Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: sparksals on March 20, 2013, 07:30:28 PM

Title: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: sparksals on March 20, 2013, 07:30:28 PM
My husband's coworker's spouse passed away the other day at age 42 of a very rare form of cancer.  He left his wife,  two young adult children and one grandchild.   He worked for the same agency, just different department so everyone knew each other.  The funeral is tomorrow.   We are confused about the family request and I'm hoping people here can help. 

A notice was sent through husband's work that the family requests condolences be sent to the church at which the funeral will be held.   I have never heard of this before. 

We were going to mail a card to the widow, but now we are unsure if we should take it to the funeral instead of mailing.  Do they mean instead of sending flowers to the home,  bring them to the church?  Is this a way to politely ask for financial donations?  Is this a way to request no flowers?

Where I come from, people send cards and flowers to the home of the bereaved.  The flowers come for several days before and after the funeral and cards come for a couple weeks after once the news spreads. The obituary usually states a form of 'in lieu of flowers, please donate to X charity'.   Condolences come in many forms like sending cards, flowers, posting condolences on the obituary guestbook, the funeral home website.. etc.

We live in Minnesota, but we are not from here and don't know if this is a cultural/regional custom.    We don't want to do anything wrong, but we don't understand what exactly their request for condolences means.

Can anyone help?

Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: Sharnita on March 20, 2013, 07:32:23 PM
I'm from Michigan but that wording is abt confusing for me too.  Is there anybody from work you could call and ask?
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: WillyNilly on March 20, 2013, 08:08:48 PM
Huh. I am stumped too. To me it almost makes me wonder if there is a problem with the home somehow - for example I know in NY if you are not declared "in hospice" and you die at home, the police have to come and investigate. Even if its known the deceased had cancer or whatever. Usually its pretty cut & dry, but maybe with a young person and a rare cancer, it would be a bigger investigation and the family wouldn't have access to the home for while. Alternately maybe the house is too upsetting for them to be in (memories, etc).

Otherwise I'd think they meant flowers and donations should be sent to the church, much like a typical "in lieu of flowers, please donate to X charity" request (only since its a church, they are happy to get flowers as well as anything else).

I agree if you can ask someone from the area, or who was close friends with them, or maybe even call the church, that'd be the best way to find out.
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: Library Dragon on March 20, 2013, 08:11:31 PM
In many funeral homes they have special stands that display all the cards that are sent.  They are placed near the flowers. 
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: WillyNilly on March 20, 2013, 08:30:22 PM
In many funeral homes they have special stands that display all the cards that are sent.  They are placed near the flowers.

Maybe its just because I come from a very Catholic area, but I always thought those were specifically for Mass cards, not for regular condolence cards...
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: Library Dragon on March 20, 2013, 08:51:11 PM
NJC (Not For Catholics  ;) )

We only make up 3% of the state's population.  Up from 2.5% 20 years ago!  Yahoo! 

Sorry, I got sidetracked.  I have seen it at funerals for non-Catholics here. 
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: katycoo on March 20, 2013, 09:01:12 PM
I'd call the church for clarification.  I'm sure they won't mind explaining the custom.
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: Figgie on March 20, 2013, 09:07:40 PM
While I've never heard of the family requesting condolences be sent to the church, it is very common in the rural part of Minnesota (where we live), for all flowers to be sent to the church and/or funeral home.  When flowers are ordered, you just tell the florist the date and place.  It is also very typical for people who attend either the wake, funeral or both, to bring a sympathy card with them and deposit them in a basket next to the book you sign with your name and address.

The only time I ever mail sympathy cards is when I am not going to be attending either the wake or the funeral.  As far as a request for money...that is typically evident in the obituary.  If there is no list of charities, no request to donate to the charity of your choice and the family requests no flowers, that is considered to be like a request for monetary donations to help defray the cost of the funeral. 
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: Sharnita on March 20, 2013, 09:19:26 PM
You know, I bet if you called the church office they could tell you.
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: baglady on March 20, 2013, 11:41:42 PM
Could it be that the family wants to keep its address out of the paper? Or the paper itself has a policy of not publishing them? I know many small- to medium-town papers used to routinely include the street address of the deceased in obits, and even the addresses of siblings or grown children if they lived in town. Many of them abandoned that practice because burglars would watch the obits and go rob the home when they knew the occupants would be at the funeral.

