Others participating in any of the ceremonies surrounding death should also be considered when giving honoraria. It is appropriate to provide honoraria to musicians and service related personnel. Parking attendants and servers often rely on tips to supplement their low wages. As a funeral director, I have often been offered honoraria. Although it is not my practice to accept honoraria, there have been clever families who have found unique ways to express their appreciation. I have received award winning pies, salsas, homemade jams and jellies, my favorite fruit, homemade bath soaps, my favorite perfume, boxed chocolates, lovely jewelry, gift cards to favorite restaurants, movie passes, and many other thoughtful gifts. I have received anonymous thank you cards with cash tucked in them ranging from a couple of hundred dollars to multiple thousands (now that is an honorarium of great appreciation). Nevertheless, I as do most clergy, feel that my salary covers my services.
An acknowledgment is a written expression of appreciation. Although a regular thank you card will suffice, they seem ordinary. The services rendered at the death of a loved one are generally performed out of great love and respect; quite often deep sorrow plays a vital role as well. This type of service is not ordinary and should not be treated as such. The services rendered by pallbearers, ushers, etc. and the flowers sent by family and friends represent their love for the decedent, their love and support for the survivors, and their expressions of sorrow. In the case of such thoughtful acts of love and respect, thoughtful expressions of appreciation are more appropriate than ordinary thank you notes. Beautifully embossed acknowledgment cards printed on archival papers with special inks and foils are available from your funeral home and express the extra appreciation you have in your heart for the kindnesses afforded you during your time of need.
Thank you notes are a wonderful kindness and should not be overlooked. They are held in reserve, however, for less personally acquainted individuals who have gone beyond what was expected through obligation. In other words, if those who are obligated to serve, or hired to serve during funeral ceremonies, go beyond what is usually offered in their capacity, a hand-penned thank you note is a kind and thoughtful gesture. Thank you notes (more so than tips), assist individuals in service related fields realize when they have done something noteworthy. Knowing this helps them to improve their services to future clients. Expressed appreciation always improves performance, self-esteem, and satisfaction in one’s work.
There are many levels of acquaintance, service, and obligation at the passing of loved ones. There are likewise many levels of acknowledgment and honorarium. It is the survivor’s personal choice to appropriately express his or her appreciation to those who served during their loved one’s days of final disposition.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am the owner and Managing Funeral Director at Queen City Funeral Home in Queen City Texas. I am an author, syndicated columnist, and co-founder of Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
For additional encouragement, read other articles or watch video “Grief Briefs,” please go to my website at www.MourningCoffee.com.