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Bereavement Money - How Much to Give for a Funeral (Updated 2024)

bereavement money how much to give for a funeral

In Singapore, giving bereavement money, known as "pek kim," is a heartfelt gesture rooted in Chinese traditions. This act provides financial support and conveys deep respect and sympathy during a challenging time. Understanding how much to give and the proper etiquette can be complex in Singapore's multicultural context. This article offers clear guidelines on bereavement money, helping you navigate this tradition with sensitivity and cultural awareness.

Table of Contents

  1. Understanding Bereavement Money

  2. Special Considerations for Multicultural Singapore

  3. How Much to Give

  4. Modern Trends in Giving Bereavement Money

  5. Conclusion

  6. Frequently Asked Questions About Giving Bereavement Money

Side Note

Celebrate the life of your loved one at the funeral with a Funeral Live Band.


Understanding Bereavement Money

Bereavement money, also known as condolence money or "pek kim" in Hokkien, is a traditional practice deeply ingrained in many Asian cultures, including Singapore. This financial offering is given to the family of the deceased as a gesture of sympathy and support during their time of loss. It helps cover funeral expenses and alleviates some of the financial burdens of funeral arrangements.

In Singapore, where multiple ethnic communities coexist, the practice is observed mainly within the Chinese community. The amount and manner of giving can vary significantly based on the relationship between the giver and the deceased.

Beyond financial aid, bereavement money shows respect for the deceased and their family and fosters communal mourning.

Traditionally, bereavement money is placed in a plain white envelope. The giver's name is usually written on the envelope to allow the family to acknowledge and thank them. Recently, with digital transactions, some people give bereavement money electronically, though the traditional method remains common.

Understanding the cultural significance and proper etiquette of bereavement money is crucial. This ensures the gesture is made with respect and sensitivity, honouring the deceased and their family's traditions.


Special Considerations for Multicultural Singapore

Bereavement Money multicultural singapore

Funeral customs vary widely in a multicultural nation like Singapore. For Chinese funerals, it is customary to bring a white envelope with a monetary donation. However, monetary gifts are uncommon in Malay and Muslim funerals; instead, offering help or sending food to the bereaved family is more appreciated. Indian and Hindu funerals may accept flowers, but monetary gifts are also generally not expected. Christian funerals often involve sending or bringing flowers; a sympathy card or small monetary gift is also appropriate.

Regardless of specific customs, the overarching principle in Singaporean funerals is to show respect and sympathy for the bereaved family. If you’re unsure about any particular customs or preferences, it’s advisable to ask a close friend or family member of the deceased, ensuring your gesture is appropriate and respectful.


How Much to Give

bereavement money how much to give

Determining the appropriate amount of bereavement money to give can be challenging. Here are some general guidelines to help you decide how much to give, considering your relationship with the deceased, the family's financial status, and expectations.

General Guidelines

  • Close Family Members and Friends: If you are a close family member or a very good friend of the deceased, it is customary to give a little more. This usually ranges from S$50 to S$300, depending on your financial capability and how close you were to the deceased.

  • Acquaintances and Colleagues: A smaller amount is generally acceptable for acquaintances, colleagues, or distant relatives. The range typically falls between S$30 and S$100. This shows respect and sympathy without overstepping boundaries.

Specific Considerations

  • Financial Status: Consider your financial status and that of the deceased’s family. It’s important to give an amount you can comfortably afford without feeling burdened. The gesture matters more than the sum.

  • The setting of the Funeral: The setting of the funeral can also influence the amount. For more formal or grand funerals, slightly higher amounts might be appropriate. Conversely, modest sums are suitable for smaller, intimate gatherings.

  • Avoiding Inappropriate Amounts: Avoid giving amounts that include the number "4," as it is considered unlucky due to its association with death in Chinese culture. Additionally, opt for an amount that starts with an odd number, as even numbers are usually associated with an auspicious event or object. Funerals or wakes aren’t auspicious events. Amounts like $30, $50, $70, etc., are good as they begin with an odd number.

  • Presentation and Timing: Always present the money respectfully, usually in a white envelope. Ensure it is given discreetly during the wake or funeral service. Do not use a red packet.

These guidelines are flexible and should be adjusted based on individual circumstances. The most important aspect is the sincerity behind the gesture, showing your support and respect for the grieving family.

