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”In Lieu of Flowers” Wording Ideas and Etiquette

Kelly Roper
Reviewed by Marriage and Family Therapist Gabrielle Applebury
Family receiving guests at a funeral

The common use of "in lieu of flowers" in an obituary is often interpreted as "instead of flowers." However, that's not always what the deceased individual's family has in mind. Understanding the meaning of this phrase and its related etiquette, as well as looking at some alternative wording ideas for memorial requests, can clarify things for everyone.

In Lieu of Flowers Etiquette

"In lieu of flowers" is a phrase often used to encourage other ways of honoring someone who has passed away, but that doesn't mean you can't also send flowers after following the family's request, as suggested by Emily Post. There are also some basic rules of etiquette you should follow depending on how you choose to memorialize your loved one.

Etiquette for Funeral Donation Requests

When you follow a request to make a charitable donation in honor of the deceased individual, the size of your donation should at least equal what you would have spent on an arrangement from a florist. As far as the rest of the etiquette is concerned, be sure to:

  • Notify the charity receiving your gift that the donation is being made "In memory of (deceased individual's name)."
  • Provide the name and address of the deceased's next-of-kin so the charity can send an acknowledgment that a donation was received in their loved one's name.
  • Provide the charity with your own name and address so the family knows where to send a thank you note.

Etiquette for Sending Funeral Flowers and a Donation

If you choose to honor the family's donation request and also send flowers, you should:

  • Follow the etiquette for memorial donations described above.
  • Also note that a donation was made in memory of the deceased individual on the sympathy card that comes with the flowers so the family will know you followed their stated wishes before sending a floral arrangement.
Donation note on a flower card

Alternative Wording Ideas for In Lieu of Flowers

Since the phrase "in lieu of flowers" is so easily misunderstood, you might want to consider using one of the following wording suggestions as an alternative when preparing an obituary. Some of these suggestions encourage those in mourning to send flowers if they wish. Other wordings don't mention flowers at all and leave the decision up to the individual about whether to send them.

Suggesting Memorial Donations to Charity

Requests for charitable donations in lieu of sending flowers are quite common. Use one of the following phrases in the obituary.

  • The family requests those who wish to express sympathy to consider making a donation to their favorite charity in (deceased individual's name) name.
  • The family has requested that remembrances be made in the form of contributions to (designated charity).
  • It was (deceased individual's name) wish that any memorial tributes be made in the form of charitable donations to (designated charity).
  • In remembrance of (deceased individual's name) life, the family asks that any charitable donations be made to (designated charity/your favorite charity.)

Words to Suggest Multiple Memorial Options

A carefully worded phrase can make it clear to everyone that they have multiple options for expressing their sympathies without implying sending flowers wouldn't be appreciated.

  • Flowers and/or memorial contributions to (designated or favorite charity) are equally welcome.
  • Flowers, cards, and memorial contributions to charity are all welcome.
  • All expressions of sympathy, including flowers, honorary donations to a favorite charity, and cards are welcome.
  • Expressions of sympathy may be made in whichever way(s) you wish.

Words Requesting Donations to Assist With Funeral Expenses

Sometimes an obituary includes a request to donate money to help the family pay for the funeral when someone dies suddenly and/or there's no insurance or prepaid funeral plan to cover the expense. One of these phrases can help make that request clear.

  • The family requests memorial tributes be directed to (deceased's name) funeral fund to assist with expenses.
  • If you would like to donate to (deceased's name) funeral fund, you can do so via (designated receiver.)
  • Funeral expense donations are greatly appreciated. Monetary donations can be made through (designated receiver.)

Wording for Other Ways to Pay Tribute

Beyond asking for assistance with funeral expenses, donations in lieu of funeral flowers are sometimes requested to help the deceased's family in some way.

  • Anyone who wishes to honor (deceased's name) is requested to make a contribution to his/her children's college fund via (designated receiver.)
  • A trust has been set up in (recipient's name), and the family respectfully requests that any donations be made to it through (designated bank).

Follow the Family's Wishes

Bottom line, you can't go wrong if you respect the family's wishes as stated in the deceased individual's obituary. If you'd like to send flowers as an additional expression of sympathy, that's okay too. Follow standard etiquette so it's clear you've memorialized your loved one in a way that person's family will appreciate.

”In Lieu of Flowers” Wording Ideas and Etiquette