did make a $500 donation to a scholarship fund started in the honor of a mentor of DH's. As far as checks directly to benefit the family, I've only done so when informed of the need, and those have been directed for a specific cause.
Post by Wisconsin Beth on Mar 2, 2011 10:03:18 GMT -5
My standard is a check for $25 at funeral, using the cards at the visitation (I'm horrible about any kind of card) and checking the box marked "For the wishes of the family" I usually don't know the family's financial details so they can donate it, use it to pay funeral costs or just pay bills with it.
Refi's done. Now we owe ~$64,000 on a 10 yr mortgage at 3%. And $1,800 on the land.
"All right, fine! You've convinced me! We'll go take care of all the boring paperwork and stuff so I can officially rule Mechanicsburg with an iron fist. ...But AFTER that, I'd better see some CAKE."
"You know, there's more to being an evil despot than getting cake whenever you want it."
"If that's what you think, then you're DOING IT WRONG!"
Post by NazgulGirl SnowBelle on Mar 2, 2011 11:18:24 GMT -5
First of all, please accept my condolences to all who have lost loved ones here. Giving funds to a family who has lost a loved one is customary around here, and flowers are a little out-of-style, probably due to the deep recession in our state. We ususally give $50 to $100 if it's a friend, and more if it's a relative. Sometimes the family doesn't want anything but emotional support/and/or a contribution to a favorite charity. I remember one time when I was young and lived in N.E., a family in the next town over had had a house fire at Christmastime which killed a family member, and burned them out of house and home. Since the father was a volunteer fireman, I got Christmas toys for the remaining children and a little cash together and took it over to the fire house. The firemen there were so grateful that the towns around were coming together, and I was happy to see that there were about 100 toys, plus clothing, blankets, etc. being stored for the family at the fire station.
The places I have seen cash given is Detroit, Seattle and MN, so it isn't an odd thing I don't think.
I have only given cash when the family had need. My boyfriend was given money by my mom when his dad died. He didn't want or need it and didn't want to profit from his dad's death. He spent the money mom gave him on a plant for her yard. The left over insurance money was spend on flowers for his grandparents graves, he didn't have much just right for the funeral.
It is a nice thought that the immediate family especially elderly widows on low incomes don't have to worry about money the first week. Added cost for things like something to wear or travel when sending back the last SS check can be dealt with later.
We had two recent deaths in our family, DBF's mother (very tragic, very unexpected, very violent death) and my grandmother (also very sad, but neither unexpected nor violent).
DBF's mother died shortly before her birthday, so we had a "party" for her at her favorite pub and I know people gave money at that. There was a donation cup. I think most people gave $5-25. We must have used it for the private memorial service a couple of weeks later, because I don't remember a lot being left over.
When my grandmother died, we didn't get any money that I know of, but many, many people sent flowers and took care of food at the reception after her memorial. It was really nice.
I think you gave a fine amount in this situation. Money helps, but what I've learned in the last couple of months is that when loved ones die, the survivors usually need love and support more than they need cash (not always, but a lot of the time). You're in a perfect position to give that.
I'm so sorry about the loss of your own husband, jitterbug.
The usual gift is typically flowers or a donation to a charity in my neck of the woods. It's usually $25 to $50. I think the whole gift of money was to cover the cost of the funeral/interment when a family couldn't afford to do it. Atleast I think that's how it's suppose to work. I can't remember how much money was recieved when my mom passed 20 or so years ago... I think we donated it all to her Church (where her funeral Mass was said) or maybe to the local Church she belonged to at her Death. There was plenty of money to cover the funeral, wake, and dinner and to have her info added to the headstone with the family graves at the Cemetary in her 'estate'. Other than to give away the money collected I'm not sure what we would have done with it... we didn't need it to bury Mom with style and grace.
