We honor the deceased by making donations in their memory. Many obituaries designate a charity or fund selected by the family, but what if the organization is one you’d prefer not to support or worse, in conflict with your values? Do you donate anyway or ignore the family’s request, making a donation to a charity or cause you support? And what if there is no indication of where to donate? How do you choose something appropriate?

Ask yourself, "Why am I making the donation?" Is it to both honor the deceased and bring comfort to their family? If so, then make a donation to the designated organization. If it’s an organization you would not normally support, you can give the minimal donation. If you want to ensure that a specific individual is notified of the donation, indicate who the donation is for and who you want the acknowledgment sent to, providing that person’s address. Otherwise, you risk that another family member who doesn’t know you might be notified of the donation.

If you do not know the bereaved family and would like to honor the deceased by supporting a cause you find meaningful, I believe it is fine to make your own choice. You are the one that will find comfort knowing your donation in the deceased’s memory will make a difference.

When no one has indicated where to make a donation, then the choice is up to you. Did the deceased have a passion for nature, the environment, the arts, or humanity? If you’re uncertain, it’s often most appropriate to honor someone’s memory through a donation that helps someone in need. Many people find comfort knowing that those less fortunate will benefit so think in terms of food banks, the homeless, or other helping organizations.

Whatever you choose to do, honoring the deceased by helping others is a caring thing to do.


Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in three individual volumes: "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage." Additional titles are available as e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle StoreClick here to order.

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