In my experience flowers *always* go to the funeral home. Sympathy cards are mailed to the home of the closest survivor, or in some cases, to the survivor the sender was closest to (Example of the latter: If my friend Martha's dad dies, but I never met him or his wife, I'd send the card to Martha, not to her mom.)

It's also my experience that most senders of sympathy cards know, or can easily get, the necessary mailing address. If not, I suppose it would be OK to send cards to "The family of John Doe, in care of Smith Funeral Home." But the general rule around here is, flowers to the funeral home, cards to the family's home, memorial charitable donations directly to the charity (which keeps track and informs the family).

I've never heard of *bringing* a sympathy card to the funeral home. Mass cards, perhaps, but those are actually a gift. A plain old sympathy card isn't necessary if you are delivering your condolences in person.
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: kudeebee on March 21, 2013, 07:24:19 AM
In my experience, flowers are  sent to the funeral home.  Then after the funeral they are delivered to the home or nursing homes or some are left at the church--according to the families wishes.

Cards can go either way, some are sent to the home.  Other people will bring the cards to the visitation or the funeral.  Either way is accepted.

I would guess that the family prefers to not have cards sent to the house.  Perhaps they are not staying at the house.  Maybe they do not have a secure mailbox or it is small and they worry that it won't hold all the cards.  Maybe they want to keep all the cards in one place and then deal with them at a later time.  Maybe they don't think they can handle the reminder of the death with cards arriving in the mail each day.

So, if you are ordering flowers, call the flower shop and they will ask for the information.  If you want to send a card, send it to the church or take it with you to visitation/funeral if you are attending.
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: Luci on March 21, 2013, 07:51:19 AM
I've never seen condolences sent to the church and am wondering if that is a new way of saying donations to the church.

I would call the funeral home. In my experience, the funeral home writes the obituary and sends it to the chosen newspapers. This is in Illinois (all of it!) and northern Indiana.

Also, when ordering flowers, we just tell the florist whose funeral it is for and they know to send the display to the funeral home or the church. If after the fact, we send a plant to the family home. Although we personally only send flowers to close family. Everyone else gets a donation. Because of my own experiences, I much prefer that.
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: Redwing on March 21, 2013, 07:57:17 AM
I wonder if the church has a committee that assists the families in keeping track of who sent what and writing thank you notes.  As I mentioned in the other thread, when my dearest friend suffered a horrible loss, her church had a committe that assisted her in writing thank you notes, etc.  Some churchs I am aware of will really step in to help grieving families deal with the nuts and bolts of wake and funeral planning.
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: oogyda on March 21, 2013, 08:11:38 AM
Does the church provide a luncheon/meal following the service? 

I have experience with a church that actually opens the cards and takes any money (even checks) to put in their "Memorial Fund".  This is the fund that is used to finance meals. 
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: Girlie on March 21, 2013, 02:26:11 PM
My first thought is that the family is trying to discourage unwanted visitors. My family is not very private about a great many things, but I could understand if they thought that maybe having stuff sent to the church would be less of a disruption than having it all sent to their home.

Of course, we'll probably do something if anyone in my immediate family dies, because we have problems with my extended family; ie. they are known to cause problems, and we want to do everything possible to discourage them from coming to our family home. It would not be beneath some of them to just decide to take something as a "memento."
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: Promise on March 21, 2013, 02:59:26 PM
Unless the spouse just doesn't want to deal with cards, I can't imagine that it means what it says. I think the person writing doesn't understand the word.
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: sparksals on March 22, 2013, 04:47:29 PM
While I've never heard of the family requesting condolences be sent to the church, it is very common in the rural part of Minnesota (where we live), for all flowers to be sent to the church and/or funeral home.  When flowers are ordered, you just tell the florist the date and place.  It is also very typical for people who attend either the wake, funeral or both, to bring a sympathy card with them and deposit them in a basket next to the book you sign with your name and address.

The only time I ever mail sympathy cards is when I am not going to be attending either the wake or the funeral.  As far as a request for money...that is typically evident in the obituary.  If there is no list of charities, no request to donate to the charity of your choice and the family requests no flowers, that is considered to be like a request for monetary donations to help defray the cost of the funeral.


