There's more to it than what you wear. Certainly the accepted customs of dress and behavior in a funeral have changed over time, but courtesy never goes out of style. Part of expressing compassion involves knowing what personal considerations of the family of the deceased you need to take into account. The other part is being respectful of the emotions of close family members.
Here are a few things expected of you:
Offer an expression of sympathy.
Sometimes we are at a loss for words when encountering something as final as death. Simply saying "I'm sorry for your loss" is usually enough. Be respectful and listen attentively when spoken to, and offer your own words of condolence.
Find out the dress code.
These days almost anything goes, but only when you know it's the right thing. In fact, sometimes the family of the deceased will suggest a dress code ('no black,' 'jeans and boots,' or a specific color in honor of a battle with cancer for example). If you can't learn the wishes of the family, then dress conservatively, and avoid a color or clothing style that might bring unusual attention to yourself.
Give a gift.
It doesn't matter if it is flowers, a donation to a charity, a sympathy card, a food dish taken to the home, or volunteering to help the family at a later date; as always, "it's the thought that counts." Always make sure to provide the family with a signed card, so they know what gift was given, and by whom.
Sign the register book.
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.
Examples of Sympathy Expressions
Clasping hands, an embrace, or a simple statement of condolence can express sympathy and care, such as:
"You have my sympathy."
"It was good to know John."
"John was a fine person and a friend of mine. He will be missed."
"Your mother has my sympathy."
The family member in return may say:
"Thanks for coming."
"John talked about you often."
"I didn't realize so many people cared."
"Come see me when you can."
But, What Shouldn't You Do?
Don't feel that you have to stay.
If you make a visit during calling hours there's no reason your stay has to be a lengthy one.
Don't be afraid to laugh.
Remembering their loved one fondly can mean sharing a funny story or two. Just be mindful of the time and place; if others are sharing, then you may do so too. There is simply no good reason you shouldn't talk about the deceased in a happy, positive tone.
Don't feel you have to view the deceased if there is an open casket.
Act according to what is comfortable to you.
Don't allow your children to be a disturbance.
If you feel they might be, then leave them with a sitter. But, if the deceased meant something to them, it's a good idea to invite them to share in the experience.
Don't leave your cell phone on.
Switch it off before entering the funeral home, or better yet, leave it in the car.
Don't neglect to step into the receiving line.
Simply say how sorry you are for their loss, offer your own name and how you knew the deceased.
We are Here to Help
Perhaps you have special concerns about an upcoming funeral or memorial service? We're here to provide the answers you're looking for. Call us at 660-885-2434.