Money in a sympathy card?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Scent of Cedar *, Jun 23, 2014.

  1. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    When is it appropriate to send money in a sympathy card?

    husband believes you send money only if you knew the deceased well enough that you would have sent flowers to the funeral.

    The person we are sending the sympathy card to just lost her sister ~ who was pregnant with twins.

    The person and her husband are close friends.

    My thinking is that funeral clothing and so on are expensive.

    I am thinking like, $25. It isn't the money, it is the callousness of sending money in the face of the loss.

    husband believes it should be only the sympathy card.

    Thank you, everyone.

  2. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    Honestly, I've never heard of sending money in a sympathy card!

    If it's a family member or a close friend and you know that they need help with funeral expenses, you could offer that assistance when you see them or in a phone call. Of course customs vary by area but, to me anyway, sending cash in a card just seems a bit odd.
  3. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    I've never heard of money in a sympathy card, and I've (sadly) gotten my share of them.

    My family and husband's family are Jewish and customarily give money as gifts for HAPPY occasions like weddings and Bar/Bas Mitzvahs.

    I'd think if the relationship allows for it, if you are close enough and know it wouldn't offend, that a quiet, private offer to help out monetarily would be fine.
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  4. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Customs vary. I'm from a large and (possibly strange) Italian family, and we often send money in the sympathy cards, but that is for family and very close friends. It is practical. For a co-worker, or acquaintance, etc. we wouldn't do that, although it's a very thoughtful offering. Some people might take it the wrong way. If you're really close with the sister, you can write a note in the card explaining why you're giving money, and add that you hope it doesn't result in offense. If it were me receiving the card, I'd be so grateful that someone even acknowledged my family's pain and loss, and would think it was a lovely tribute. So many people don't know what to say or do, and they end up doing nothing. How many fruit baskets can people eat? Flowers die and it's depressing. Money is helpful, even when you're in shock. I'm sorry for that family - what a terrible loss.

    Many years ago when I got married, a co-worker of mine who was from a wealthy WASP family, was shocked and appalled that husband and I got envelopes instead of wrapped gifts! She said she'd never, ever been to a wedding where people stuffed cards into the bride's white satin purse and she thought it was hilariously tacky! So customs are customs, I guess.
  5. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Is there a request for donations in her name in her obituary? I would do a donation in her name, but probably not money in the card.
  6. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Money in a sympathy card is pretty typical in the Midwest but my family is from NY so it was surprise to us. My understanding is that it is meant to defray the funeral costs if necessary or to help the family however needed. If the family does not "need" the money - they usually donate it. When we received money in some of the sympathy cards for my Dad, we thanked the person who sent it and let them know we had donated it to "XXXXXXX" in their name.
  7. mom_to_3

    mom_to_3 Active Member

    My experience is the same as Signorina. Typically the money is intended to be used towards funeral expenses. If that is not needed, a donation in made in the senders name. I don't see it as tacky at all, I think it's very thoughtful.
  8. muttmeister

    muttmeister Well-Known Member

    I think it must depend on where in the country you live. I'm in the Midwest and here it is very common to send money in the sympathy card. My mother just passed away about a year ago. Some of the cards had money or a check. Those were used for funeral expenses. A few had checks made out to her church to be used as a memorial. Here it is probably more unusual to get a card without money than with. The thinking is that most people need help with funeral expenses, often the money is donated in lieu of flowers, and if you don't need the money you can make a donation in the name of the deceased. Maybe it's because it's a tradition I grew up with but I like it.
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  9. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    I wish I could recall specifics, but I saw somewhere that in some cultures this is fine. I suspect some might find it odd. But I think if you know the person well, it might be fine. I personally think I would do the sympathy card separate. Then send a separate, very caring and carefully worded note with the check explaining your concern. This is a hard one...
    Keep us posted!
  10. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Thank you, everyone, for your thoughtful responses. The deaths occurred in the South, so money was not enclosed with the sympathy card, per their customs. Like muttmeister, I am from the Midwest, too. It is our custom to enclose some little something to help defray the cost of funeral expenses. Until husband said he would be uncomfortable enclosing money, it had not occurred to me that we might have offended by enclosing cash.

    I must have been living too long under the difficult child "cash is always best" policy!

    Thanks, everybody!

