Death Donations

by admin on October 3, 2017

I have a question about funeral etiquette that I would like cleared up. Although its something I (very fortunately) do not have to deal with at the moment, I have seen it in obituaries and am confused on the appropriateness.

In just about every obituary I have seen in the past few years, there is a line that will say, “In lieu of flowers, please donate to…” and there is usually a charity, college fund for the deceased’s child(ren), a fund for funeral expenses, etc.

I feel that this turns funerals into a gimme grab. How is it any different than a bride and groom saying they prefer cash to gifts on their wedding invitations? Or enclosing registry cards for a baby shower?

When my child’s father died, his mother requested that in lieu of flowers, people donate to the building fund for her church. Not only was he not a member of that church, he was a strict atheist! His friends–myself included (pregnant with his child at the time)– were not allowed to attend his funeral and pay our last respects to him, but she wanted to make sure we contributed to that church fund! Ever since then, the practice has left a terrible taste in my mouth, but because it concerns families in mourning, I understand I may be wrong.

(For the record, I am not an atheist, but a very happy Christian who is secure in her faith.) 0502-16

I’m curious as to how certain people could be restricted from attending a funeral.   Are there bouncers outside the building with a ban list of unapproved people who are not allowed admittance?   I can see not inviting specific people to sit in the family pews where the primary mourners are seated but blocking people at the door?  Never heard of it.

My thoughts on donation seeking using the death of someone are thus:   It’s one thing to request donations to the deceased’s favorite charity.   Requesting that mourners honor the memory of the deceased with a charitable donation to their favorite charity instead of buying flowers that will die directs money in such a way as to be a final legacy in the deceased’s name.  I’m widely known among family and acquaintances for my passion for two charities and it wouldn’t be surprising if everyone were asked to honor my life with a donation to a charity I loved.

It’s an entirely different thing to request donations in the deceased’s name for a project/charity the deceased had no connection to whatsoever.   That’s exploitation of the situation to fund one’s own pet charities.

As for requesting money to pay for the funeral, in my opinion this is shameful because it exposes the deceased as someone who did not make arrangements for life’s final act thus putting family in such dire financial staits that money must be begged to pay for it.   I’m particular horrified when the deceased left a sizeable inheritance yet the survivors use GoFundMe to pay for the funeral.   Funerals are much like weddings in that there is a difference between needs and wants and the cost can vary considerably depending on what one considers to be a need.   There are choices to be made that all add up to an expensive funeral….limo to and from grave side, teak/mahogany caskets, food for a reception, large tombstones,etc.    Asking people to donate for a $16,000.00 funeral takes a lot of hubris, in my opinion, when there are cheaper options available.

{ 69 comments… read them below or add one }

tessa October 3, 2017 at 5:41 am

When you see a funeral home full of flower arrangements and know that the money spent could go towards a charity, its an “ah ha” moment. In my case, I went to a calling and there was 4 huge/gorgeous baskets with peace lilies in them, given by people who knew and loved the deceased. Only she had just 1 surviving daughter to take home those peace lilies. I now give to their chosen charity. A relative’s family chose to have “donations to the family” as a request. I thought it’d help pay for the burial. Nope, it was so the widow would have some “starter cash” ….found that out after I’d given.

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Mustard October 3, 2017 at 5:51 am

I cannot see how anyone can be barred from attending a funeral; perhaps a request not to sit with family might be made, but enforcing that would be embarrassing and very unpleasant. I share OP’s views on charitable donations in lieu of flowers, and Admin’s, with the proviso that asking for help in paying funeral costs when the deceased is a young person can sometimes be excepted.

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DanaJ October 3, 2017 at 3:29 pm

Some religions may have restrictions on who can enter the place of worship and non-members may not be admitted. For example, I’m acquainted with someone who was married into the Mormon faith and her own mother was not able to attend her wedding because she could not get a temple recommend (sort of like a special guest pass) from the clergy.

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Darshiva October 13, 2017 at 5:02 am

A temple recommend is not a special guest pass. It is for that individual person to go *for themselves* to the temple, and partake of the ordinances there. Only those who partake of the ordinances of the temple may attend the ordinances for other people.

However, anyone is allowed to wait in the lobby of the temple, without regard to their religion. Also, Mormons may be of age and worthy to attend, but may have some other reason they do not have a recommend, so there’s no telling who may not be able to attend the actual ordinance.

Since a lot of guests/friends/relations cannot attend the wedding, most Mormons have a ring ceremony as part of the reception. Brides and Grooms do not exchange wedding rings as part of the actual wedding ceremony. It’s not allowed. So they tend to do it in front of their guests, as a sort of “second ceremony,” that everyone can witness.

Then again, a lot of Mormons don’t have a reception, at all. And it’s not uncommon for people to be at the temple, and hear that so-and-so is there for their wedding, and they just show up in the sealing room to lend their support and good-wishes. It is both formal and informal in a very odd way. For one thing, there is no “making up your own vows.” You use the precise words of the ordinance, and that’s all there is to it. The officiant may choose to give a little speech before hand, but the ordinance, itself, is always word-for-word.

Also, there are no funerals at the temple, so that’s an apples-to-oranges comparison, anyway.

I have heard of very rich people/celebrities having elaborate funerals that were just packed, and they did actually have an invitation list, due to the size of the venue. I saw it on a movie, once, and was shocked that could even be a thing, and then I heard about it more and more with celebrities who had lots of fans. But most of the time, invitations are not a thing, when it comes to funerals.

All this to say that the mother not allowing her dead (atheist) son’s (Christian) girlfriend to the funeral (at a presumedly Christian church which needed some work done), is just beyond the pale.

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Cheryl October 3, 2017 at 6:32 pm

I knew someone who married a divorced man and children from his first marriage HATED her. When he died, they had to have the different families be at the funeral home in shifts so as to not mix the two families. At the funeral when mixing was unavoidable, they had police at the funeral to make sure the peace was kept.

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Just4kicks October 3, 2017 at 7:04 pm

This just happened to my husband and I about a month ago.
My husband’s stepfather passed away, we have not had any contact with him or my husband’s sister in over ten years…too long of a story to post.
My husband and his brother keep in touch, my bil called to say “Dad” passed this morning
and I thought you should know.
There was an awkward silence to which my husband asked his brother “….and?!?”
“Well….I don’t know how to say this, but our sister said to tell you that you and your wife are
not welcome at the services…”
My husband said no problem…tell her we have NO intention of coming.
A few days later, I said to my husband that I wonder what would’ve happened IF we had shown up at the funeral…he said he had been thinking the same thing.

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BeachMum October 4, 2017 at 8:22 am

I know several cases where the funeral was held quickly, and many who might have gone didn’t learn about it until after the fact. It’s not a barring, but it’s similar.

