We never knew this was something people asked all the time, but interestingly enough this article by All Gifts Considered mentions that is a very common question, below is the Memorial Gift Etiquette Explained.
The Question: Should I Bring A Gift To A Funeral?
The first part question has to do with should, as in, Do I have to? The correct answer is, no. You don’t have to bring a gift for the family when you go to a funeral.
Of course, for most important occasions, it’s always a good idea not to arrive empty-handed, and especially so if you’re close to the family. That’s why funeral flowers are so popular as funeral gifts; a fresh bouquet of flowers is a simple, beautiful, and heartwarming gesture that honors the decedent and shows others that you care.
But not everyone likes flowers. Some pundits even suggest that you shouldn’t give flowers because they will inevitably remind the recipient of death as they decay. Not the greatest option for the sensitive types, eh?
Still, flowers are traditional, so most people will appreciate flowers brought to the funeral. It can be a full funeral bouquet or a single rose. It can be expensive or just a few dollars. The point in this is to bring something that shows respect for the person who passed away and to demonstrate to the family that you care enough to go out and get a small token of your love.
There are also a variety of memorial gift alternatives that many families appreciate. We’ll get into that in a bit, but first, let’s summarize where we’re at so far.
Question: Should I bring a gift to the funeral?
Answer: You don’t have to bring a gift, and in most cases it’s not expected or required. But a small, thoughtful gift is a nice gesture and probably a good idea if you’re especially close to the family.
The Other Question: Should I Bring A Gift To A Funeral?
The other part of the question involves the occasion for the gift. A funeral is a communal event, and all that is really required at the funeral itself is your respectful attendance.
Small gifts like flowers, cards, or small food items are perfect. You can give these types of items to the family and it will be a pleasant gesture that isn’t a distraction. If you would like to give something bigger, more involved, or more meaningful, it would probably be best to give it at another occasion. Save the gift until you can stop by for a visit or drop it off at the house. The week or two after the death of a loved one is a blur for most family members, during which they see many people, make many decisions, and get all sorts of small gifts. Wait for two weeks after the death, or about a week after the funeral, and then contact the family to ask if you can drop off the gift or if they would prefer a visit.
Tip: Always ask if you can stay and visit, and give them the option to just have you drop it off at the door or on the doorstep. Some grieving people have days when they need to be alone; others feel alone and appreciate the company. Be ok with either.
At the end of this article we address a few common questions about memorial gift etiquette and funerals. But first, here are a few ideas for what to bring to a funeral, and what to send when you can’t attend.
5 Memorial Gift Ideas To Bring To The Funeral
1. Single Flower
Inexpensive yet heartfelt and touching. A elegant token that shows you’ve taken the time to select something beautiful in honor of the departed, yet simple enough that you can leave for the funeral twenty minutes early and easily pick one up at a flower shop.
2. Sympathy Bouquet
The classic gift to bring to a memorial service. These are the traditional “funeral flowers,” and in some circles can be an expected gift from family and friends. Lots of meaning can be conveyed in your flower choice – see here for more info on the symbolism of various funeral flowers.
3. Sympathy Card
Take the time to write out a brief note expressing your condolences. Here are some tips on what to write; and here are some creative and/or handmade sympathy cards.
4. Gift Certificate
A gift certificate for a favorite restaurant or store can go a long way. Give an Olive Garden or Applebee’s card if the whole family is visiting and tends to eat out; for a family with tough finances ahead try a WalMart or Amazon card or something from the local grocery store; or maybe go with Starbucks or Subway for the busy mom or working dad.
Food is a true funeral tradition. Bring your special dish to the reception, along with some disposable containers so that the family can take the leftovers home.
Also consider the family’s needs before or after the service. Few people feel up to cooking after a loved one dies. So consider bringing a hot meal, or one for the freezer. Better yet, make sure the family is receiving plenty of food now and then arrange to bring a meal three or four weeks down the road for after the immediate attention dries up.
For more great ideas for when you can't attend the funeral but want to show your respect, visit our Sympathy Store.
This article was published by All Gifts Considered, to view full article click here.