DEAR MISS MANNERS: I received a letter from a friend soliciting donations for a co-worker of hers whose stepmother had died. There was nothing in the letter indicating what the money was needed for, or if it would go to a charity -- only a reference to a funding website created by the family of the deceased. As far as I know, the family is not needy, and all the children are grown and supporting themselves.
I know families solicit donations for charity in memory of the deceased or to help out if the deceased had dependents, but I’ve never heard of a situation like this. Am I just clueless or is this a typical request?
GENTLE READER: Unfortunately, many people now think of friendship as a pay-as-they-go proposition. Every step of life -- birth, birthdays, graduations, engagement, marriage and the birth cycle again -- seems to require a payment. Not a thoughtful, symbolic present chosen to please that specific person, mind you, but a simple payment.
And yes, Miss Manners regrets to say that many have added death as a fundraising opportunity. It began with the reasonable notion of avoiding a surfeit of flowers by suggesting a charitable donation to a cause connected with the deceased’s interests or illness. To this was added the kindness of collecting money in cases where the bereavement was a severe financial blow.
But now it seems to be turning into an automatic assumption that the bereaved need to be paid. Miss Manners would think that solvent people would be offended at the idea that money is some sort of compensation for a death.