Sympathy Etiquette by Location from the Family’s Home to the Office
If you’re unable to attend a funeral or memorial service, it’s often customary to send a gesture of sympathy to the surviving family’s home. Before sending flowers or gifts check with a family member or close friend to find out if there are any religious or cultural concerns that may affect how you choose to express your sympathy. Traditional gifts to be sent to the home of the bereaved include floral arrangements, blooming plants, and fruit or sympathy gift baskets.
Knowing and understanding the proper funeral etiquette by location helps you better express your sympathy and reach mourning loved ones in their time of need. The below guide is useful when arranging to send flowers or gifts to the bereaved and outlines basic funeral location etiquette dependant on where and when you wish to send your gesture of sympathy.
There is etiquette based on funeral location types such as the funeral home and religious places of worship. You can read more about etiquette for these on our Funeral Service Etiquette by Type of Service Article.
Sympathy Location Type: Family’s Home
Reaching out to a grieving friend or family member long after all planned services have taken place can be just as meaningful as attending a funeral or memorial service. Letting the bereaved know that your sympathy and support for them doesn’t end with the ceremony is an important and thoughtful gesture.
What is Appropriate to Send?: Floral arrangements, memorial trees, potted plants, gourmet baskets
Whom to Send Sympathy Gifts to: Address all cards or packages to the family member with whom you have the closest relationship. If you’ve never met or had contact with any members of the family it’s best to send your gestures to a surviving spouse or the eldest remaining family member. If you’re unsure of whom to send gifts or flowers to, try reaching out to a friend of the family who will most likely point you in the right direction.
When to Send: It’s never too late to send a gesture of sympathy. After hearing of the passing of a loved one it’s always acceptable to send your condolences to the family’s home.
When sending gifts to the family’s home for in remembrance (days, weeks, months, after the service is over), here are some etiquette factors to consider.
Whom to Send To: Address all cards or packages to the family member with whom you have the closest relationship. If you’ve never met or had contact with any members of the family it’s best to send your gestures to a surviving spouse or the eldest remaining family member. If you’re unsure of whom to send gifts or flowers to, try reaching out to a friend of the family who will most likely point you in the right direction.
What to Send: Small floral arrangements, potted plants, memorial trees, stepping
stones, inspirational books
When to Send: Any time after planned services are through is a good time to send tokens of your sympathy. It’s never too late to express you condolences.
Sympathy Location Type: Office
What to Send: a plant or gourmet sympathy basket
When to Send to an Office: Check with a family friend or even a member of the family with whom you have close contact with to see if the bereaved has returned to work. Many people will take time off from work when mourning, especially if they’re an instrumental part of service planning, and you’ll want to be sure they’ll be there to receive your expression of sympathy, especially if you’re sending a plant or perishable food.