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NWR: Funerals and "in lieu of flowers"

Before coming the Etiquette board, I definitely didn't know most of the rules.  I had no idea that honeymoon registries, for example, were rude.  My friends had one and I thought that it was a cute, clever idea (especially because they went on a cross-country road trip and actually did all the activities that they said they would).

So I never really thought about whether certain things are considered rude or improper, but it's on my mind a lot more now.  I know of someone who passed away very unexpectedly recently (they suspect it was something with his heart, though he was only about 34), leaving behind a wife and a baby.  The family asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations go to the baby's future education expenses.

What does etiquette have to say about asking for donations in regards to an event like this?  I'd feel a little weird giving money--like, "Sorry your husband died, here's some cash."

(Also, I don't actually know these people--but I've seen the donation request MANY times so I was curious).  Thanks!
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Re: NWR: Funerals and "in lieu of flowers"

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    I think it's inappropriate when the family asks, but ok if someone outside of the family sets up a fund - particularly if the children are still young. And even then, only if the death is going to be a real financial burden to the family - when a well off family loses a child, it makes no sense to have an education fund for the surviving siblings. However, if a lower-income family has a parent succumb to a long illness that racked up a lot of bills, it doesn't seem as odd.

    Disclaimer - this is my own judginess, not actual etiquette. I have no idea what the rules are on that, but I'd assume anyone outside the family who'd like to set up a fund is free to do so.
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    Ditto Lia - it's in poor taste. If I do give anything, it's usually not cash - I've done a giftcard to the local grocery store, when I know that they're hosting the funeral, I've given an edible arrangement, and i've donated to a cancer charity. If there's a benefit event for the kid's education fund (like a concert/motorcycle ride), I'd donate to it, but not just a one-off "donation" to their education.
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    sounds like this man died with no life insurance.  this sadly happens far too often.

    i usually still send flowers or sometimes will donate to a designated charity that they name, provide its one i actually support.  i would never give cash to a fund but that's just me.
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    I would find this weird. I actually am a fan of the whole "in lieu of flowers" thing. Even though my grandmother's funeral was small, we had no needs for tons and tons of flowers lying around from random friends/people who wanted to give their regards. As my grandmother had died of alzheimer's, we requested donations be made to an alzheimer's charity in her name. I find that sort of thing nice. Flowers will just die shortly anyway - a donation to a charity, especially one important to the deceased or to fund research to combat whatever killed them, is a really nice way to honor the dead.

    However, just giving cash to someone would weird me out. IF I were to do that, I'd give some sort of bond that couldn't be cashed until the baby was in college, to make sure the money isn't just getting put into something stupid. But I'd feel a bit awkward about the whole thing.
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    It's super awkward and distressingly vague.

    As people have said, without setting it up in a bond, you just have to trust that it's going to the baby, and that it eventually will be used for college.  

    And on that note, what if the kid decides not to attend college? Where does the money go then?  Does the kid just get to cash out and test the mortal capacity of their liver in New Orleans for a month?

    It's not going to go over well.  People like to know for a certainty what their money will be used for, and that it will be used in a manner they approve of. Trying to guilt them into doing otherwise is just classless.
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    I don't think that they actually asked for cash money--I'm assuming that a fund was started for the baby?  Asking for a monetary donation makes me feel like I'm just handing money over, though, even if it isn't physically handing over cash.

    In any case, I agree with you all--asking for donations to a charity or for medical expenses, etc. makes sense.  You pretty much confirmed what I already thought.
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    NYCBride2013NYCBride2013 member
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    edited April 2013
    As many PP have said I am totally okay with donations to charity in lieu of flowers.  I will not give cash as I stupidly once did.  A friend kept posting on facebook about how her child was sick and she just couldn't afford the surgery so I sent a check for a pretty decent amount of money.  About a month later, the same friend posted a picture of her brand new Mercedes truck on FB.  I was fuming!  When Sandy hit, I saw the same thing occur on FB and unfortunately people donated cash and it was used for unnecessary consumer products when others had no home to live in and no posessions at all :(.

