Funeral Etiquette – Flowers & Cards

Aug 24, 2009 | 5 comments

Did you see today’s Dear Abby column? A woman wrote her in-laws a nasty note because when her father died six weeks ago, they didn’t send flowers to the viewing and didn’t send a sympathy note to her mother until two weeks after the funeral. The in-laws lived out of state and weren’t close to the daughter-in-laws’ parents. Their question was, should they have sent flowers, and is two weeks too late to send a sympathy card?

Dear Abby said there’s no law that obligates someone to send flowers, but it’s a compassionate gesture that would have showed they cared. I’d like to note that in Jewish tradition, one does not send flowers, but instead makes a memorial contribution to a worthy cause in honor of the deceased. In funeral planning, it helps to let folks know in the obituary or in phone calls if you prefer a memorial contribution be made in lieu of flowers.

Dear Abby also said it was cold to wait two weeks to extend any condolences when they could have picked up the the phone and called immediately. Having lost my father-in-law four months ago, my opinion is it’s fine to get sympathy cards within the first two weeks, and I was very touched by some of those later-arriving cards. Everything is so busy when funeral planning is taking place, condolence calls on the phone are just one more thing you have to deal with at a stressful time.

Care to share what your experiences are with funerals, flowers and sympathy cards?

A Good Goodbye