The loss of a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences most of us will ever have to endure. Even when the passing of a loved one has been anticipated, the initial emotion is often one of shock and disbelief. Accepting the finality of death is a difficult concept for our minds to fully embrace and is something that takes time to accept.
This first stage is often followed by the unbearable ache of grief and is part of what are commonly referred to as “the five stages of grief.” There is no set duration for each stage and some question if such clearly-defined stages even exist. What’s important is how we choose to express our sorrow and in the process, how we decide to honor the memory of someone who has died.
Funeral and memorial planning are involved processes that often burden the bereaved during their period of mourning: friends and family of the deceased must be notified of the death, then arrangements for funeral or memorial services must be made. An important part of this process is writing and publishing an obituary. Today, there are several prominent online obituary sites such as Legacy.com that allow for written memorials.
For those attending a funeral and wishing to pay their respects, there are a set of rules which define funeral etiquette. Much like the etiquette surrounding a wedding and reception, the guidelines for proper conduct at a funeral exist to prevent gaffs that inconvenience the bereaved and cause embarrassment. Proper etiquette is part of the respect that should be accorded to the memory of the deceased and towards their loved ones.
Sending flowers to express one’s sympathy is a time-honored tradition: however, it’s important to abide by certain rules of etiquette when sending flowers. Pay careful attention to any directions provided by the family of the deceased regarding flowers. In many instances, flowers are either sent to the funeral home or to the home of the family. Sometimes, religious practice dictates how flowers are to be handled, so it’s important to be aware of these customs ahead of time.
It’s becoming more common for the family of the deceased to request that in lieu of flowers, a contribution be made to a charity such as the American Heart Association, The American Cancer Society or another charity that accepts memorial donations. The family will often specify the charity they wish to direct donations to in the obituary
How do Memorial Donations Work?
It’s important to make distinctions between memorial donations, memorial contributions and memorial funds. Though the terms are often used loosely and interchangeably, a memorial contribution is typically a monetary gift to the family of the bereaved to cover expenses associated with the funeral or memorial service. These contributions however, can be used for other things, such as living expenses. Checks for memorial contributions should be made out to someone in the family rather than to the deceased, funeral home or a bank.
As previously mentioned, memorial donations are contributions made directly to a charity designated by the deceased’s family. Sometimes these charitable contributions are accepted through a fundraiser established by the family or someone close to the deceased. A myHumane.org Memorial Campaign is an example of such a fundraiser.
A memorial fund is a charitable organization in itself established under a 501(c)(3) tax designation. These funds are used for a variety of purposes that range from providing scholarships for deserving students to raising money for medical research such as finding new treatments for certain types of cancers and other diseases. The setup and management of memorial funds is complex and typically requires assistance from a legal team.
Alternative Memorial Donations Ideas
myHumane Memorial Donations
If you don’t have the means and time to establish a memorial fund but you’d like to honor the memory of a loved one in a more meaningful and lasting way than asking mourners to mail checks to a charity, what alternatives exist?
A great alternative memorial donation idea is to create a dedicated Memorial Fundraiser benefitting animals on myHumane.org. It’s a more active and personalized way to honor the memory of a loved one.
First, you can create a dedicated Memorial Campaign page and personalize the page with a photo of your loved one. This is also the perfect place to write a short tribute or biography for the deceased, including a mention of their special connection to animals and their interest in the cause of animal welfare.
Then, you can set a campaign contribution goal for your myHumane.org Memorial Donations campaign. Once your memorial page and donation goal are set, you can letothers know about your myHumane.org Memorial Fundraiser for animals. The myHumane.org platform makes it easy to notify family, friends and colleagues using the integrated social media sharing and email notification features.
People will begin to visit your Memorial Campaign page, learn about how contributions benefit animals across the globe and read your personal tribute to the deceased. Visitors are provided with the added convenience of making memorial donations online in any amount they’re comfortable with. There is also a place where they can leave a brief comment sharing their condolences and memories of the deceased. The Memorial Donations page serves as both an online guest book and a personalized fundraising portal, showing campaign supporters and updates on progress towards your fundraising goal.
Pet Memorial Donations
Losing a beloved pet can be just as emotionally devastating as losing a close friend or a human member of your family. The grieving process is the same as that for the passing of a human loved one, and everyone will handle things in their own way and in their own time. Many people immediately adopt another animal companion to fill the void, while others require a longer grieving period to pass before considering bringing a new animal into their lives.
There are several ways to honor the memory of a departed pet and effectively work through the grieving process. Some examples include placing a memorial stone dedicated to a deceased pet in your garden or planting a tree in their memory. Another popular and lasting way to honor your pet’s memory is in the form of a donation to The Humane Society of the United States, a charity dedicated to the cause of bettering the lives of animals.
The myHumane.org peer-to-peer fundraising platform was established for this purpose. By creating a myHumane.org Memorial Fundraiser dedicated to honoring your pet’s memory, you are not only creating a tangible memorial to them where friends and family can offer condolences and fond memories, but you are also moving beyond your grief and doing something to create real change for animals in dire circumstances around the world.