    That said, I do feel for people who experience loss and if I can help by purchasing specific items I will, but I will never give cash again.  I think as adults we should always prepare for even the most unlikely situations and have life insurance if our spouse can't support themselves or their children.

    ETA: life insurance as opposed to health insrance.
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    edited April 2013
    I disagree with what a lot of PP said. But I unfortunately have way more experience with funerals than weddings. Funerals aren't really hosted events nobody sends out invitations, usually food isn't served, and if it is nobody feels like eating. They happen in a couple of days where everything is a blur and a rollercoaster of emotion for those close to the deceased. A funeral isn't a place to side eye a grieving widow with a baby for something like a college fund she may or may not have setup. If you disagree with the fund don't send money and that's it. If you talk about it to others that know the widow you're going too make a lot of people angry, and it's really not worth it. If you really want to do something for the family and don't want to send flowers or give money to the college fund, you can run some errands for her or help with chores. I've cleaned my FMIL's house when her mom died and it meant the world too her and really helped her out. Also what a PP said about giving items like diapers or groceries is a good idea also.
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    I am also going to disagree with the majority of posters here. It's not like she's created a registry.

    This is a very tragic situation that took away the family's income or at least much of it and part of the mother's ability to provide for their daughter's future. In these situations, I really believe that most of the attendees are going to be wondering the same thing that the wife is, "What's going to happen to the family with the new baby?"  and not judging her for the request.

    If people care enough to invest in flowers  (which are uber expensive) in the memory of the deceased, I think they would be just as willing to donate to the fund instead of the flowers as it would have a lasting impact.

    I think people traditionally donate money anyway.
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    I've only seen this once - it was for my dad's cousin-in-law who died of cancer.  His outstanding medical bills almost bankrupted his family, and one of my great aunts sent a private email to family members asking them to send cash to his widow and daughter instead of flowers.  But that said, his widow and daughter did not know my great aunt had made this request, and it was something kept private among the family members - it was wasn't published or anything.  My parents were happy to contribute in that case. It was something the family immediately needed, and the family had not made the request on their own.   I'm not sure my parents would have been as happy to contribute to a college education fund for a small child.  There are many ways to fund a college education, especially when a child is still so young.  Just my $0.02.
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    I think if people disagree with the college fund, they would just give cash.

    I think college fund is nicer to mention than "give us cash"

    I personally would just give cash or a check and not donate to a fund.
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    edited April 2013
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_nwr-funerals-and-in-lieu-of-flowers?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:9Discussion:e91d90c8-7887-4710-bfae-8f0b112b3e3dPost:3a3e8e4a-1265-49c2-9c7c-9d67cec885f2">Re: NWR: Funerals and "in lieu of flowers"</a>:
    [QUOTE]I am also going to disagree with the majority of posters here. It's not like she's created a registry. This is a very tragic situation that took away the family's income or at least much of it and part of the mother's ability to provide for their daughter's future. In these situations, I really believe that most of the attendees are going to be wondering the same thing that the wife is, "What's going to happen to the family with the new baby?"  and not judging her for the request. If people care enough to invest in flowers  (which are uber expensive) in the memory of the deceased, I think they would be just as willing to donate to the fund instead of the flowers as it would have a lasting impact. I think people traditionally donate money anyway.
    Posted by MuppetFan[/QUOTE]


    I agree with this.  I know a family where the father died of cancer.  Even with insurance, the out of pocket expenses were in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  It basically bankrupted the wife.  A donation was set up to help the wife try to get on her feet.  Instead of spending a ridiculous amount of money on flowers that will die, the money went to a good cause. 

