What to Say, How to Dress, and Who to Bring to a Funeral

By: Sarah Schultz
Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Funerals are usually not events that you attend every day, week, or even month. Due to their infrequency, when the time comes, we often find ourselves overloaded with a bunch of questions. “What do I wear? What do I say? How do I act? Do I bring anything?” Among many others. I am here to offer some tips that will hopefully ease your mind and allow for an otherwise already difficult day to go by just even a tiny bit smoother.


What to wear?

Ah, the never-ending conundrum. In the case of a funeral, you may be quick to think that only black is appropriate attire. While dark color business casual is always a safe choice, particularly if you did not know the deceased very well, it all really comes down to who the person was and what their final wishes were. Perhaps they were into super bright, festive colors and they or their family wants everyone to come in neon orange to brighten the mood. When in doubt, it’s always best to check with the family if you are able to. Unless noted, try to avoid going too casual — flip flops, shorts or anything of the sort would most likely not be appropriate to wear. Always remember that the event isn’t about you so you don’t want to make yourself the center of attention.


What do I say?

Funerals can be an awkward situation if you aren’t an immediate family member. But trust me, you are not alone in not knowing what to say. It’s difficult to know what to say to someone who is in mourning. You certainly don’t want to cause more grief by unintentionally coming off as insensitive and uncaring. Simply saying something along the lines of “I’m sorry for your loss,” or “This must be difficult for you,” expresses that you care and there to support them in their time of need. Sometimes a kind, comforting gesture such a handshake or a hug says everything you need to without you actually saying a word.


Where do I sit?

Generally, the first couple rows of seats are intended for immediate family members. The right side tends to be reserved for family, while the left is intended for friends, acquaintances, or co-workers. Remember to be considerate of others. If you’re very tall, it may be best to stick closer to the back. Don’t take offense if you are asked to moved by the family; it is not the time to focus on yourself. If you’re really unsure of where to sit, you can always ask the Funeral Home staff as they will likely know the families wishes when it comes to seating.


Should I bring my children?

Ultimately, you know your children best. If they are respectful and well behaved, by all means, yes bring them along. Especially if they were close to the deceased. Toddlers and babies should be left with a babysitter, as they are likely not old enough to understand how they should behave at a funeral. They require more attention, distracting not only you, but other people attending the service.


What about gifts?

While not mandatory, gifts are always appreciated. It’s best to stick to small gifts such as flowers, cards or platters of food as these can easily be given to the family without being too much of a distraction. If you are interested in doing something more involved and extravagant, it is best to wait until after the services to set something up privately with the family. It’s also worth noting that some families prefer donations be made to a specific charity in lieu of a gift or flowers. If you’re unsure, either ask the family, check their online obituary, or simply give a call to the funeral home to find out.


Is it okay to use my smartphone?

Although smartphones have become an integral part of our daily lives, it is generally frowned upon to use it while attending a funeral service or visitation. The time is intended to be spent with family and friends. Being glued to your phone can easily be viewed as disrespectful to the deceased and could ruin other people’s time of mourning. Being on silent isn’t enough either as a phone vibrating every two seconds is equally as distracting to others. It’s best to just turn it off before entering.


If you have any further questions, please contact us and we would be more than happy to answer anything that we can.


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