Deciding on what to give a grieving family at a funeral is a difficult gift decision; it is a sensitive time that comes with proper funeral etiquette to follow. Religious considerations need to be made, as well as the decision to give a gift in memory of the deceased or a gift to help the family at a difficult time.
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Religious considerations and the family's wishes need to be considered when giving the gift of flowers. Although they are a big part of Catholic funerary services, Jewish, Hindu and Muslim traditions normally do not include flowers, and may be considered inappropriate. Consulting a florist in these matters is recommended. According to Florists' Transworld Delivery (FTD) white lilies are the flower most commonly associated with funerals, as they represent the restored innocence of the departed's soul. Other traditional flowers include carnations, with pink carnations symbolising remembrance, and white carnations symbolising love and innocence. Chrysanthemums are traditional, especially in Europe, Japan and Korea. Roses and gladiolas are also considered appropriate, traditional funeral gifts.
FTD also names non-traditional flowers that are considered appropriate and unique because they convey a message of their own. Xeranthemums symbolise eternity and immortality, cyclamens say goodbye, while forget-me-nots represent love and memories. Choosing the deceased person's favourite flower is appropriate.
Gifts other than flowers are commonly given at funerals, and may include framed photographs and sympathy cards. The Funeral Ideas website suggests planting a memorial tree as a symbol of remembrance. Food is a proper gift to help the family, who are surrounded by guests and cannot cook. Acceptable foods are those that require little preparation or heat-and-eat dishes. Gift cards from local restaurants are suggested, especially if the family is receiving many food gifts. When delivering food, be considerate of the situation, only staying for a brief visit in order to deliver the food and express condolences.
Many grieving families suggest giving donations to the deceased person's charity of choice. Often in the announcements this preference will be stated as, "In Lieu of Flowers." There may be the opportunity to donate during the services, or you can contact the charity yourself. Charities accept funerary donations often, and many will send a card to the grieving family informing that a donation was made by you in the deceased's name. The donation amount will not be revealed.
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