    ETA:  I do know that some people who did not feel comfortable giving cash, gave things such as supermarket gift cards.
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    When my mother passed away of a brain tumor in 2008 we did "in lieu of flowers" in her obituary.  We had hoped that the money people would have spent on flowers to go to NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness).  Not only did they help her, but they helped the whole family come to terms with what was happening, what to expect, etc and do so much for people having to deal with brain related issues.  We didn't want a bunch of flowers around to remind us that she died.  It may have been in poor taste etiquette wise, but I know we have no regrets.  A couple hundred dollars was raised for them and that makes me feel good to know money was given to a good cause in her memory. 
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_nwr-funerals-and-in-lieu-of-flowers?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:9Discussion:e91d90c8-7887-4710-bfae-8f0b112b3e3dPost:000774a2-f435-4380-a941-4e906c94b3a2">Re:NWR: Funerals and quot;in lieu of flowersquot;</a>:
    [QUOTE]I disagree with what a lot of PP said. But I unfortunately have way more experience with funerals than weddings. Funerals aren't really hosted events nobody sends out invitations, usually food isn't served, and if it is nobody feels like eating. They happen in a couple of days where everything is a blur and a rollercoaster of emotion for those close to the deceased. <strong>A funeral isn't a place to side eye a grieving widow with a baby for something like a college fund she may or may not have setup. If you disagree with the fund don't send money and that's it. If you talk about it to others that know the widow you're going too make a lot of people angry, and it's really not worth it.</strong> If you really want to do something for the family and don't want to send flowers or give money to the college fund, you can run some errands for her or help with chores. I've cleaned my FMIL's house when her mom died and it meant the world too her and really helped her out. Also what a PP said about giving items like diapers or groceries is a good idea also.
    Posted by ErinElizabethR[/QUOTE]

    I already said that I don't know these people.  I asked my question out of genuine curiosity because I've--luckily--never been in a position to need to know the answer.  And I asked the question here so that I could avoid having the discussion with anyone who knows the widow.  I wasn't side-eyeing this particular widow as much as the practice of requesting donations.
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_nwr-funerals-and-in-lieu-of-flowers?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:e91d90c8-7887-4710-bfae-8f0b112b3e3dPost:79a5071a-96fc-4661-847f-1e405c6c6280">Re:NWR: Funerals and quot;in lieu of flowersquot;</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re:NWR: Funerals and quot;in lieu of flowersquot; : Mmmm. This sentence annoys me. It seems to imply that the people who disagree with you do so because they have less experiences with loss and grief than you. I'm going to go ahead and call BS.  Also fwiw I too " have way more experience with funerals than weddings " and I don't think setting up a cash fund is appropriate. 
    Posted by HoorayForSoup[/QUOTE]

    Agree!
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    In Response to Re:NWR: Funerals and :[QUOTE]In Response to Re:NWR: Funerals and quot;in lieu of flowersquot;:I disagree with what a lot of PP said. But I unfortunately have way more experience with funerals than weddings. Funerals aren't really hosted events nobody sends out invitations, usually food isn't served, and if it is nobody feels like eating. They happen in a couple of days where everything is a blur and a rollercoaster of emotion for those close to the deceased. A funeral isn't a place to side eye a grieving widow with a baby for something like a college fund she may or may not have setup. If you disagree with the fund don't send money and that's it. If you talk about it to others that know the widow you're going too make a lot of people angry, and it's really not worth it. If you really want to do something for the family and don't want to send flowers or give money to the college fund, you can run some errands for her or help with chores. I've cleaned my FMIL's house when her mom died and it meant the world too her and really helped her out. Also what a PP said about giving items like diapers or groceries is a good idea also.Posted by ErinElizabethRMmmm. This sentence annoys me. It seems to imply that the people who disagree with you do so because they have less experiences with loss and grief than you. I'm going to go ahead and call BS.nbsp;Also fwiw I too "have way more experience with funerals than weddings" and I don't think setting up a cash fund is appropriate.nbsp; Posted by HoorayForSoup[/QUOTE]
    I was just saying I've only been to two weddings and over a dozen funerals of people who were very close to me. Half my relatives are dead. You don't know me. It really pisses me off when I hear of someone gossiping about someone in a situation like that widow. Besides I don't think this widow set up the cash fund. if something like a cash fund bothers you, don't send money, then don't talk to people who are probably going to the same funeral about how you think the cash fund is tacky. Its terrible to talk about how a funeral is tacky, people are grieving let them grieve in peace. If you disagree with the fund Just leave it at not sending in money. It's your money you can wipe yourself with it for all I care.
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