By following these recommendations, you can navigate the practice of giving bereavement money in Singapore with confidence and sensitivity, ensuring that your contribution is appropriate and appreciated.


Modern Trends in Giving Bereavement Money

Bereavement Money

As Singapore evolves with technology and changing social norms, so too do the traditions surrounding bereavement money. While the core practice of offering financial support to grieving families remains, modern trends are reshaping how this support is given.

Digital Payments

Digital payments have become increasingly popular in Singapore in recent years, even for traditional practices like giving bereavement money. Mobile payment platforms like PayNow, PayLah!, and bank transfers are now commonly used, especially among younger generations. This shift offers several benefits:

  • Convenience: Digital payments can be made from anywhere, eliminating the need to carry cash or physically attend the funeral.

  • Discretion: Sending money digitally can be more discreet, respecting the occasion's solemnity.

  • Record Keeping: Digital transactions provide a record, which can be helpful for both the giver and the recipient.

However, it’s essential to check with the family if they are comfortable with receiving digital payments. Some families may still prefer the traditional method of receiving money in an envelope.

Changing Amounts

The amount of bereavement money given has also changed, influenced by the evolving economic landscape and societal norms. While traditional amounts still hold, there is a growing understanding that the sincerity of the gesture is more important than the sum. This is particularly true among younger Singaporeans. For example, the practice of giving amounts that begin with an odd number isn't strictly adhered to by millennials and later generations.

Cultural Adaptations

As Singapore becomes more multicultural, customs and practices blend. It’s not uncommon to see elements from different traditions incorporated into funeral rites, including the giving of bereavement money. While bereavement money isn't expected in non-Chinese wakes and funerals, it's not entirely unheard of.



Bereavement money, or "pek kim," is a tradition in Singapore deeply rooted in Chinese cultural practices. Understanding proper etiquette and guidelines is essential to support a grieving family or express sympathy.

The amount you give should reflect your relationship with the deceased and your financial capacity. Close family members and friends typically give more, while acquaintances and colleagues give smaller amounts. Present the money respectfully, traditionally in a white envelope, and consider digital payments if accepted by the family.

As societal trends evolve, incorporating modern practices like digital payments can make this tradition more convenient while maintaining its essence. By staying informed and respectful, you ensure that your gesture is appreciated and meaningful.

Ultimately, giving bereavement money is about showing care and compassion to those who are grieving. By following the guidelines and understanding cultural nuances, you can honour the deceased and support their family during a difficult time.


Frequently Asked Questions About Giving Bereavement Money

1. Is there a minimum amount I should give?

There is no strict minimum amount, but consider your relationship with the deceased and your financial capability:

  • Acquaintances or Colleagues: S$10 to S$30

  • Close Friends and Family Members: S$50 to S$300

2. How should the money be presented?

Bereavement money is traditionally placed in a white envelope, symbolizing mourning and respect:

  • Write your name on the envelope to allow the family to acknowledge your contribution.

  • Digital Payments: Confirm with the family if they accept this method and ensure the transaction is done discreetly.

3. When should I give bereavement money?

Bereavement money is usually given during the wake or funeral service. If you cannot attend:

  • Send it through a mutual friend or use digital payment methods.

  • Communicate with the family about your contribution.

4. What are the dos and don’ts of giving bereavement money?

  • Do:

    • Give an amount reflecting your relationship with the deceased.

    • Present the money respectfully, using a white envelope or a digital method.

    • Offer condolences in person or through a message if you cannot attend.

  • Don’t:

    • Give amounts with the number “4” (considered unlucky in Chinese culture).

    • Discuss the amount you are giving with others at the funeral.

    • Use brightly coloured envelopes (inappropriate for mourning).

5. Can I give other forms of support besides money?

Yes, besides bereavement money, you can:

  • Provide food

  • Help with funeral arrangements

  • Offer emotional support by being there for the grieving family

6. What if I am unsure about the amount to give?

If uncertain about the appropriate amount:

  • Ask close friends or relatives of the deceased for guidance.

  • Cultural norms vary, so seeking advice ensures you navigate the situation respectfully.

Following these guidelines ensures your gesture is appropriate and appreciated, reflecting both respect and sympathy for the bereaved family.

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