Mass cards for United Methodists?
April 1, 2016 11:25 AM   Subscribe

My wife's grandfather just passed. I asked for an address where to send a mass card, and she had no idea what I was talking about. I thought this was a common thing to send to the family of the deceased. Some further investigation revealed that mass cards are a strictly Catholic thing, and not all Christian religions use them. My wife's parents attend a United Methodist church, so I figure it is safe to assume that is their religion. So what do United Methodists do for funerals?
posted by tckma to Religion & Philosophy (11 answers total)
A card expressing your condolences, flowers, and/or a donation to some worthy charity that has been designated by the family are all typical things. The funeral home should be able to tell you about the latter two options, and you can send a card directly to the widow or whomever.
posted by Alluring Mouthbreather at 11:36 AM on April 1, 2016 [6 favorites]

Best answer: A personal card expressing your condolences, in which you can mention if you'd like that they'll be in your prayers. Most non-Catholic denominations don't make much distinction between "official" and less-official prayers, so there's no need for an analogous way to indicate that you've arranged for prayers at a Mass.

Also, my understanding is it's a relatively Catholic thing for prayers after someone's death to be for/about the person who died, as opposed to the grieving family. Methodists on average may be less likely to be concerned about what the deceased is going through and more likely to view heaven and hell as metaphorical. So rather than "[Wife's grandfather] will be in my prayers," you'd just say "You will be in my prayers."
posted by cogitron at 11:38 AM on April 1, 2016 [11 favorites]

Best answer: My family sends a condolence card if we can't make the funeral. If we can attend, we bring the card along. Is her grandmother still alive? I think you could still send her (or your mother and father-in-law) a mass card along with a note explaining that you are praying for him at Mass. It is the thought that counts and your card would express the thought.
posted by soelo at 11:39 AM on April 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

(One thought, though - I don't see how it would be remotely offensive or inappropriate to send a Mass card - you don't need to follow the same religious traditions their family does to convey respectful condolences. I'd never heard of Mass cards either, but I don't think the sentiment would be mysterious to anyone receiving one!)
posted by cogitron at 11:41 AM on April 1, 2016 [6 favorites]

If you're attending the memorial service/funeral, you can bring the condolence card with you then and leave it in a basket for the grieving, usually next to a guest book. At least that's what's happened at the last 2 Lutheran and 1 Presbyterian memorials I've attended.
posted by purple_bird at 11:42 AM on April 1, 2016

As others have said, a condolence card, a donation, or flowers at the funeral home.

For a data point, however, my family is Protestant and my grandfather recently passed away. We received several Mass cards from Catholic friends. The gesture was appreciated and not seen in any way as offensive or strange.
posted by incountrysleep at 11:50 AM on April 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

I don't see how it would be remotely offensive or inappropriate to send a Mass card

Some families have old, sheltered, paranoid Southern Baptist grandparents who don't consider Catholics to be Christians, and we had to hide a couple mass cards because my grandmother would have thought someone was trying to un-Save my grandfather posthumously. (Just like those Mormons.) Some people will find a way to take offense at everything under the sun.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:07 PM on April 1, 2016 [14 favorites]

In addition to the things Alluring Mouthbreather noted, here in the Midwest high church Lutheran to Holy Rollers to atheist provide a dish of comfort food if nearby.
posted by ridgerunner at 12:29 PM on April 1, 2016 [5 favorites]

I'm a United Methodist (in the Midwest if that's useful) and a card and a casserole is standard. Flowers good too, or whatever thing the family requested in lieu of flowers.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 1:18 PM on April 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Some families have old, sheltered, paranoid Southern Baptist grandparents who don't consider Catholics to be Christians

And some families have old, sheltered, paranoid WASPs that think Catholics practice voodoo. Sort of. When I (grew up Episcopalian in the south, never knew Catholics till my twenties) married a Catholic guy from Pittsburgh, I learned about mass cards. They would NOT have been welcome at any funeral in my very sheltered family, much in the same way that the northerners buttonholing my mother at the wedding about "where's the GODDAMN WISHING WELL FOR THE CHECKS" wasn't well received.

OP: It's your wife's parents who'd be receiving any condolence wishes from you? Your in-laws? To me, that's sort of... too intimate to be sending ordinary condolence cards as suggested above. You're a part of the grieving family. A card is often for people who aren't in the family. If there's some particular sentiment or memory you want to share with her parents about the grandfather, then a card or a letter to that effect would be lovely. But condolence cards received by grieving families typically trigger thank you cards by the grieving family--and you or your wife might even be one of the people called on to help write those thank you cards. That's why I say you may be too close to even write a condolence card.

Since these are your in-laws, I would possibly go in with other family members (wife's siblings?) send some flowers to wherever the service would be. Or to your in-laws' house, along with a note with special memory of the grandfather. And I would also be offering to do things that would help them take care of logistics and their emotions at this difficult time.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 4:52 PM on April 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I'd work with your wife on this one. She knows her family. What does she suggest is an appropriate way of offering condolences? Go with that.

If you've arranged prayers at Mass because that's something that is important to you and your faith, then that's wonderful and lovely and thoughtful. But if there is any suggestion that the family of the deceased is either not going to understand, or worse, have a problem with that, then you don't need to tell them.

I'll leave this post by sending love and good thoughts to you, your wife, and her family.
posted by finding.perdita at 11:25 PM on April 1, 2016 [6 favorites]

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