Get a signed copy of our latest book, Emily Post's Etiquette - The Centennial Edition, for yourself or to give as a gift, and support Vermont's independent bookstore Bridgeside Books.

Join our Substack newsletter for more from Emily Post.

Funeral Etiquette: Donations In Lieu of Flowers Hero Label

Funeral Etiquette: Donations In Lieu of Flowers

“In Lieu of Flowers”

When the notations “in lieu of flowers, please…” or “contributions to xyz would be appreciated” appear in an obituary, take your cue from the request. You may still send flowers in addition, but if you wish to send only one expression of sympathy, follow the family’s wishes and choose the contribution.

Graphic: When an obituary says,

When considering a donation:

  • Consider giving at least what you would have spent on a flower arrangement.
  • When you make a donation include a note saying whom it memorializes. Also add it on the notation line of the check or online donation form itself: “In memory of Rowan McGuire.” Include your address, as well, so the organization can alert the family as to where to send an acknowledgement. (You may want to confirm with the charity that they will notify the family of your donation.)
  • If you have been advised to give to your favorite charity, and wish to make a contribution, do so, and choose one that might mean something to the family as well. Include the deceased’s family’s address so the charity will know where to send the acknowledgement.
  • Ordinarily, cash isn’t sent to the family in place of flowers or a charitable contribution, but exceptions can be made. For example, if the bereaved is having financial difficulties, a group (fellow employees, club or lodge members, or neighbors, for example) might take up a collection or set up a scholarship fund for the deceased’s children.

If you want to be sure that the bereaved knows of your contribution, it’s fine to mention it in person or in your sympathy note: “We’ve remembered Maria with a contribution to The Benevolent Society.”