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It is common for friends and family to send sympathy flowers to the immediate family of someone who has passed away, especially to the spouse or partner. However, often times the phrase “in lieu of flowers, please ….” will appear either in the obituary or funeral invitations. For some, this may cause confusion during a delicate time.
What does it mean?
In short, the family is requesting that you do not send sympathy or funeral flowers, but rather partake in the action requested instead.
The most common example is when the family of the deceased requests that you give to a favorite charity of the deceased. For example, if the message says “in lieu of flowers, please give to charity X”, then you should make a donation (usually in the name of the deceased or their family) to the charity named. For some, specific charities or faith organizations will have been an important part of their lives and that friends and family members making a donation will end up being a sizable donation in sum will be a befitting honor to the deceased’s memory and legacy.
Can you Send Flowers and Give to the Charity?
Yes. If you feel that you would still like to send flowers you should do so by all means, however, you should send flowers in addition to the requested action or donation. Never send flowers instead of the requested action or donation. Always make sure that you check with someone in the immediate family that this will be acceptable and that they should be sent to the funeral home directly if you want to contribute flowers to the funeral or the address to send sympathy flowers. To learn more about the difference between funeral flowers and sympathy flowers, please read “Guide to Sending Funeral Flowers: Types and Tips“.
Sending Your Sympathies
If you choose to make a donation or memorial contribution as requested in the alternative phrase, then you should send a sympathy note or card to the family to both express your sympathy with the family and to let them know that you have made a donation in the deceased’s name to the charity. A sympathy note is a thoughtful and great way to let the family know you are thinking about them during this difficult and emotional time. To learn more about the etiquette and what to write in a sympathy note, please read “What to Say in a Sympathy Card“.
At the end of the day, the family is grieving and if you would like to express your sympathy it is best to do so in a manner that they request. If the family has made a request that they prioritize something other than flowers you should follow their wishes as it will most likely be something that was important to the deceased.