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Not too sure how to ask - charitable donation in lieu of gift/whatever you call it?

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Hey all, I have a bit of a situation that I don't know how to handle - looking for someone who knows the ettiquette here?

My ex-step brother passed away last night from a drug overdose. As we are informing family (all extended) of the news, and all 5 people I have contacted so far have said they want to give money, for the funeral, for me, whatever (a bit of background, for a while I lived with him and he loaned me a bit of money a while back, so I guess some of his relatives think I was dependant on him).

The thing is, his mother has insurance that will cover the funeral, I am a student but am ok for money, and if his mother gets an influx of donations, they will end up in her veins - not helpful for anyone. So I was thinking that if people really want to make some kind of contribution in his memory, it would be great if they could donate to a teen shelter downtown that my step brother volunteered at (I know it seems weird that a drug addict volunteered, but he had a really great heart - he wanted to prevent others from making the mistakes he did).

Sorry just realized how much I rambled/didn't make that much sense. Ha I guess thats how  it goes when you get 2 hours sleep. But the question is basically how should I go about asking for this? or is it simply innapropriate?

12 Replies (last)

Deepest sympathy out for you and your family.

If you are the one responsible for making the arrangmements, it is perfectly appropriate to designate a charity for contributions. If you aren't, you could bring it up with the person who is.

Excellent way to honor your brother, ex or not. 

your not rambling. sorry about the loss of your bro. 

i think usually they print something at the bottom of the obituary, you might look at a few in the paper and see how they word it. "donations in memory of x can be sent to y or z." something like that. the staff of whatever funeral home your using should also be able to help you as well.

and you'll probably want to talk to the admin at the shelter and figure out how they would like things to proceed. 

take good care of yourself. grief is a big deal. we get to take time to have it. 

"In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to xxxx" if you are writing it.

That way you aren't suggesting that they'd bring a gift, just flowers. People will know to do it in your brother's name, I think.

If it's an issue of actually talking to people, simply say that the family had hoped people would donate to the shelter instead, to help prevent future tragedies. If they just bring money, you can make the donation yourself - they don't control how you use the money.

I'm so sorry for your loss.

Thanks... I am responsible for the arrangements, and I didn't even think of an obituary. Wow am I ever on the ball. So I guess I just write it and submit it? And I suppose the local paper is the best bet... ok. And I haven't contacted the funeral home yet, I guess they might (?) be able to help spread the word?

Sorry again, I just have never done this before and frankly have extremely little experience with funerals. Someone needs to write a how-to guide.

I've never had to do this either, but my guess is that if you contact the funeral home, they will have a good idea how to proceed.

The funeral home will be able to help you with the obit, the donation designation and the rest of the arrangements. They even include stamped 'thank you' notices, if you wish.

It's good to have all the insurance info ready, if you can, when you go, as well as any poetry or writings you wish to have included in the program. They'll talk you through the entire thing - just be mindful of some extra expenses that can add up.

I declined the limo, for instance, and went with a fairly inexpensive casket (we had a traditional burial).

One thing they offered, which I took advantage of, was a lifetime web page at their memorial site. It was about 400.00 (one-time) and a wonderful way to share elements of the memorial service with distant friends and relatives.

the funeral home will also make all arrangements for securing death certs, etc for filing the insurance claim. Generally they are paid directly from the insurance company.

They are definitely your first stop, honey.

Hang in there and just take it one step at a time.

and, just a heads up, grief is alot of work all on its own, so do take good care of yourself. 

its common for people to feel like they aren't as present in the world for a little bit, after losing someone close, regardless of how we felt about them, something about grief tends to pull people inward, and its typical to find oneself confused about where you put your keys, what your usual routine is, etc. its like a part of the self disappears inward for a little while and there is less left for cognitive tasks. so if you find yourself in such a place, its ok. go with it. i think this is part of why they always bring food to the widow/family after a death. not only is it kind, but she's probably not going to be very effective in the kitchen for a while anyway. . . . unless cooking is your total adaptive strategy, anyway, i think im saying all this just to say, take good care of yourself. grief can be really intense work and its unfair to expect yourself to do everything you usually do for a while. drink lots of water. let yourself have your emotions, etc. get enough sleep. let yourself have whatever feelings come. all of its "normal", i promise! just my two cents. 

do you have a friend that can stand by your as you navigate all this? someone to help you think about things and remind you to follow up on stuff etc? or another relative who is stable and available? its helpful to have a team and not have to do it all alone. its alot to carry, making the arrangements for your brother. 


Very true bubbles. You are numb at first - which helps get you through technical apsects of the process. Agree that another responsible person would help.

First of all, I'm very sorry to hear about your brother.  He may have been an ex, but it sounds like he was still very much a brother to you, kind of like I am with my ex-brother-in-law.  Anyway, it's perfectly appropriate to state something in the announcement the donations to a particulary charity are requested in lieu of flowers.  We did that with my mother-in-law.  She had Crohns so we asked for donations to the Crohns and Colitis Foundation.  I told hubby that I'd like him to request donations to the Humane Society if I go first.

Sorry for your loss...and you're right - it would be helpful to have a checklist to help you thru!

In addition to the other suggestions, I also recommend getting many copies of the death certificate (say 8-10, and I believe the funeral home can again assist). Its not uncommon for various places to require a copy to close accounts/services or initiate various financial requirements.

thanks all... I went to the home, and yes they were very helpful. unfortunately there is no one else who can/will handle this, but I'm doing ok I think. hopefully nothing gets messed up. They are also setting up the donations, so all i have to  worry about is the funeral. i think it will all be ok

12 Replies