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o_gal October 3, 2017 at 6:07 am

The admin may never have heard of people being prevented from attending a funeral, but it does happen. I’ve never been to the funerals where it happened, but I know at least 2 people who had to make arrangement to prevent certain people from even getting into the church. In those cases, they were trying to prevent people who were going to cause all kinds of trouble. So essentially yes, there were bouncers at the door.

And on the subject of asking for funeral expenses, the only time that I think that is appropriate is when the family’s circumstances are such that the only option they can afford is what used to be called a pauper’s burial. Usually this is when a child is killed and the parents and family literally cannot afford anything.

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Smartimom October 3, 2017 at 7:02 am

I fully agree with the admin on this subject. The only “in lieu of flowers” request that should ever be made should be for a charity or organization that was important to the deceased, in order to honor their memory.
Regarding Go Fund Me- I just don’t like it. I do give money anonymously when I see a need, so I am not speaking out of selfishness, but I just find myself really uncomfortable with the whole Go Fund Me trend. I know it has been used to help people who have suffered major losses in their lives, but often the Go Fund Me requests I get are from individuals who are asking for money for something they want to get or do and I find I feel resentful.

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Anon October 3, 2017 at 8:18 pm

I agree 100%

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Lerah99 October 4, 2017 at 9:55 am

Yes!
I am happy to donate to Go Fund Me for actual needs.
The house burned down.
There are unexpected medical bills.
Something tragic has happened.

There, but for the grace of God, go I.
And I know I’d be in a terrible bind if something similar happened to me.
If I have the room in the budget, I will absolutely help in those situations.

But there are lots of GoFundMe requests that make me want to shake people.

For example: A woman at my work is a single mother. We’re about an hour’s drive from several large amusement parks. She started a Go Fund Me asking for $8,000 because her 5 year old had never been to any of the amusement parks and my coworker wanted to take her for a week enjoying all the various parks.

I understand that being a single mother is hard. And every dime is stretched until it screams.
But vacations are not a need.

We are also a 10 -15 minute drive from world class beaches. Pack some PB&J sandwiches, slather on the sun screen, and have a staycation. Your kid won’t be scarred for life if they don’t get to go to a giant amusement park before they are 10.

My coworker ended up raising $750 out of the $8,000 she requested. She complained bitterly about how she was ONLY able to bring her kid to one of the parks on a day trip rather than spending a week in a hotel and visiting all the parks over the course of a week. So not only did other people pay for her and her daughter to have a cool vacation, she was ungrateful because it wasn’t the huge extravaganza she wanted.

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admin October 4, 2017 at 10:15 am

No pity from me. I was 26 before I enjoyed a week vacation at DisneyWorld and my adult kids have never been.

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NostalgicGal October 13, 2017 at 11:00 pm

I’ve never been. Only thing close to a major amusement park was going to Elitch Gardens once and I lived there for almost two decades before we finally went (It was a Six Flags at the time). So just day passes and we did buy lunch on site, and we still could just barely afford it. My father wanted to take us to Disney back when Walt was still alive and I was at that magical age, and… we never got there. I grew up just fine without it.

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Dee October 4, 2017 at 12:08 pm

I’m with admin, although I had been to Disneyland twice by the time I was in my early twenties. The second time, as a belated honeymoon, was an extreme budget affair, driving the whole way, eating meals I had prepared and frozen at home or buns purchased at stores along the way, camping, etc. One day at Disneyland only, couldn’t afford more, one day at Knott’s, and a day at San Diego Sea World. We worked overtime for months to save up enough for the trip AND to put more money into savings, too. That was over 30 years ago. Our adult kids have never been. My youngest has never been on a plane, my husband and I have never been on a plane together. All vacations have been very cheap and/or very local. Everybody’s gotten along just fine without these “experiences”.

I have mixed feelings about people facing dire situations without insurance. So many of the sob stories in the media calling for public assistance and funding involve people who can afford insurance as much as we can. Or maybe even more. If I pay for my insurance then why would they expect me to pay for their non-insurance, too? The only insurance that is too costly or impossible to get is earthquake and flood. But to not insure when the means are there, and most of the time they are there, is reckless and selfish.

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Dominic October 3, 2017 at 7:02 am

Regarding people being restricted from attending a funeral, sometimes in the obituary or notice, I’ve seen a note that the funeral or memorial service is “family only” or a “private service for family.” If the service was otherwise public, I’m not sure how certain people would be kept out apart from having security at the door (which I’ve only heard of at a celebrity funeral).

My one brother works for a florist, so no one in our family has ever put “in lieu of flowers” in an obituary, but in our community, it is traditional for people to give cash at the wake/funeral, and the funeral home provides envelopes and a collection box for these. When we had an unexpected death in the family a few years ago, the few hundred dollars collected helped in offsetting some of the funeral expenses for the family (no GoFundMe page for us). When my parents each died, we used the money collected as charity donations in their memories.

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essie October 3, 2017 at 7:09 am

RE: church building fund listed as a charity.
For the record, when my brother died years ago, we didn’t know if (or how much) life insurance he had, so his death notice in the local paper included only his name, dates and places of birth/death, and “in lieu of flowers” ONE charity he’d been involved with for years (the paper would print that much without charge).
For his funeral service, the church printed the usual memorial pamphlets, showing his birth and death information and the order of the funeral service. It also included “in lieu of flowers”, the name of a different charity (one I’d never heard of) and the church building fund. Nobody from the church asked permission to be included on the list of charities, they just did it. My brother had stopped attending that church (or any church, for that matter) as a teen due to conflicts with the leadership at that time and he never have wanted them to receive benefits in his name.

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ladyv21454 October 3, 2017 at 3:39 pm

Sounds like the church knew they could get away with that because the grieving family wouldn’t take the time to read over the memorial pamphlet. Not a venial sin, but nonetheless pretty crappy.

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lkb October 3, 2017 at 7:26 am

Please accept my deepest, sincere condolences on the loss of your partner, OP. May he rest in peace and you and his other loved ones be comforted.

I guess that in times of grief I’m inclined to give the family and friends very wide latitude in such matters. Grief does funny things to people and we can’t always know the full story. For example, the atheist possibly made a “deathbed conversion” that the OP doesn’t know about — it happens. Or, perhaps the mother felt that somehow the building fund contributions would redeem his immortal soul. (Not saying it was right or wrong, but perhaps that was her thinking.)

Also, the scent of flowers can be sickening to some, especially if there are a lot of them. It’s hard to know what to do with them all when the services are done. Perhaps the thought was that the funds spent on flowers could be better spent on doing good.

I can absolutely condone contributions to college funds or funeral expenses: If the death was for a major breadwinner who died unexpectedly or who had run up major medical bills, the family may truly be impoverished by the passing, or be dangerously close to the brink of it. We don’t other people’s financial situations, who are we to judge?

