Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Reader Asks: "What Do We Say?"- Bereavement Etiquette

Dear Lily,
A friend of my husband's family passed away a few weeks ago and since we couldn't attend the funeral which was out of town, we decided to send flowers to the funeral home. I usually take care of this sort of thing but my husband offered to do it and I figured it would be one less thing to add to my list of things to do that day. When we received an email confirmation that the flowers had been delivered, I noticed my husband had the florist write 'with our deepest sympathies' on the card. I mentioned to him that I thought the proper way to address the note card was with 'In Memory'. He disagrees with me and it has become a topic for debate in our  house. Can you help us out here, what is the right way to sign the card?


Dear Jenn,
Firstly, I am sorry to hear of the loss of your family friend. Death and grieving has and always will be such a delicate subject in which at the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is that you have lost someone. I am positive that your friends were touched by your thoughtfulness regardless of how your attached card was worded.
With that said, I am never in need of too much prodding to declare 'The lady is correct!' and in this instance you are definitely right. The flowers that you send to a funeral home are sent as a tribute or 'in memory' of the deceased, not for the mourning family. These flowers are usually taken to the cemetery with the deceased and left there. If you choose to not send flowers to the funeral parlour and would rather send an arrangement to the grieving family at home, that is where the term with 'our deepest sympathies' would be used since you are sending your condolences and kind thoughts to the deceased's loved ones.

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Beth Dunn said...

I'm very glad to know that. I never know what to say when something so sad happens

Sandy at Ooh La Frou Frou said...

Etiquette rules ... very tricky sometimes! Thanks for the info! xo

Metropolitan Mum said...

I am a bit of a stumbler, too, when it comes to telling people how sorry I am for their loss. Of course, there is etiquette, but on the other hand there just aren't the right words.

The Widow said...

Hmmmm ... I think you could argue either point here. The card does go to the bereaved family. I kept all of the notes with flowers sent to my husband's and my mother's memorial services. Looking back, I can't remember which flowers came to the house and which came to the service.