  11. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    While I have never heard of this custom, I think it is incredibly sweet. Funerals can be a real burden to the family, esp if there are medical bills to deal with also.
  12. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    I've never heard of this, but actually I think it's a lovely thing to do, as long as you included a short explanatory note. I think this should be an idea that spreads. Funeral expenses here are off the chart, I don't know what they're like over there. I would certainly welcome small contributions and be grateful for the thoughtfulness.
  13. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    We're about as southern as you can get here. My younger brother just recently passed away and didn't have much in the way of insurance. He's one who sort of fell through the cracks. My sister in law has a very large family living nearby and I know that some of them have helped them out financially. But this is immediate family and very close friends, not the type who would normally go through the formality of sending a sympathy card. Several just slipped her some cash privately or handed her an envelope at the funeral home. But that's because they are family. I've never heard of anyone doing that here for a casual friend, neighbor, or co-worker.
  14. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Wow, this just prompted a conversation between SO and myself about putting money in a sympathy card. I have never heard of it (born and raised in the South). When my sister died 30 years ago, in Oklahoma, we didn't get any money in any cards that I know of.

    At first, reading this thread, it sounded very strange to me.

    But SO (Italian family and from the Midwest) says it is common there. He lost twin sons in infancy and people sent money in cards then.

    So, wow, we live and learn, don't we? Cedar, I would say send it and put a note in the card about it---for husband's sake.

    Very interesting.
  15. Mom=2specialkids

    Mom=2specialkids New Member

    I was surprised when I searched for an answer as to how much to appropriately give in sympathy card. That’s how I found this forum-I’m new!:)
    I would never not give money, but didn’t want to short change either. I’ve lived in Hawaii now for 40 years.
    Here we give money in just about all cards: Funerals, Retirement parties, Weddings, High school Graduations and
    1st Birthdays are a BIG thing here. I guess I’ve been here so long that I didn’t realize how much of the culture it is to always be giving- Aloha.
    I might be better finding out the answer to my question by just asking around coworkers and such.:untroubled:
  16. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I grew up in the Midwest and we would have been horrified to get $ in a sympathy card. After we moved to OK we had a few funerals and again would have been upset to get $ in a card. At least my folks would. I have mixed emotions about it. Money from a very close friend/relative AFTER they spoke to me about it would be okay. I also have an issue with sending flowers though. I think you should send something useful like a freezer meal and/or donate to a college/care fund for remaining kids or the wife. I had a friend who lost her dad while we were in high school and I was truly bothered by one thing. People spent huge sums of $ on flowers for the family but those are very short lived. What would truly have benefited my friend AND pleased her father would be if people deposited the cost of the flowers into an account for my friend's education or for her mom to pay off their home. My friend's father wanted her to go to college so very much, but she simply couldn't pay for it after he died. She worked hard and eventually was able to go but it as much later and harder as she had kids & a full time job y then. Her mother knew a florist and learned that given the number & size of arrangements sent, the cost of those flowers for the funeral would have paid for a year of tuition & fees at least (given the cost at our local state university). It was wonderful that people loved her dad so much but it makes me careful to show how I care by sending something that ill help, like a freezer meal (I can rarely afford to sent much $ but I a a good cookO
  17. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Here in Hawaii, not putting money or a check in a card is puzzling (thats a nice way to put it). It is a custom here to put money or checks in cards.

    So different, the world.
    Isn't it marvelous?

    So sorry for the loss, that is very sad.
  18. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    I noticed recently that the funeral home website (which I was on for a friend's deceased sister's obit) had a spot where you could order flowers, leave a sympathy message, or you could give a monetary gift through the funeral home.
  19. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Do they have an "In lieu of flowers..." message in the obit? Or you could contact the mortuary and see if there has been an account set up to assist in funeral expenses. Otherwise I would probably not.
  20. mom_to_3

    mom_to_3 Active Member

    I grew up in Kansas. It's common there and nobody is horrified or upset by the kind giving from friends and family. Usually you would see anywhere from $5 to $25. It's an act of caring and contributing to funeral expenses or to make a donation in the deceased persons name. It doesn't mean you are poor or needy, it means we care and want to support you. We no longer live in Kansas but when my mother passed away a year ago, a few people did include a small donation. That money was donated to hospice in her name.