As to barring people from attending, while I’ve never seen it done (thanks be to God!), I can understand it: Mourning the loss of a loved one is hard enough without having to also deal with the presence of a supposed enemy. Perhaps a better way to handle it would be to somehow find out when the person in question (i.e., in this case, the mother) is away for a meal break and quietly pay one’s respects then. Perhaps the funeral home staff would be able to arrange that — they must have dealt with similar circumstances. (I think funeral staff have been asked to be well, bouncers (for lack of a better term), in such cases. They are trained to be discreet for these and other matters.)

Case in point, Katherine Hepburn did not go to her longtime paramour Spencer Tracy’s funeral, out of respect for his widow.

Again, wishing the OP comfort and peace.

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lkb October 3, 2017 at 7:32 am

One other thought: Whether the requests for donations is etiquettely correct or not, there is really nothing that can be said or done about it after the fact. Who would have the guts to call out a grieving person for not strictly observing the rules of etiquette, thus adding to their distress, at such a time?

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Cleosia October 3, 2017 at 7:49 am

For me, I don’t care what happens to my empty shell when I leave it. $16K could better serve those I leave behind (we’re not exactly rich) and to me, it would be a waste of money to spend it on a dead body rather than use it to keep the living going.

And, yes, I understand that some people have the money to blow. But some people don’t and will blow it anyway.

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ladyv21454 October 3, 2017 at 3:41 pm

The same way that people who don’t have a lot of money will spend thousands on a wedding.

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Aleko October 4, 2017 at 1:55 am

But, sadly, many undertakers/funeral companies (much like wedding organisers) apply immense pressure to the bereaved to ramp up the expense, implying that if they don’t go for the real-mahogany-with-brass-handles they didn’t really love the dear departed, or will appear mean and disrespectful. Or they just add unnecessary things to the package without the option. For example, here in the UK it’s quite rare (apart from certain minority cultural groups) to have an open coffin, so embalming is usually quite unnecessary. But the undertakers often do it anyway, because it’s expensive, and if the bill is itemised it appears as ‘hygienic treatment’, which sounds like something essential, not a pointless extra. Millions of British people would be surprised to know that their loved one has been embalmed.

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NostalgicGal October 11, 2017 at 3:17 am

Oh yeah… in the early 70’s a family friend died and the widow was pressured into SO MANY additions… like $400 to toss some gold flakes into the cast concrete for the coffin shell in the ground. As well as a coffin shell or crypt to house the casket below ground…. she managed to avoid giving into so many of them…

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Kimberly October 4, 2017 at 8:32 am

Many funeral homes committ fraud and tell the survivors you have to embalm even if you are choosing cremation. https://overcast.fm/+Bj6CfY_-w Has good information.

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Ebeth October 4, 2017 at 12:09 pm

When my mom and I went to look for caskets for my dad, we actually said to each other “These cost more than dad’s car!!! He would not want this!” We didn’t get the top of the line casket and we didn’t get a cardboard box. But it was quite eye opening to see what they charge. Made me decide to be cremated. I am not forking out thousands of dollars for a box to rot in!

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JJ October 4, 2017 at 3:45 pm

100 % agreed. My own family on one side has pretty much all agreed none of us when it comes our time wants some over the top service with a super expensive, over priced casket worth thousands and the most expensive flowers on the market plus catering. Sorry but that’s money I could leave in my will to my family and friends for other things they might need help with or to help them out with say education costs, paying off their home etc. Not that I am rich by any means anyway but I don’t want my family wasting the money I leave or worse, their own money, on some over the top even that I had no desire even when living for anyway. I feel like the funeral industry, like any business, is just mainly a crock with huge mark ups to push vulnerable upset people in a bad state of mind into getting things their loved one really wouldn’t have wanted anyway. “But you want your husband to go out in the best quality coffin don’t you? This one is a couple thousand more but it’s our finest quality for someone like your husband. Now have you thought about catering as well we have a great last minute catering service it’s a real bargain at only a couple thousand for most of the day if you want an all day mourning event”. Such a crock. Give my family my money to spend on a day of celebrating my life that is under budget and relatively cheap and take the rest of the money as divided up in my will for my family for more important issues. And spare the waste on some huge flower bill for something that is going to die soon anyway and wilt just give any of that money to a charity I would love that is close to my family like Diabete’s, cancer, dementia etc.

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Liz October 3, 2017 at 8:05 am

My thoughts on donation seeking using the death of someone are thus: It’s one thing to request donations to the deceased’s favorite charity. Requesting that mourners honor the memory of the deceased with a charitable donation to their favorite charity instead of buying flowers that will die directs money in such a way as to be a final legacy in the deceased’s name.

I agree with this; also, I’ve known donations to be requested to organizations that may have helped the deceased, or the families, during the time leading up to their death. For example, when my dad passed away, even though he never made it out of the hospital to it, we requested donations to the local hospice. My mom and I had visited there, in anticipation of his going there, and knew a few people who had had family members there, and were very impressed with what they did. Being that it was run 100% on donations, we felt that would be something my dad would have wanted, and would also help others who might need their services in the future.

I’m a little on the fence about donations to pay for funerals, kids college funds etc. But I never really know the backstory, did they have life insurance, did they have this or that, so its difficult to judge on that front whether its appropriate or not. I just decide on my own whether or not I choose to donate, and leave it at that. Because sometimes you simply can’t plan ahead, or due to circumstances beyond your control, someone passes away, and there’s no money to pay for any type of funeral, extravagant or simple.

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ladyv21454 October 3, 2017 at 8:29 am

When my nephew died, my ex-sister-in-law tried to keep my brother from attending the funeral. Her younger sister was infuriated by this, and decided to bring my brother as her “guest”. If the funeral service is being held at a funeral home chapel, and not in a church, the funeral home staff can indeed be asked to not allow certain people to enter the building.

As far as someone not making arrangements for their funeral: in this case, it sounds like the deceased was a fairly young man. Most younger people lack a sense of their own mortality and think they have all the time in the world to make end-of-life decisions. When my son was quite a bit younger, I took out a small life insurance policy in his name so that if the unthinkable happened, his funeral expenses would be covered. When he got married, I had the beneficiary changed from me to his wife. Since premiums are very low for a young, healthy individual, I would encourage people to take out a small policy so that there will at least be some money to put towards the funeral.

I do absolutely agree on the hubris of asking people to assist in paying for a high-priced funeral. Any reputable funeral home will work with you to have a lovely funeral that is within your budget. Even better, take advantage of the pre-paid funeral programs most funeral homes now offer. That way, there will be nothing for the family to worry about financially with the funeral – and it will be exactly what the deceased wanted.

