Helpful Advice When Attending a Funeral or Service

February 11, 2020

Death is an uncomfortable topic that most people do not like to discuss.  When someone dies, those that are closest to that person deal with unimaginable grief.  They may find it difficult to make it through the day, get out of bed or do routine things.  When someone experiences this type of pain, it’s a long road of grief and they should make sure to surround themselves with the proper support for the road ahead.

In other instances, some may attend a funeral or service as a friend, relative or colleague of those that find themselves dealing with this kind of grief.  When this occurs, there can be an unsettling feeling because we’re not taught how to act or what to say.  There’s a nervousness as we wait in line to speak with the family, and some may say the first thing that comes to mind.

Each tradition and background carries its own protocols and nuances, and one would be wise to familiarize themselves with those specifics leading up to the service.

When attending a funeral or service for someone, consider the following suggestions:

Always Be Ready to Introduce Yourself:

Attending a funeral or service (often several days after death) is very stressful for the family involved.  If you’re not particularly close with the family, always be ready to introduce yourself quickly to alleviate the need for the family to ask you how you knew them.  You can simply say your name and how you know the deceased, and by doing this you can avoid the few seconds of staring at each other as they piece together how they may know you.

Share a Memory:

Prior to attending, take some time to think about a favorite memory or story that involves the person who died and share that with others.  Rather than saying, “I’m so sorry,” you’ll leave those who are grieving with an anecdote about their life they may not have even known.  As the days and months pass for the grieving, it’s these memories they hold tightly and remember.

Offer to Reach Out:

It’s a natural thing to say, “reach out if you need anything,” or “I’m here if you need me.”  The truth is that when someone is grieving, the last thing they need is another thing to do or remember.  Rather than asking them to do something, offer to reach out with a phone call or a text a few weeks later (and then follow-through with this offer).  You’ll open the door to be there for them if they need anything and show them support.

More than anything, those who are grieving need the support and love from those that care the most.  It’s not about what’s said.  Picking up the phone and showing up to the services shows compassion and those that are grieving need that the most.