This must be what they meant.  I have to ask DH if he saw people dropping cards/flowers etc.  I couldn't go b/c I had surgery last week and I am confined to my Lazyboy for several weeks. 


I asked a few friends before the funeral who have lived here a long time and none of them heard of this custom. 

Maybe it is regional within the region.  lol
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: sparksals on March 22, 2013, 04:49:19 PM
I'm from Michigan but that wording is abt confusing for me too.  Is there anybody from work you could call and ask?


That is a very good idea since the request came through work channels.   LOL   Why didn't we think of that???


Dh has been off work for the last week looking after me post op, so he is kind of out of the loop on the situation.
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: sparksals on March 22, 2013, 04:50:37 PM
Huh. I am stumped too. To me it almost makes me wonder if there is a problem with the home somehow - for example I know in NY if you are not declared "in hospice" and you die at home, the police have to come and investigate. Even if its known the deceased had cancer or whatever. Usually its pretty cut & dry, but maybe with a young person and a rare cancer, it would be a bigger investigation and the family wouldn't have access to the home for while. Alternately maybe the house is too upsetting for them to be in (memories, etc).

Otherwise I'd think they meant flowers and donations should be sent to the church, much like a typical "in lieu of flowers, please donate to X charity" request (only since its a church, they are happy to get flowers as well as anything else).

I agree if you can ask someone from the area, or who was close friends with them, or maybe even call the church, that'd be the best way to find out.


The home might certainly be sad for his wife and kids.  He was sick for a long time, but was sent to hospice a day or two before he died. 
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: sparksals on March 22, 2013, 04:57:53 PM
Could it be that the family wants to keep its address out of the paper? Or the paper itself has a policy of not publishing them? I know many small- to medium-town papers used to routinely include the street address of the deceased in obits, and even the addresses of siblings or grown children if they lived in town. Many of them abandoned that practice because burglars would watch the obits and go rob the home when they knew the occupants would be at the funeral.

In my experience flowers *always* go to the funeral home. Sympathy cards are mailed to the home of the closest survivor, or in some cases, to the survivor the sender was closest to (Example of the latter: If my friend Martha's dad dies, but I never met him or his wife, I'd send the card to Martha, not to her mom.)

It's also my experience that most senders of sympathy cards know, or can easily get, the necessary mailing address. If not, I suppose it would be OK to send cards to "The family of John Doe, in care of Smith Funeral Home." But the general rule around here is, flowers to the funeral home, cards to the family's home, memorial charitable donations directly to the charity (which keeps track and informs the family).

I've never heard of *bringing* a sympathy card to the funeral home. Mass cards, perhaps, but those are actually a gift. A plain old sympathy card isn't necessary if you are delivering your condolences in person.


We live in a major metro and I have never seen addresses published in an obit before, neither here nor in the large city in which I grew up.  People who send flowers or cards, if they are close enough, would know the mailing address. 


Interesting about sending flowers to the funeral home.  When my dad died, flowers started arriving by the dozens at our home.  We got to recognize the driver b/c he was at our house several times per day, it seemed.   Plus, dad didn't have a service, his wishes.   I could see the flowers being sent to the funeral home, but how do people know if that is where a service will be before the obit?  We got tonnes of flowers before the obit, but people were notified by word of mouth.    Wouldn't that be more difficult for the family b/c they would have to take them all home from the funeral home? 


We will  send a card to her home address.  Dh went to the funeral, but only got to speak to her briefly.  She was understandably in quite a bit of despair.  I forgot to ask him if he saw people bringing cards or flowers. 


Interesting the different customs from place to place. 
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: sparksals on March 22, 2013, 05:01:10 PM
In my experience, flowers are  sent to the funeral home.  Then after the funeral they are delivered to the home or nursing homes or some are left at the church--according to the families wishes.

Cards can go either way, some are sent to the home.  Other people will bring the cards to the visitation or the funeral.  Either way is accepted.

I would guess that the family prefers to not have cards sent to the house.  Perhaps they are not staying at the house.  Maybe they do not have a secure mailbox or it is small and they worry that it won't hold all the cards.  Maybe they want to keep all the cards in one place and then deal with them at a later time.  Maybe they don't think they can handle the reminder of the death with cards arriving in the mail each day.

So, if you are ordering flowers, call the flower shop and they will ask for the information.  If you want to send a card, send it to the church or take it with you to visitation/funeral if you are attending.