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NostalgicGal October 11, 2017 at 3:21 am

Just make sure it is know WIDELY there’s a prepaid. More than a few instances reported here where it seems there was a prepaid in place and various family helped themselves to that much of the estate and asked the rest for help in paying the funeral bill when it was prepaid and already paid.

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Darshiva October 13, 2017 at 5:33 am

Also, if you get a pre-paid funeral, then either don’t move away, or else make absolutely sure your pre-paid funeral can be transferred.

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Marketeer October 3, 2017 at 10:34 am

I don’t have as big an issue with families using GoFundMe to pay for funeral expenses in appropriate circumstances. In many cases, in the immediate aftermath of a death, particularly if it’s sudden, the financial status of the deceased may not be immediately clear or funds may not be readily accessible. My FIL, for example was the classic example of “house rich, cash poor” when he passed. My husband and I had the wherewithal to be able to pay for the funeral and wait several months for the house to be sold to be reimbursed, but that is not true for all families.

I do agree that there are some costs associated with funerals that are completely unnecessary.

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Dee October 3, 2017 at 11:06 am

For the mother to have the power to make the funeral arrangements and obituary she had to have been either the designated next-of-kin or assumed to be. If the deceased was still living with his mother then I can see how that would happen. If the deceased and OP were together then OP would have been the next-of-kin. I feel there is some info missing here.

If my still-living-at-home child died then I would absolutely be the one to decide on the funeral arrangements, regardless whether he was in a romantic relationship or not. Particularly if I also had to pay for said funeral. I hope I could get along well enough with the girlfriend to be able to work with her on the arrangements but I would be the one to make the final decisions.

For the mother to put her pet charities on her son’s obituary is wrong. But, again, if she’s the next-of-kin it’s entirely possible the son had agreed to the idea in principle, out of respect for his mother. But, again, there seems to be info missing from this story.

I don’t think it is greedy to suggest a charity in lieu of flowers. Very few people actually buy anything for attending a funeral – it’s very different, in that respect, from a wedding – that only those who would have bought flowers would find that message pertinent. Even small funerals tend to generate a lot of flowers and I don’t know a situation where the grieving family actually ever gets to appreciate those arrangements. There’s just too much going on and it’s all overwhelming. Often all but one or two of the arrangements gets given away to visitors as they come and go, and sometimes the grieving never even see some of the arrangements at all. So, flowers are often just a waste of money, where a donation can be a bit of a comfort to the grieving.

I don’t understand requesting funding for funerals at all. Funerals can be very expensive or very cheap. It’s up to the next-of-kin what they can afford, and they should plan accordingly. Years ago, when we were starting our family and friends were doing the same, they bought death insurance for their children as they were born and encouraged us to do so, too. I thought it was horribly morbid to profit on the death of a child, and there was no need to have a fund for a funeral. It’s an emergency expense that gets paid for the same as other emergency expenses, are a common part of life and should be budgeted for daily. Thankfully, nobody needed to think about child funerals while we were raising our families. Of course, the insurance holders are now in possession of a bunch of worthless policies, money spent that could have gone to something worthwhile.

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Gena October 3, 2017 at 4:17 pm

I think you may be uninformed about the cost of a funeral. My mother died last year, and I had the least expensive funeral I could have. Graveside service only, no limo, etc. And it was still 6000. and has to be paid for beforehand. Many families do not have that type of cash on hand, hence the insurance policy.

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Dee October 4, 2017 at 12:48 am

Gena – Cremation is cheaper than burial and burial can be quite inexpensive, if you use a plain box or no box at all (just wrappings). Funeral homes like to upsell the grieving and may not reveal their simplest caskets but there are ways around that. Services are not required; sometimes it’s just a small gathering at the home of the deceased, with light refreshments. A funeral, like a wedding, can be as cheap or as expensive as you want. But, like a wedding, it should be what you can afford, and there are many people who cannot afford $6000, and have no insurance, and yet their loved one is “sent off” somehow, so, yes, it can be done.

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Gena October 4, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Yes, but some religions prohibit cremation, and some people just don’t want it done. Also, your point seems to be that buying insurance for your child is bad somehow, but if someone does that, they can have the funeral they want for their child. If you choose not to do so and just pay for it if (heaven forbid!) it should occur, that is your business. Others realize that this awful occurrence just might happen, and the last thing they want to is be arguing over the price of a casket.

and when my child was young, I was able to purchase a 10K policy for 25 cents a paycheck.

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Margo October 4, 2017 at 7:36 am

Dee, regarding who organises the funeral, that may depend by location. I am in the UK, and here, an unmarried partner has no automatic legal right, the parents would still be the ones with the right to arrange the funeral. This changes if there is a will (technically, it is the executors of the will who are legally responsible).

It’s my understanding that the same is true in at least some US states, so it’s entirely possible that a couple could be living together but the surviving partner have no rights to be involved in funeral arrangements (although of course in many cases, where there is no dispute, people in those circumstances will in fact make arrangements, but that is a practical situation, and not a legal entitlement)

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Dee October 4, 2017 at 12:20 pm

Margo – Here, if you are living with your romantic partner for a certain length of time (I think it’s two years or less) then you automatically are assumed to be common-law. I believe it’s the same regardless of gender (same-sex marriage is fully legal). You don’t have to change any paperwork or anything for that to be established, but it could be difficult to prove quickly, in that case. But then the birth family would have great difficulty proving the couple was NOT common-law and it would go from there. But for the body to automatically revert to the birth family would have to mean that the adult deceased was under the care of the birth family, with proof of that. In the OP’s case, I wonder if these are teens or very young adults and the deceased was still living at home. Then the right decision was made as to who was in charge of arrangements. It’s just a shame that OP was left out of the planning and funeral, although we don’t know the details so maybe there was a good reason.

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KenderJ October 6, 2017 at 6:10 pm

My state does not recognize common law marriage in any form. It doesn’t matter if you have lived together for 6 years or 60 years, if one of the couple dies, the next of kin is (in this order): 1) children, 2) parents, 3) siblings, 4) nieces/nephews, 5) aunts/uncles, 6) cousins, and on and on. If there are no blood relatives, then everything goes to the government. An unmarried romantic partner has no more legal standing than the next door neighbor.
However, she was pregnant with the deceased child, so, legally, she should have gotten a share of whatever estate the decedent left for the child.

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Devin October 5, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Here in the states only 11 states still have common law and each of those states have their own requirements. In the event of death, the rights and property of the deceased are transferred to the living next of kin. If the OP and her partner had been together for years but never sought out a marriage certificate or created a will then the OP has no rights upon the partners death. Canada is like the states in that each province creates their own laws regarding common law, from one year with a child up to 7 years of cohabitation.

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mark October 4, 2017 at 10:26 pm

I disagree, I carry small life insurance policies on my children, for this possibility. The policies are just to allow my wife and I to take care of the funeral expenses. There is no profit.

