Sending a sympathy card after someone has lost a loved one is a lovely gesture. And you may want to go beyond sending a caring note and offer some financial support to grieving friends or family members as well.
But is giving money appropriate in a sympathy card? And if so what’s the etiquette and customary amount?
The quick answer is yes, giving money in a sympathy card is appropriate. However it should be done with sensitivity. It’s usually reserved for people you know well or are close to – long term friends and family members. Giving cash to a colleague or acquaintance could come across as odd and cold.
If you’re interested in learning more as well as advice on thoughtfully and respectfully providing money as a gift along with your words of sympathy the keep reading. I’ll take you through a more in depth look at whether it’s appropriate, the right etiquette around a money gift, how much to give and more.
Is Giving Money in a Sympathy Card Appropriate?
Yes, it is appropriate. But there are some things you should consider first.
While giving money along with a sympathy card may seem like a thoughtful gesture think about the type of relationship you have with the recently bereaved. An envelope of cash from a casual work colleague or distant relative could come across as cold, transactional or an empty condolence.
A gift of money after a loss is best suited to immediate family members and close friends. You can also consider people who you know are having financial difficulties on top of grieving a loss.
When Is Giving Money Appropriate?
If you have an extremely close friendship or family relationship with bereaved then money can be appropriate. Providing some financial assistance to the family or friends of the deceased can really help during a devastating and difficult time.
Those closest to the deceased often shoulder hefty funeral and memorial service costs. These can run to thousands of dollars, a sum most of us would struggle to find.
So even a small contribution towards these expenses can make a big difference.
On top of that when it’s a spouse or the breadwinner in the family who passes away it can leave the relatives dealing with major financial difficulties. So a contribution or gift of money will bring stability when they need it most.
For close friends and relatives beyond immediate family a smaller amount of cash is more appropriate. It can still help with things like paying bills and shows you want to offer your support to get them through this tragic moment.
How Much Money to Give
If you do choose to go with a money gift of support then getting the right and appropriate amount is important.
For distant relatives, work colleagues, neighbors or casual friends then a sympathy card with $20-50 is a thoughtful token that doesn’t seem showy or transactional.
For closer friends or extended family then a gift between $50-100, or more depending on your means, is about right. This shows your willingness to contribute more substantially if helpful.
For spouses, parents, siblings and immediate family members, etiquette dictates at least $100 or more. Close relatives often appreciate contributions of $250 or higher when possible. This will help towards funeral expenses especially.
However any heartfelt amount gives a boost when bereaved families need it most.
Delivering Money Respectfully
When you include money in your sympathy card you’ll want to do it discreetly. Enclose bills or checks inside the card itself rather than as loose items within the envelope.
Avoid gift cards. These can seem disconnected and impersonal when you consider the emotional nature of the gesture you’re making.
And include a personal and compassionate note or message with your card. It should express your condolences, share memories of the deceased if appropriate and offer help or support during the difficult grieving journey ahead. You want the focus to be on the sentiment you’re making rather than the transaction.
Alternatives to Money
Not everyone feels comfortable giving money. And for some of us it simply isn’t possible.
But if that’s the case then it shouldn’t put you off reaching out. Sympathy cards on their own offer real comfort to grieving families and friends. Money isn’t necessary to offer your support and love.
And there are other gestures you can make that are just as touching and thoughtful. Something as simple as bringing home-cooked meals, donating to a loved one’s charity of choice or helping with household tasks and childcare are all going to be greatly appreciate by those mourning.
Or simply being present as a listening ear. Your support is more than an amount of cash. And although that will be beneficial to the grieving family the alternatives all represent compassionate ways to offer your support too.
Losing someone we care for deeply leaves us shaken and forever changed. Simple acts of thoughtfulness go a long way during the mourning process.
So offer support in any heartfelt way you can to suffering friends or family.