I can see them preferring not to have them sent to the house, but not sure that word of mouth would spread enough to everyone who wants to send a card, KWIM?    The cards sure arrived quickly when my dad died and they kept coming for about 3 weeks after he died - but they were all mailed to the house.  I can't remember anything being sent to the funeral home, because we used them only for preparing for his cremation... picking casket, urn etc. 
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: sparksals on March 22, 2013, 05:06:23 PM
I've never seen condolences sent to the church and am wondering if that is a new way of saying donations to the church.

I would call the funeral home. In my experience, the funeral home writes the obituary and sends it to the chosen newspapers. This is in Illinois (all of it!) and northern Indiana.

Also, when ordering flowers, we just tell the florist whose funeral it is for and they know to send the display to the funeral home or the church. If after the fact, we send a plant to the family home. Although we personally only send flowers to close family. Everyone else gets a donation. Because of my own experiences, I much prefer that.


I can say I have never heard of that one before!  How do they know what to write?  Is it typical just to have a basic obit with very general information in that area? 


It took us a few days to write Dad's obit.  We would never have allowed the Funeral Home to write it.  They did put a little blurb in the paper that he died... very brief with name, date and formal announcement to follow.  In my experience the family writes the obit and submits it to the funeral home who submits it to the paper. 
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: sparksals on March 22, 2013, 05:09:10 PM
My first thought is that the family is trying to discourage unwanted visitors. My family is not very private about a great many things, but I could understand if they thought that maybe having stuff sent to the church would be less of a disruption than having it all sent to their home.

Of course, we'll probably do something if anyone in my immediate family dies, because we have problems with my extended family; ie. they are known to cause problems, and we want to do everything possible to discourage them from coming to our family home. It would not be beneath some of them to just decide to take something as a "memento."


This could very well be.  One thing we had when my dad died was a constant tide of visitors and phone calls.  Our house was like Grand Central Station and it was getting to the point that the obit was getting put to the wayside.   We had to stay up really late one night to get it done b/c we didn't have time during the day. 


People certainly meant well. 
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: Sharnita on March 22, 2013, 06:18:41 PM
My grandparents obits were in Illinois papers but we wrote them, the funetal home just arranged for publication.
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: kareng57 on March 23, 2013, 12:55:17 AM
I've never seen condolences sent to the church and am wondering if that is a new way of saying donations to the church.

I would call the funeral home. In my experience, the funeral home writes the obituary and sends it to the chosen newspapers. This is in Illinois (all of it!) and northern Indiana.

Also, when ordering flowers, we just tell the florist whose funeral it is for and they know to send the display to the funeral home or the church. If after the fact, we send a plant to the family home. Although we personally only send flowers to close family. Everyone else gets a donation. Because of my own experiences, I much prefer that.


I can say I have never heard of that one before!  How do they know what to write?  Is it typical just to have a basic obit with very general information in that area? 


It took us a few days to write Dad's obit.  We would never have allowed the Funeral Home to write it.  They did put a little blurb in the paper that he died... very brief with name, date and formal announcement to follow.  In my experience the family writes the obit and submits it to the funeral home who submits it to the paper.


It was part of the consultation with the funeral home, IME.  My sons and I wrote it up, and we could have sent it to the newspaper ourselves, or the funeral home could have done it.  It didn't cost any more for the funeral home to do it, we figure that they knew the channels, so we left it with them.

Unlike PPs' experience, we knew that we only wanted a basic service with cremation - and the funeral home did not try in the slightest to upsell us.
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: kudeebee on March 23, 2013, 01:13:04 AM
Usually the funeral home has a form that they use for the obituary--they will ask questions and fill it in, then have you look it over.  If there is something special that the family wants it can be added.  The obits around here are pretty much the same.  Occasionally there will be one that was definitely written by the family as it does not follow the norm.
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: peaches on March 23, 2013, 01:17:18 AM
My grandparents obits were in Illinois papers but we wrote them, the funetal home just arranged for publication.

Exactly.

The advantage to having the funeral home handle this is that they know what the local newspaper allows and doesn't, and the cost per line, etc. They can make helpful suggestions in composing an obit.

Some newspapers have rigid rules about obituaries (content, length). Others will let you write whatever you want, as long as you pay for it.