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Library Diva October 3, 2017 at 11:20 am

When my mother died, we requested donations to a couple of charities. A few people did it, and it made me feel as if something good came out of her death.

What surprised me was the number of people who just gave money to my father for the purpose of doing something to memorialize her. I don’t know if it’s because we cremated her. I should add, my parents were financially stable (while not wealthy). Their home was paid off, they’d been retired for a number of years, and both of us kids were adults. My dad used some of the money to purchase those bricks on walkways that you see: one outside our library, and one in a park where she grew up. He planted a couple of trees on his property with the rest of it.

While I agree that it’s gauche to ask for money to cover funeral expenses when it’s an older person who’s financially stable, I think there are many circumstances that warrant it. There was a poorer family that lived near my old neighborhood. Their six-year-old son was hit by a car and killed. No one plans for that. I think we spent about $600 to cremate my mother and have her ashes returned to us in a basic container. When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, that alone would be enough to break you.

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Gena October 3, 2017 at 12:10 pm

Some years ago in my town, there was a horrible accident involving a day care van, and several children were killed. These were lower income families, and a fund was set up to help with funeral expenses. I gladly donated the entire contents of my charity fund at that time.

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Kimberly October 3, 2017 at 1:32 pm

Barring someone from a funeral is easy. You make it clear that in this case, the mother, is going to throw a fit if the unwanted person shows up – so the other mourners are told to be the bigger person and not show up. This is often done when there are two families the legal one with all the rights and the one that was actually in the person’s life. I’ve also heard of this being used to keep partners and true friends from being able to visit the dying.

I also strongly disagree with the idea of asking for money for the funeral is disgraceful. Through my work as a teacher, I’ve been unfortunate enough to witness the aftermath of 2 family annihilations and several attempted ones.
1. 2 students and their mom were killed, the murderer had drained the family accounts before killing his wife, children. So their extended family needed help to have the funeral. Oh and the county wanted the family to pay for the funeral of the murderer after he committed suicide.

2. My coworker’s sister and Mom were killed by the sister’s husband. He intended to kill the kids but their bus driver was out sick and another driver had to do her route then come back and pick up the route these kids were on. The family needed help with the funeral for the sister and caring for her two kids – because the money was in a joint account and the murderer drained it before the police could get a court order freezing the accounts.

The attempted ones were stopped either by a neighbor or kid calling 911. The medical bills were beyond what the survivors could pay in a lifetime.

In another case it was a horrific car wreck. The parents were killed and the children severely injured. They were well off – but after funerals, and medical care for the children – two of the three are paraplegics now, the parents’ considerable savings were drained, and the two kids now paraplegics have maxed out their lifetime insurance payments (ACA solved that but that may be ripped from them).

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Vicki October 3, 2017 at 2:50 pm

I agree with most of this, but not all requests to help pay for a funeral are evidence that the deceased didn’t plan adequately. Some people’s budgets are tight enough that if they die, anything in savings is needed to make up for that lost income and pay for their widow(er) and children’s food and housing. This happened to a friend of mine–she was supporting herself and her disabled fiance, with a little help from his disability benefits. Then she got cancer and couldn’t work. The first priorities were medical care and food, not the funeral they were hoping not to need.

We spent a few hundred dollars to rent a hall and get some food in for a memorial service. Her fiance didn’t need a funeral in the sense of burying a body or having a minister (and I have no idea what happened to the bill for cremating her body, because you can’t get blood from a stone), but that matters to some people. Even the cheapest pine box doesn’t come free, and I won’t fault those who want to bury their dead.

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Outdoor Girl October 3, 2017 at 3:02 pm

In the OP’s case, it sounds like there were a lot of outside issues influencing the decisions made.

In general, ‘In lieu of flowers…’ donation request are fine, though it should be for a charity or charities that the deceased supported. When my Mom passed, she wanted donations to a particular cause but we knew that some people wouldn’t want to donate to that cause so we added a second charity and also a ‘charity of your choice’ line so people could do what they felt most comfortable doing. The vast majority donated to Mom’s preferred cause.

As for ‘Go Fund Me’ or it’s predecessor, setting up a bank account at a local bank that donations can be made into for the family, I don’t have a problem with it. If I know the family of the deceased well enough to know that they would be in financial difficulty even with the most basic of services, and I wanted to help, I’d approach them directly. Maybe not the main griever but another member of the family. I know of one family – and there are going to be many others with this week’s tragedy – that had to have a body brought back from across the country. A Go Fund Me was set up to offset those considerable costs. Anything extra was used to pay for the funeral and to set up a fund for the deceased’s young child. If it was obvious to me that the fund was set up to pay for a lavish funeral? I just wouldn’t donate.

As for barring someone from the service, I can get on board with that. If there is someone that is going to be disruptive or cause emotional distress to the main grievers? Then preventing them from attending is fine, IMO. But if it is just that you don’t like a particular person? Suck it up and be the bigger person.

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Crochet Addict October 3, 2017 at 3:22 pm

I’m slightly torn, but only slightly- when my father died, he was on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, so he always joked (he had a morbid sense of humor) that if he didn’t get his match, we should do an “in lieu of flowers, donate to kidney charities”. And so, we did. (It somehow got twisted by one of my mother’s cousin’s into “please give cash directly to the family because they are poor and can’t afford to bury him- completely not true- Dad knew he probably wasn’t going to be an old man and planned accordingly). He had a lovely send-off, and many people donated and many people also sent flowers. Somehow, flowers seem comforting at a funeral.

As for being barred from a funeral, I have seen this happen on a few occasions- when my husband’s grandfather died, some random guy crashed the viewing, got kicked out, crashed the funeral the next day, and got kicked out. He had a habit of doing that at that funeral home.

When a dear friend’s son passed, he was living with his biological father at the time and his biological father would not let my friend’s family (aside from her daughter, the son’s half sister) into the funeral or viewing. It was a rash move on his part and he later regretted it. (He got it into his head one day when the child was 12 or so that he should get to know him better, and decided after the boy moved in that being a father wasn’t his “thing”, but he also didn’t want to lose face by sending him back). It was incredibly sad.

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Daniotra October 3, 2017 at 3:40 pm

I mostly agree with Admin. When an aunt of mine passed, her daughters requested donations to aunt’s local library in lieu of flowers. I see something like this as a lasting legacy.

