Including Money in a Sympathy Card: Etiquette & Tips

Published September 4, 2020
sympathy card with white gladiolus flower

Whether you should put money into a sympathy card is a touchy subject. Many people suggest to not put money into a sympathy card, but there are times when money is just what the family needs during a difficult time. Funerals can be expensive, and depending on the situation, a monetary gift can be the best offering for a grieving family. Learn the proper etiquette for including money in a sympathy card.

Do You Put Money in a Sympathy Card?

Before tucking a financial gift into your sympathy card, consider the family's situation. There are times when money is the best gift you can offer, and there are times it can be frowned upon. Learn when it might be best to offer a financial bereavement gift.

Loss of the Head of Household

If the person who passed away was the primary earner of the family, then their need for financial assistance might be greater. Even with life insurance, claims take time to process. Therefore, help with funeral expenses or to care for minor children can work to lessen the family's burden. Additionally, this money can be helpful for expenses you don't think of like getting new funeral clothing, the repast after the funeral, etc.

Fixed Income

If the spouse of the deceased is on a fixed income, such as social security or disability, having extra cash might be appreciated. Your donation can be helpful for expenses they might not even planned for or realized.

Age of Deceased and Cause of Death

Another consideration for a donation of cash can the age of the deceased. For example, younger individuals might not have life insurance to help cover funeral costs. Additionally, insurance companies may deny benefits for deaths from suicides and overdose. Therefore, a cash donation can be helpful in this time of need.

Asking for Cash Donations

In some cases, family members ask for cash donations in lieu of flowers or gifts to pay for funeral or family expenses. In these instances, you don't have to question whether you should put money in the sympathy card.

Amount of Money in a Sympathy Card

There is no hard and fast rule for how much money you should put into a sympathy card. It is important to consider how much you can afford and the need of the family. You don't want to put financial constraints on your family because of giving.

Consider the Family Situation

Beyond just how much money you can afford, you need to consider the situation of the family and their relationship to you. For example, you might give a close friend or family member more than an acquaintance. Additionally, consider the need of the family. A struggling family because of the loved one's death has a greater need; therefore, you might consider giving them more than you would pay for flowers or a bereavement gift.

What to Write in a Sympathy Card With Money

When giving the gift of money in a sympathy card, it's important to include a heartfelt message for the family.

deepest sympathy card

Respect and Sensitivity

When creating your message in your card with a monetary gift, remember to be respectful and sensitive. It's important to not dedicate the money to a particular purpose like a garden or a charity. Just let the family know they can use the gift to help support them in the way they need the most. Some examples include:

  • I'm so sorry about the passing of your loved one, please accept this gift from my family to yours.

  • Please accept this gift from my family to yours.

  • Please accept this gift from my heart to yours in this time of loss.

Additionally, you might just leave a personalized message telling them how sorry you are for their loss and include a check without mentioning money in the message.

Anonymous Financial Gifts

Another option when creating your sympathy card for your loved one is to consider giving your monetary gift anonymously. Within the card, you can write a heartfelt message and include cash but not sign the card. This can alleviate any embarrassment or financial burden a family might feel.

When to Give Money in a Sympathy Card

Many times, the funeral home will have an area to put cards for the family. Therefore, you can put your card in this box. However, if the need is great, or the family has asked for donations, you can give the cards to the family personally.

When You Shouldn't Put Money in a Sympathy Card

If the family is asking for donations to a specific charity or cause, then you should use the financial gift for those reasons and respect their wishes. Additionally, if the family doesn't have a financial need, then it's best to just give a thoughtful sympathy card and gift such as flowers.

Sympathy Card Etiquette Money

Depending on the family needs, a gift of money can be the most helpful during a time of grieving. However, you need to take many things into consideration before giving money in a sympathy card so as not to upset the family further.

Including Money in a Sympathy Card: Etiquette & Tips