We were surprised when my father died that his hometown newspaper had strict guidelines for obituaries. They were formal, brief, you could list occupation and education, and next of kin (but not an endless list of survivors). You could not mention everyone who predeceased him, except a spouse. This is a very well-known and respected newspaper, but they keep a tight rein on things.

Where we live, the local newspaper allows very long obits. They make interesting reading, actually.
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: kherbert05 on March 23, 2013, 05:23:00 AM
The first thing that popped into my mind was security. They might have been concerned about food and flowers being delivered to the house signalling to any bad guys that there had been a death in the family.
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: Cami on March 23, 2013, 12:34:07 PM
I've never heard of a church taking care of the cards and helping to write thank you notes. I get that it may be a custom in rural MN, but I think it's a little odd... well, actually a lot odd to the point of extreme discomfort... to have someone I do not know reading a heartfelt note or letter I sent to the bereaved. It feels like an invasion of my privacy.  I also wouldn't want some stranger sending me a thank you note. I don't even get the point of that.  If I knew that was going to happen, I'd probably just send a card with my signature and no note.

I've never seen condolences sent to the church and am wondering if that is a new way of saying donations to the church.

I would call the funeral home. In my experience, the funeral home writes the obituary and sends it to the chosen newspapers. This is in Illinois (all of it!) and northern Indiana.

Also, when ordering flowers, we just tell the florist whose funeral it is for and they know to send the display to the funeral home or the church. If after the fact, we send a plant to the family home. Although we personally only send flowers to close family. Everyone else gets a donation. Because of my own experiences, I much prefer that.


I can say I have never heard of that one before!  How do they know what to write?  Is it typical just to have a basic obit with very general information in that area? 


It took us a few days to write Dad's obit.  We would never have allowed the Funeral Home to write it.  They did put a little blurb in the paper that he died... very brief with name, date and formal announcement to follow.  In my experience the family writes the obit and submits it to the funeral home who submits it to the paper.

My family is from NY and the funeral homes took care of the obits. In each case, we sat down with them and gave them the info. They wrote it and read it back to us. We approved it, they took care of placing it.
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: nrb80 on March 23, 2013, 01:11:43 PM
Isn't your husband law enforcement?  My first thought is that many in law enforcement and several prosecutors that I know are zealous in not letting their address or names of family members become public.
Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: sparksals on March 23, 2013, 02:18:50 PM
Isn't your husband law enforcement?  My first thought is that many in law enforcement and several prosecutors that I know are zealous in not letting their address or names of family members become public.


Yes, he is and you are very right about the zealousness.  The only thing is, no address was published in the newspaper.   


This brings up an interesting point:  How much can a bereaved family expect to not have sentiments delivered to their home?  To me, it is the norm and to be expected.  Many people may not get the memo on their wishes - it wasn't conveyed in the obit, only an email from work. 







Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: sparksals on March 23, 2013, 02:21:06 PM
Usually the funeral home has a form that they use for the obituary--they will ask questions and fill it in, then have you look it over.  If there is something special that the family wants it can be added.  The obits around here are pretty much the same.  Occasionally there will be one that was definitely written by the family as it does not follow the norm.


That explains some things, then.  It sounds like the obits are very standard in that area.  Where I am from, they are very personal, there is no limit to length.  The only thing prohibited is bad language. 


We did not publish our address in the obit for the gathering at our house.  Instead, we put in the obit, "Friends and family please join us at the Sparksals Family Residence". The line of thinking is people who knew us know the address.   Those who knew us but may have forgotten the address had ways to look it up. 



Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: sparksals on March 23, 2013, 02:22:25 PM
The first thing that popped into my mind was security. They might have been concerned about food and flowers being delivered to the house signalling to any bad guys that there had been a death in the family.


This is a valid concern.  Many thieves and criminals scan obits to find who has died to either prey on a lonely widow or try to break into the home during the funeral while they are away.

Title: Re: Regional Funeral Etiquette
Post by: kudeebee on March 24, 2013, 12:08:06 AM
The first thing that popped into my mind was security. They might have been concerned about food and flowers being delivered to the house signalling to any bad guys that there had been a death in the family.


This is a valid concern.  Many thieves and criminals scan obits to find who has died to either prey on a lonely widow or try to break into the home during the funeral while they are away.

Around here many people have someone stay at the house during visitations and the funeral.