I agree that it’s beyond tacky to ask for donations for the family when they have the funds available to pay for the funeral. I don’t have any issue with families living paycheck to paycheck and suffered an unexpected loss asking for help with the basic fees associated with a death. Or for anyone at all to ask for a dish to pass at a wake/funeral reception/celebration of life. I was raised to bring a dish to the grieving family anyway, and it’s a small thing that takes pressure off the family. 15 years ago, it cost us $700 to have my mother cremated. She wanted to have her ashes interred so I would have someplace to go visit her if I needed. We chose one of the least expensive options, a wall niche. It cost nearly $3000 for the niche and the “perpetuity” costs, which go to keep up the grounds at the cemetery. I don’t really want to know how much a casket, burial site, and marker would have been. There were a couple hundred in other costs: death certificates, requested donation to the church who came out to say the prayer during the internment, etc. Fortunately, my mom knew her time was coming, and we set up most of the arrangements while she was in hospice. Mom didn’t have a lot of money, and my husband and I were just starting out in life. If Mom hadn’t had the little bit of money set aside for her final wishes, we probably could have scraped together the money for the cremation and it would have taken us a couple years to save up for the internment site. I live near a low income area, and it’s not uncommon to see carwashes and garage sales set up to fund funerals.

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at work October 3, 2017 at 4:51 pm

I attended a funeral where the family hired an off-duty police officer to prevent one of the sons of the deceased from entering. This was at a church.

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staceyizme October 3, 2017 at 5:05 pm

Intentions of those who solicit contributions “in lieu of flowers” at funerals are no doubt benevolent. However, it is still a case of being benevolent with someone else’s money. Better, in my view, to accept the flowers (if provided), cards, meals and other remembrances with grace (and thanks) than to “suggest” how the dearly loved of the departed should honor their memory. I don’t see how it’s any different than “no gifts” or “only this specific kind of gift” at other events. Asking for contributions towards the cost of the funeral isn’t ideal either, I agree. But- if there is need, then perhaps that is better than debt, provided that prudence prevails. Some losses are either unexpected (the very young) or come at very difficult times (illness or other difficulty that has drained available resources). Begging is never the ideal first option. But neither, if it is truly unavoidable, is it shameful.

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Melissa October 4, 2017 at 10:37 am

Some people, like me, will seek out an “in lieu of flowers….” message, and if there isn’t one, and the funeral home has no direction, then we’re stuck ordering an overpriced flower arrangement or plant. Which is fine, but I’d rather make a donation where it can be used for something worthwhile to honor the deceased.

This isn’t the same as a wedding or birthday party, where there is reasonable expectation and time for guests to ask the person(s) of honor what they would like, etc, not to mention if you are invited to a wedding or birthday party, hopefully you know enough about the couple or birthday person to get a suitable gift. It also isn’t the same as a wedding or birthday party because it’s not a gift giving occasion. Many people attend funerals and don’t give financially or send flowers, and that’s perfectly appropriate. While gift giving is always optional, if you attend a wedding or birthday party, it is definitely expected and normal to give a gift, so in those cases, yes it’s rude to tell people what to get you unless that information is being “pulled” from you instead of “pushed” by you. And with funerals, there is often just a matter of a few days to plan everything, there’s not time for word to get around like there is for weddings or birthdays, so the information can’t be “pulled”.

In my case, if I’m donating or sending flowers for a funeral, it’s work related, so I may not know the deceased at all and may not even know their family member that well, so I can hardly choose a charitable organization to donate to in their honor. It’s also not a time to contact someone close to the deceased to ask that question. So, if there is no direction, then I end up spending a chunk of money on flowers or a plant that could have gone to something worthwhile. If the family wants lots of flowers, I am totally fine with that. But often I think the family is so overwhelmed that they don’t think about it, because to be honest, even if you do like flowers, you can only handle so many arrangements!

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Melissa October 4, 2017 at 10:46 am

I also wanted to add that I do disagree with choosing a charity that does not fit with what the deceased would have wanted! There are many worthwhile areas that need financial help, and even if the deceased didn’t have a “pet” charity, if you are close to the person then you should be able to work out a charity or 2 that they’d prefer. I am a church going person but I feel like it’s wrong to ask friends of an atheist to build a church in his honor. Most likely the mom in the OP just wanted the recognition from her church friends.

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Amethyst Anne October 3, 2017 at 5:12 pm

My father’s funeral service was yesterday. In local newspaper’s obituary, Mom had requested that in lieu of flowers, that donations please be made to the local Emergency Squad. The Squad has been there for members of my family over the years, and especially for Dad within this past month.

Near the attendance book at the funeral home, was a stack of envelopes pre-addressed to the Squad (if anyone wished to make a donation).

As an aside, do what you(general) can do to plan for the different aspects of your final fairwell. Talk every once in awhile with your family about what kind of service you would like. Dad did that and it was a great kindness when it came time to plan his services. A couple years ago, Mom and Dad had written their obituaries, bought their cemetery plot, chose their headstone, and had their names and birth dates engraved on the stone. The receipt for the plot, the headstone, Dad’s military DD-214, birth and marriage certificates, wills, insurance policies, etc were all kept together in a safe place (not a secure box at the bank).

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lkb October 4, 2017 at 4:18 am

Please accept my deepest condolences on your loss. May your dear father rest in peace and may his loved ones be comforted.

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Amethyst Anne October 4, 2017 at 7:58 pm

Thank you for your kind words.

Dad’s age when he passed was 95 and almost 8 months. He never met a stranger. He was difficult sometime, but he was my Dad. He enjoyed a good joke. He made it a policy never to say “Goodbye”, it was always “See yah later”. When my kids, siblings or I would say to him, “See yah later, Dad/Grandpa”, he would smile and ask, “Is that a threat or promise?” He’d laugh when the reply in return was, “You can take that however you want to”. :D.

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lkb October 5, 2017 at 7:05 am

What a beautiful tribute! He sounds like he would have gone along great with my long-deceased father! Again, may they both rest in peace and may you and yours be comforted.

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BagLady October 3, 2017 at 9:46 pm

My experience with deaths has included more “in lieu of flowers” requests than not, because my friends (both deceased persons and their loved ones) are aware of the transitory nature of flowers and would rather have whatever (generic) you would have spent on flowers go to a good cause:

Favorite charity of the deceased (e.g. SPCA, 4-H): Cool.

Charity with some connection to the deceased’s illness or death (e.g., Hospice, Cancer Society, Heart Association): Cool.

Fund to help the survivors (e.g., scholarship fund for the deceased’s children): Cool.

Funeral expense fund: Would depend on the age of the deceased, the expected or unexpectedness of the death, etc.

Pet charity of a survivor that the deceased did not support: No. I would donate on my own to a different charity that I know had meaning to the deceased (either his/her pet charity or something related to his/her illness or death, such as Hospice or Cancer Society).

JMO and YMMV.

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NostalgicGal October 3, 2017 at 10:24 pm

I can agree about funeral flowers being expensive. About five years ago my spouse lost his mother, they were going to have a big family reunion and she had to have some emergency surgery and died from a rare complication. The funeral was going to be on her birthday. We could NOT attend, and I tried to send him… and we did send flowers. I went through the online offerings and bought a BIRTHDAY bouquet (without funky fun stuff on it, it was merely a nice bouquet) for about a third of the price of something similar labeled ‘funeral’. It was commented on about how lovely they were. The floral shop did ask if I was sure, and I explained it was the sad bit of her funeral on her birthday so yes, I wanted the birthday bouquet.

