Attending funeral services can be one of the most difficult parts of experiencing a loss. For some, knowing what to expect, how to behave, and what to say to others who are grieving can be challenging. This uncertainty can add stress to an already emotional situation. The guidelines below may be helpful to those feeling concern or hesitation as they prepare to attend a service for a friend or loved one.
What to expect at a funeral service
The life of a deceased loved one can be celebrated in a multitude of ways, from traditional viewings and memorial services to creative tributes in memory of a loved one’s interests and hobbies. While each is unique, they share some similarities. Most services include a viewing, or simple time to reflect on the life of the deceased. The family will often display photos and videos for guests to view and share memories. If the obituary of the deceased does not include information regarding times and expectations, reach out to the funeral home where the service has been planned for guidance.
Expressing care and condolences
Many find themselves at a loss for words when considering how to express their sympathies to the deceased’s family. Friends and loved ones may feel anxious at the idea of misspeaking and causing further grief to the family.
Simple, genuine comments can be the most effective, and the easiest to communicate in the moment. Express condolences to the family, and, if time allows, share a memory or a brief example that speaks to how the deceased had a positive impact on your life or the lives of others. Immediate family may not have the time or energy for a long conversation at a service, so a brief, honest show of support and emotion will be most impactful.
Appropriate funeral service attire
Be respectful to the situation when planning what to wear to a funeral service. At times, cultural considerations will play a role: while those in the US may be most familiar with wearing black or other dark clothing to funeral services, at traditional Hindu or Chinese services, for example, mourners typically wear white.
In addition, some families ask that attendees wear bright colors, or the favorite color of the deceased. The funeral home’s website usually offers an obituary that will include any specific clothing requirements or requests. If the obituary does not include attire details, dark or muted colors should be suitable for the service. In the end, the presence and support of friends and family generally matters more than the clothing they wear.
Floral arrangements and other tokens of sympathy
Many attending a funeral service or memorial may wonder if they should bring a condolence card, floral arrangement, or other token of support. Some families ask for donations to a favorite charity or cause in honor of the deceased. In this case, making a donation in lieu of flowers or other gifts serves as a wonderful show of support. However, simply the presence of caring friends and acquaintances at a service can often be the greatest comfort.
Sending condolences from a distance
Sometimes circumstances can prevent those who knew the deceased from attending a funeral service in person, yet these friends and loved ones may still wish to convey their condolences. Ordering a floral arrangement for delivery to the funeral home serves as a thoughtful and appropriate gesture, unless the family specifically states otherwise.
Many funeral homes provide names and contact information for local florists on their websites. As an example, Yurs Funeral Homes partners with local florists such as Paragon Flowers, Swaby Flower Shop, and Town & Country Gardens. With the assistance of the funeral home and the local businesses they work with, selecting an arrangement and setting up the delivery is effortless.
Follow up with the family
The time following a funeral service can be a period of grief that many overlook. In the days immediately after the death of a loved one, the family may be inundated with phone calls, visits, and messages from friends and family. However, once the service concludes, those closest to the deceased must adjust to everyday life without their lost loved one. Some experience the most intense grief during this time, just as calls and visits slow to a stop. Checking in a week or two after funeral services can go a long way in showing support and helping friends and family through such a difficult time.