FWIW: I do tend to give more if I know the family may have financial issues. When my next door neighbors young son died after a long journey with cancer I gave $250 - I didn't do any food since the family has a large extended family providing food and company. I had also been giving money for various fund raisers thru out the years as well. When my friend's mom died I gave the traditional $50.00 - she didn't need money to bury her mom. Since I knew her mom was deathly ill and that my friend lived alone I dropped off dinner and snacks during the week my friend was spending alot of time at the hospital and then another dinner and frozen homemade food the week after the Funeral.
I typically give a donation to the charity suggested by the deceased's family, and/or send flowers (if I do send flowers, I usually go in with multiple people, so then I'll still do a donation). Depends on the relationship, but I usually give somewhere from $25-75. I've never given money directly to the family (but I'm only 29, so haven't had that many funerals to go to as an adult).
Wow. I had no idea you were supposed to give money for a funeral. I've been fortunate enough that I have only attended one in my adult life. It was my husband's co-workers' son and they did an office collection that we participated in.
But I had no idea the alternative was to put a check in a sympathy card, thanks for the heads up.
Post by ❤ mollymouser ❤ on Mar 2, 2011 14:03:28 GMT -5
I would probably give a larger donation directly to help a needy family than I would donate to someone's favorite charity as a memorial ~ but it would also depend on how well I knew the family/decedent as well as how much discretionary cash we had available at the moment.
I have only been to funerals for my own family members. They were all older without dependents or spouses to support. Expenses were covered by the estate. We didn't receive money in cards, just flowers or donations to various charities.
In the case of our family members I prefer that people donate to a charity, instead of flowers. We had nothing to do with flowers after the funerals. Even a small amount sent to a charity can help someone. I hope that doesn't sound ungrateful. I'm not. I guess I just don't get the point of the flowers.
In the case where the deceased had dependents, spouse, or funeral costs were going to cause the family a hardship, I can definitely see giving the family money. The amount would probably depend on how close I was to the family and what I thought the situation was.
Post by whoisjohngalt on Mar 2, 2011 15:09:40 GMT -5
Wow, how different traditions are. For one, in my religion you do not give/bring/send flowers for the funeral and even though (Thank G-d) I don't have that much experience with funerals, I've never seen any money given either.
People will bring food for weeks to come after the funeral and will visit and such, but no cash.
I can see it if the family is poor and might not have money for the funeral itself, but otherwise, there is usually no cash.
But I had no idea the alternative was to put a check in a sympathy card, thanks for the heads up.
It isn't, necessarily. I'm fortunate- my parents and siblings are all alive and well, so I've never been faced with the death of an immediate family member, but I'd be shocked by a check in a sympathy card. I'd write the giver a thank-you note and donate it to a favorite charity, but it's just not something that happens in my neck of the woods. You need to feel out the territory first- if the family seems to be doing OK financially, a donation to a charity might be a better choice.
Ah, thanks Lena and Athena. I remember my mom making casseroles, but I wasn't sure if my parents just did not give cash, or if I was just ignorant to this custom.
But from this post I learned that when I have to go to a funeral, I should listen for the family's requests rather than just following the rules I was raised by. Sounds like there is no universal cultural norm for funeral gifts.
Asking is a good idea. A recent death of a family member revealed he was penniless, so obviously the money went towards his service & cremation. A typical gift at our house is $25, with more for a close family member (with flowers), or a tragic death. Money doesn't cure all ills, but can help ease the pain. And, for those with money, it can go to their favorite charity.
If its for the children, say college fund, then i give more, but if its a donation to a charity in memory of i'd do 25-50, maybe a 100 if its something i would support anyway... i like to send flowers though... i think funerals without flowers are depressing...
I try to ask what will help the family out the most. It feels awkward usually, but I've only had to send things by mail, so cash wasn't an option. I think if/when I am in that position, I would rather someone ask me than to get something I have no use for.
I've sent gift cards to grocery stores for $50. For a friend with a very sick child in the hospital I sent books/card games.
Our company sets up payroll deductions for donations when an employee is affected by a tragedy (death, fire, etc). I've usually given $20 on those, hoping that most people are giving $10-$20 so that it is still a sizeable amount since the donation process is so simple.