I’d like to know where a cremation is $600 too. My parents prepaid theirs, direct cremation, and it was $3500 each. Plain urn and that was it.

When it would break a family there is nothing wrong with getting some help on it and asking for same. In early teens I had an uncle pass and a lot of the sympathy cards had a dollar or more in them. (Minimum wage was about $2 an hour) The money inclusion was for the family to help them through with anything they needed. They used the donations to buy a very nice headstone.

Donations in lieu of flowers notes are common where I live now, for funerals and usually are something like a care facility, children’s medical center, etc. that could use some help.

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o_gal October 4, 2017 at 6:33 am

When you say “direct” cremation, did that still go through a funeral home? In my area, you can still do a cremation for around $750, but that’s with no funeral home involvement. You can direct a hospital to send the body directly to cremation. You don’t get an urn; instead you get a cardboard box with the cremation remains in a plastic bag that you have to pick up at the crematory. But if you do it through a funeral home, where they do the body pick up and delivery of the remains to you in an urn (that you pick out), it’s closer to $2000.

I go against the grain of other replies – I love, love, love flowers, so I’m hoping my eventual funeral has tons of flowers. I would instruct my loved ones that if anyone asks where they can donate, tell them to donate to charities X, Y, and Z. But not in a “in lieu of” – if people want to send flowers, send them!

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NostalgicGal October 9, 2017 at 7:33 am

It had to be through a funeral home as there are a few relatives that like to spend other’s money and would have gone for massive debt on our behalf if it hadn’t. It was ‘prepaid’. Still all it entailed was that the bodies were picked up, sent straight to cremation, the ashes are in plastic bags sealed with a twisty and have a serious metal tag with a number on it attached. That number is an identification of the deceased. The boxes are black plastic rectangular and flat snap top, nothing fancy. On the front are some portrait oriented recipe card sized labels that list the deceased name, date of death, the ID number on the tag, and the address and contact number of the crematorium. I am in possession of the ashes of both parents right now and in the spring will go to inter them as per their wishes. No funeral. And there was no picking out an urn, but the box was a slight bit fancier than a cardboard one.

The one relative that tried to set up a funeral TWICE and impersonated my mother and myself, so they could be the grieving mourner in the middle of a big fat funeral, when the news went around that my mother passed, called me and the first words they said were “Is there going to be a funeral?” No condolences or anything. They were told in so many words, no. It was arranged for me to acquire both sets (my mother had kept dad’s ashes) without them being able to get ahold of them.

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Rebecca October 3, 2017 at 10:45 pm

Whhaaaa? Never heard of requesting donations to a funeral or to a survivor’s favourite cause. Usually it’s some appropriate charity, such as, if the deceased died of cancer, giving to the cancer society, or if they suffered Alzheimer’s, giving to the Alzhemier’s society, or else just giving to the deceased favourite charity. It’s so that money isn’t “wasted” on flowers and a donation is not even necessary, just if you were thinking of sending flowers, a place to put your money instead.

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Leela October 4, 2017 at 2:18 am

I can see where gofundme would be totally appropriate in some circumstances, particularly today after the Las Vegas tragedy. Most were young healthy people who by all rights should have had years to plan and save for something which struck horribly and without warning.

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Margo October 4, 2017 at 7:31 am

I think suggesting that asking for help with funeral costs is shameful is deeply unkind and a form of victim blaming, and also comes from a position of privilege.

Being able to plan for the costs of ones own death is a luxury . It may not cost very much to buy insurance, but if you are a low earner and struggling financially it is not something you are likely to be able to prioritise over (say) making sure that your rent, utilities and food bills are paid. If you are on a position where putting aside savings for emergencies, or paying life insurance premiums is possible then of course it is reasonable to do so, but not everyone has that luxury (and for insurance policies, you need to be able to make the payments regularly, miss too many because you have unstable income and the policy will lapse.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that you don’t have to comply with any requests made. If you don’t wish to donate to the church fund in memory of your atheist friend, don’t. Make a donation to something you feel he would have supported, in his memory. If you don’t feel that the family needs help to cover the funeral costs , don’t contribute to the gofundme.

I do also think that funerals are different from most other types of funding request in that they involve a situation where you need a relatively large amount of money, at short notice, and in circumstances where you are likely to be under a lot of stress already. If you want a bigger wedding than you can afford, you can choose to wait a year while you save up. You can’t do that with a funeral, and (particularly in the case of a sudden or unexpected death) people are far less likely to shop around or do a lot of research to get the cheaper options.

I don’t have any issue at all with giving mourners a suggestion about charity donations, rather than having lots of flowers to rot. In my experience, people often welcome the chance to do something to mark their sympathy / grief, I think it is actually helpful, and considerate, to give them suggestions to that end.

I think that a family ember substituting a cause of their own, particularly one which the deceased didn’t or would not have supported is problematic, but even there, I would be very slow to assume malice. People don’t think clearly when they are grieving or in shock, the mother or other relation may not have been familiar with exactly which causes their relative did support (or oppose). I think it is unfortunate, but I also think that to describe it as exploitative does put the very worst possible construction on something which may or may not deserve it. I do think that (particularly when talking about situations around a death) it is helpful to be compassionate in forming judgements.

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KEMcL October 4, 2017 at 8:56 am

What started out as a tragedy (Death of a young mother in single car DUI as she fled her abusive wife) turned into the most spiteful funeral I have ever been unfortunate enough to witness. Then again, I haven’t seen more than a few so maybe this one was par for the course?

First of all, the couple had only been married a few months & the deceased had not changed her ID. For some reason the marriage license was in the wreaked car & the car was in the deceased & birth family’s name, so only the family legally had access to it. The marriage license “disappeared” (On a Friday, so no hope of getting a copy till Monday).

This meant that the family’s claim on the body at the morgue took precidence. They stayed with the deceased all weekend, barring the wife’s admission, and doing the nails on the decedent’s relatively unscathed hands & feet.

On Monday the wife was able to obtain a replacement marriage license & claim the body. She refused to allow the family any say in the funeral arrangements, which turned out to be more lavish then one would have expected given financial circumstances.

The obituary was written by the wife and while it DID list the names of the family, it was mostly about wife (Not the deceased).

Part that WAS about the deceased was that she had just changed her mind and WAS going to take her wife’s last name (Rather than file for divorce as she had told her family she was about to do). EVERYTHING the wife set up reflected this name change.

The family was not specifically barred from the viewing (Which was closed casket by necessity) but didn’t attend since it was made clear that they would not be welcome (They counted the morgue as a more valuable win anyways).

