Going to a funeral can be a daunting experience, so we’ve put together some helpful tips to guide you through the day
The day before
It’s a good idea to get your outfit ready the day before so you’re not scrambling around in your wardrobe at the last minute. It also means you can check that your clothes are fit to wear – there’s nothing worse than having an outfit in mind then discovering it’s got a stain on it. You could also check for missing buttons, loose threads or a hanging hemline and that your shoes are clean and polished. These are all little things but looking presentable is a mark of respect.
Choosing your outfit
There are no hard-and-fast rules about what to wear at a funeral. If the family haven’t specified a dress code – perhaps to not wear black or to come dressed in something bright – then aim for a smart outfit in a dark colour such as grey, burgundy or navy. In the summer months, choose light, cool fabrics and ensure that if you’ll be removing a jacket or cardigan what you’re wearing underneath is appropriate.
What to take with you
It’s useful to check the weather forecast before going so that if rain is forecast you can take an umbrella. Remember that you might be spending quite a bit of time outside, particularly if it’s a burial. You might also want to take a spare umbrella so you can offer one to another mourner who has forgotten theirs. Other useful items are a packet of tissues and some throat sweets or mints. Even if you don’t use them, being able to offer them to someone else is a kind gesture that will be much appreciated.
Being phone aware
It can be easy to forget about turning off your mobile phone until it’s too late and it’s ringing mid-service or when you’re in the middle of talking to the deceased’s family. When you arrive, before getting out of the car turn off your phone and keep it switched off until you’re back in the car again to go home.
Leave plenty of time for your journey to the funeral to allow for traffic or getting lost. If you do arrive late then quietly take a seat at the back. You should also sit at the back if you need to leave early so your departure doesn’t distract from the service.
Taking your seat
Priority seats in the first couple of rows should always go to the deceased’s family but other than this there’s no specific seating plan to follow. Where you sit may depend on the size of the venue and how many people are attending. If there are empty seats towards the front you may want to sit there to fill the gap and help create an atmosphere of togetherness. When a venue is quickly filling up, you might want to stand at the side or back of the room to leave seats vacant for others. And of course it’s always polite to offer a seat to another mourner if they look more in need of one than you do.
Speaking to the family
It can feel daunting introducing yourself to the family of the deceased but do make the effort – this is not a day when they’ll feel strong enough to make the introductions themselves. A short explanation of how you knew the deceased followed by your condolences will be enough, but do stay and chat longer if you feel they want you to.
Talking with guests
Kind words go a long way at a funeral, so you might want to introduce yourself to other guests and talk to them about how important the deceased was to you. Again, start with a brief introduction of who you are and how you knew them. Remember that although this is a sad occasion it’s wonderful to be able to unite with others who can share their happy memories of the deceased.
* For help and support planning any aspect of a funeral, please contact us on 01438 316623.