Flowers and cards are the most common ways people express sympathy to the family of the deceased, but sometimes money is offered as well. Funeral services do not usually have a collection box, however, nor is there really a good time to hand the widow an envelope full of cash. Instead, offer your condolences and monetary aid in a discreet manner.
The Funeral Director
The funeral director can be a huge help when it comes to receiving money at a funeral. If you feel that money may be donated, warn the funeral director in advance. He will likely have a plan for handling the donations. The minister can also serve in the same manner. This way, there will be an intermediary between the immediate family of the deceased and the person who is donating the money. If money is handed directly to the family at a funeral, it may cause them embarrassment and the person receiving the money may even feel obligated to the donor, according to Funeralwise.
Sympathy cards are usually brought to the service, mailed to the funeral home or mailed to the family's home. Some may contain money. Do not open them at the funeral. The funeral director will collect them for you and give them to you to open later. When you do open them in the privacy of your home, keep a record of who donated money so that you can thank them later.
In Lieu of Flowers
Sometimes, a family will ask that donations be made in lieu of flowers. Usually the donations are made to a charity, but if the deceased left behind a widow and family, the donations are sometimes used to help pay bills. This is especially true if the deceased fought a long battle with an illness and there are medical bills that must be paid. In this case, a friend or family member usually sets up an account at a local bank to handle the donations. This is an excellent and discreet way to receive money meant to help the family.
No matter the manner in which money is donated and received, it is imperative that the family acknowledge the donations. Etiquette states that it is impolite to mention the exact amount of a donation in a thank you card, so unless you handled the money directly, you may not know the exact amount gifted. This is sometimes the case if a group of people chipped in to pay a bill, or if an account was set up for the family at a local bank. Simply thank the person -- in writing -- for his or her generous gift, and mention how much it will help you. Complete and mail the thank you cards as soon after the funeral as possible.
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