Both the family of the deceased & the wife had IMMEDIATELY, within a couple hours of death, set up Go Fund Me sites (Both in lieu of flowers). The sites both said their purpose was to pay for the funeral & provide monies to raise the child.

Ultimately, despite collecting 10s of 1000s, of dollars, neither fund went toward funeral expenses (1 exception described later). The wife told the funeral home (AFTER the funeral) to collect their money from the family. The family refused to pay, saying that they had not signed the contract & had had no say in the arrangements. WHY the funeral home didn’t get the money up front I’ll never know (The cemetery plot was a spare one already owned by the family).

At the chapel service the room had been divided into quietly hostile sides (Glaring & muttering by almost all). The family wore dressy (But largely not black) attire. The wife & her entourage marched in (Seriously, they were in two lines & in step – Did they rehearse?) wearing matching white pants & white t-shirts embellished with pink text commemorating the loving relationship between the deceased & the woman who had put her in the hospital on several occasions. Oh… sorry… I mean “& her grief striken wife.”

Despite asking for donations in lieu of flowers, the family purchased several expensive wreaths & a blanket of flowers to cover the casket. Family friends also purchased some lovely flowers & plants. Unfortunately, all flowers & plants except
the casket blanket disappeared between the chapel & the cemetery. The hearse driver said the wife insisted that her friends transport them in their own vehicles, but the wife denied this

At the graveside there was scuffling for the limited number of seats under the canopy. Ultimately (And surprisingly – I thought they would come to blows in such close proximity), it was decided to divide them evenly. Despite this “fairness” the family highly resented the fact that the decedent’s sister’s husband (A young military officer) had to stand while the wife’s elderly mother (Who used a walker, had an O2 tank & was obese) got to sit.

Throughout all of this there was a powerplay for the child who had been with the family at the time of the mother’s death. The last will of the deceased was old & gave custody to the family, and the wife had not yet adopted the child, so ultimately the child went to the family. This did not stop the wife from repeatedly demanding that the child be handed over.

The family feared the child would be snatched and so precautions were taken, including not taking the child to the chapel service or funeral (The child was on the low end of being old enough to choose whether or not to go, but wasn’t given the option).

In any case, the wife (To date) has never seen the child again. In retaliation (Or grief… Could be grief, right?) the family was told that ALL the deceased’s possessions (Including stuff borrowed from family) AND the child’s possessions, perished in a bonfire.

A little over a year later, the child is doing well in school and extracurriculars and the family finally ended up paying for a headstone (NOT using the wife’s last name). This was the 1 funeral expense that the family paid out of the Go Fund Me proceeds. Tho I guess the flowers could also count too.

Don’t be sad for the grief striken wife having lost the love of her life & child tho… She has been married to the NEW love of her life since about 3 months after the still not paid for funeral of the old love of her life.

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sandisadie October 4, 2017 at 11:17 am

When my Mother passed away a number of years ago she had already purchased a plot and arranged for everything necessary for her funeral many years before that. One of my sisters took charge of the funeral and proceeded to call me and tell me that I had to give her several thousand dollars so that Mom would have a more respectable funeral then was possible with Mom’s arrangements. When I said I would not, my sister didn’t speak to me for more then two years. I firmly believe that when a person arranges for their own funeral their wishes should be complied with. I’ve made it known in the family that I wish to be cremated and I fully expect my wishes to be followed. If you know the family situation then I think it’s good to give a gift of cash to the family, especially if the breadwinner is the deceased.

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KenderJ October 6, 2017 at 6:43 pm

If you want to be cremated, make sure it is written down somewhere legal. My grandmother made it very clear that she wanted to be cremated. She never had it added to her trust believing that telling everyone her wishes was enough. It wasn’t. Because she never added it to her trust, the funeral home could not cremate her without the agreement of all the heirs. My uncle refused to talk to my mother or aunt, so they couldn’t get his agreement to the cremation, so no cremation.

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Noodle October 4, 2017 at 9:53 pm

The deceased may have left a sizable inheritance but that may not have been accessible until after the funeral. From personal experience, a lot of the handing over of the finances and inheritances happens when there is a death certificate and/or probate, and the funeral has already happened before then. When my dad died we had to borrow from my grandfather to basically pay to cremate him (luckily he was a veteran so we interred him in a national cemetery for free). That cremation was four digits by itself. Once the life insurance, etc. started coming in my mom prepaid her arrangements and I am very glad she did because she died unexpectedly two years after that and I would have been up a creek had she not done so.

Still, asking for donations to help pay for the funeral is pretty rude unless it was a result of a tragedy like the most recent one in Vegas.

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NoviceGardener October 5, 2017 at 12:45 pm

I think that the phrase “in lieu of” can have very different meanings depending on the occasion. Invitations to birthday parties that include phrases like: “in lieu of gifts, cash donations are appreciated.” are obviously tacky. A funeral announcement that includes something like “in lieu of flowers, please donate to X, Y or Z charity, supported by Mr. Smith in his lifetime,” is sensible and thoughtful.

In the case of a funeral, assuming the deceased was well-liked, there will be people outside the immediate circle of the deceased person who want to express their grief. Assuming those people aren’t massive drama llamas, their options are limited. You can’t turn up at a funeral and weep louder than the nearest and dearest; you can’t jump up unannounced and deliver an unplanned eulogy. Unsolicited floral donations obviously aren’t nearly as bad as either of those, but they may still be an unexpected note in a carefully planned funeral.

A financial outlay, however small or large, may well be the best option that some people have to express their sorrow and respect. If they can donate to a charity that was beloved by the deceased, that allows them to make a genuine contribution without intruding on specific arrangements.

(I completely agree with Admin that asking for donations for a cause that the dead person had no connection with is not on, and is actually tacky and exploitative.)

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Mabel October 11, 2017 at 5:33 pm

I’ve donated to a funeral gofundme, but it was for a friend’s husband whose brother was murdered. The family did not have the means to pay for an unexpected funeral and resorted to the fundraiser out of desperation. In a case like this, I think it’s excusable.
(FYI–they did arrest the person who did it.)

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Redblues October 12, 2017 at 2:42 am

Some people ask for donations in lieu of flowers, some people simply list a charity, or charities in the obituary and do not mention flowers. One can send flowers, contribute to a charity, or both or neither. In New England where I am from “in lieu of flowers” has really only become more common recently. Most obits still just list the charity and nothing else.
When my parents died my dilemma, if our could call it that, was choosing a charity that was important to them but which I did not hate. Not really a dilemma of course. I would have listed their church as a charity if I could not think of anything else. It was about them, not me. For my father, I listed the VFW, for my mother, the convent to which two of her beloved cousins belonged. I know they would have both been delighted with those choices.

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