Should I Send Money in a Sympathy Card?
A sympathy card is one of the fastest and easiest ways to show your support after the loss of a loved one. Whether you make the card by hand, purchase it from a store, or use a blank card and fill it with a heartfelt message, you are letting the family know how much you care and that the loss is one that affects you on a personal level.
It’s common to send a sympathy card along with funeral flowers or a gift basket, but what about cash? Everyone knows that funerals can be a difficult time, financially speaking, and a gift of money could be exactly what’s needed to support the family. At the same time, some might find the offer tacky or intrusive. Here is everything you need to know about sending money in a sympathy card.
Consider the Deceased
If the grieving family just lost a primary earner or if there is financial hardship attached to the death, then the gift of money is usually welcome. For example, a widowed woman and her children might need financial support for some time after the funeral takes place. A death with a lengthy illness and medical bills might also be more burdensome because of the debts that are left behind. These types of families often appreciate the financial gift more than flowers—and may even have a crowdsource fund set up so you can donate online.
On the other hand, money might not be necessary (for example, after the death of a child or the loss of a parent who was well-prepared and paid for the funeral in advance). In these instances, your gift might make the family uncomfortable. If this is the case but you still want to make a financial contribution, ask instead if there’s a charity you can donate to in the deceased’s name.
Giving the Gift of Cash
The most important thing to do if you send money in a sympathy card is to do it with no strings attached. If you are sending a check or cash, then it needs to be the family’s to do with however they see fit. Don’t specify that it should be used to plant a garden, or donated to charity, or used to pay for cremation. Instead, let them know that your gift is meant to support them in the way they need most.
Say something like:
I’m so sorry to hear of _______’s passing. Please accept this gift in his/her name.
Please accept this monetary gift from our family to yours.
This way, if they are uncomfortable receiving money, they can donate the funds without feeling guilt or pressure. At the same time, if the money is needed to cover the many expenses that tend to crop up after a death, they can use them for their own immediate needs.
Anonymous Financial Gifts
One way to bypass the etiquette question is to give a monetary gift in the form of cash without signing the card or indicating it is from you. This can lift much of the embarrassment associated with personal finances and free the family up to spend the money in a way that makes the most sense for them.