The accepted customs of dress and behavior in a funeral have changed over time, but courtesy never goes out of style.
Firstly it’s important to know what religious, ethnic or personal considerations you need to take into account, and it’s also important to be respectful of the emotions of close family members. Here are some of the things that you should bear in mind:
“I’m sorry for your loss” might be all that’s needed.
Try and find out in case the deceased has specificed a dress code ie ‘no black’. Can’t find out? Then dress conservatively & avoid bright colours. A black suit is good for men. Dress for the weather in case you’re outside!
Some religions expect you to cover your head, for example, at Greek Orthodox or Jewish ceremonies. Ask the funeral director for advice. If you want to wear a hat, that’s fine.
It’s the thought that counts: flowers, a donation to charity etc. Always make sure to provide the family with a signed card, so that they know what gift was given and by whom.
Sign it if there is one! Include not only your name, but your relationship to the deceased: co-worker, gym buddy, or casual acquaintance from the golf club. This helps family place who you are in future.
Do attend the funeral reception if there is one. This may be at the family home, in a private room in a hotel or at the funeral home. It shows your support to the family but don’t feel you have to be there till it finishes.
When it’s all over, always remember to continue to offer support and love to the bereaved. The next few months are a time when grieving friends and relatives could need you most. Let them know that your support did not end with the funeral
If you make a visit to the family there’s no reason your stay has to be a lengthy one.
There is simply no reason why you shouldn’t talk about the deceased in a happy, positive tone. A funny story or two is acceptable….just be mindful of the location.
Act according to what feels comfortable. If you would like to view the deceased, it is only correct to ask the person who is arranging the funeral for permission.
Chief mourners usually sit at the front. Sometimes, if it is possible, the chief mourner or next of kin sit at the end of the pew next to the coffin. In a large church or chapel that is unlikely to be full, it’s better not to sit at the back. The clergy may have difficulty in making themselves heard and the close family may feel isolated at the front.
If you feel they might be, then don’t take them to the funeral. But, if the deceased meant something to them, it’s a good idea to invite them to share in the experience. It’s a good idea to prepare them beforehand so they know what to expect.
Turn then off. Even better leave them in the car. There’s nothing worse than ringing and texting mid service!
The great Vince Lombardi once said, “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. And if you’re late… don’t bother showing up.” Show the basic respect to the occasion by being prompt.
Simply say how sorry you are for their loss, offer up your own name and how you knew the deceased.
The chief mourners will not want to know that you have just done this or that or are going here or there on holiday!
Everyone does, and you can be sure that an apology may be all that’s needed to mend and soothe.