At some point in life, you will attend at least one funeral. While death can be considered a taboo subject, it’s a natural part of life. However, when attending a funeral, there are many things to be mindful of. It doesn’t matter whether you are or aren’t close with the recently deceased. It’s essential to be mindful and understanding throughout the process. How you act and what you say can help ease some of the pain they’re going through.
Much like other personal events or get-togethers, it can be difficult to know how to act or behave. To ensure you know what you’re walking into, here are some tips on proper funeral etiquette:
Show Your Support
Show your support before and after the funeral, as sometimes those are when people need it the most. If you’re close to the grieving family, offer your support to them so that they know it’s there. They may need a helping hand or someone to lean on as they make difficult choices, such as choosing an urn, funeral home, or other important decisions.
While you may think that the family needs their personal space, it helps to leave a message or phone call to show them that you care.
Traditionally, black is the colour of choice for most funerals, but what you wear can depend on the type of funeral. Wakes and memorials are considered more casual, while visitation is more formal. However, it’s best to assume that formal attire is the way to dress for any funeral, as it’s a sign of respect. Remember to stick with darker colours, such as black, dark blues, greys, or browns.
Some wardrobe choices can include:
- Collared shirts
- Dress pants
- Dress shoes
Express Your Condolences
Providing the grieving party with words of condolence can be a difficult aspect of attending a funeral. However, your support and kind words can go a long way. The family will have likely gone through a lot the weeks prior. Everything from the death itself to the intensity of choosing a casket or even interpreting the will can be a lot of stress for anyone. Some simple words of sympathy can mean a lot to someone.
What To Say
You don’t need to be a poet, but here are some things to keep in mind when thinking about what to say:
- Don’t Tell Them How To Feel: It’s essential to avoid telling someone who is grieving to stay strong or not to cry. Allow them to feel how they feel.
- Don’t Make It About You: Sometimes people don’t want to hear “I understand how you feel” when they’re likely feeling a lot. In addition, steer clear of using your own experiences to relate to them.
- Keep It General: As we said, you don’t need to craft your condolences in some poetic way. Simply saying, “I’m sorry for your loss” or “I’m here for you” is all some people need to hear when they are mourning.
- Offer Support: People need support in a time of grieving. Offering some help and support can relieve a heavy burden and let the individual know you’re thinking about them.
Offer a Gift
Bringing a gift to a funeral isn’t required or expected, but it might be nice to offer something to the grieving family. Consider flowers or a card if you choose to bring something. If the recently deceased was someone who favoured specific charities, you could make a donation in their name.
While most funeral services will feature food and drinks, it doesn’t hurt to bring something and offer it to the family. Some funeral foods may include pasta dishes, casseroles, or other food items that can be easily reheated. Offering food to the grieving family can help lessen the stress of preparing home-cooked meals while mourning.
Funerals are never an easy experience, but you should always show respect and provide support during these trying times. Remember that while it may be uncomfortable for you, it’s more difficult for those grieving. We hope that by reading these funeral etiquette tips, you’ll be a bit more prepared for the future.