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Man and Woman at FuneralNo one likes to go to funerals, but it's something that each of us will face at some point. One of the first things most people worry about is what to wear. No, you don't have to wear black. Navy blue, gray, or another dark color is appropriate. Color accents are acceptable, but don't go overboard. Think conservatively. You should not wear anything that is bright or that is overly revealing unless the family has asked people to dress colorfully.

Send condolences by regular mail. Email, text and social media are not appropriate when sending sympathy to the family. To be truly proper, you should write out a note by hand on special stationery, but many people do use a sympathy card to help have the right words. Make sure to use your return address and write legibly.

What You Should Do at a Funeral

  • Simply say, "I'm sorry for your loss" or something to that effect.
  • Listen to the family members when you do speak to them.
  • Give a gift. Again, follow the family's wishes. Send flowers or give to a charity that the deceased supported. You could also give a monetary donation to the family to help them through a difficult time. When you do give something, provide your address so that the family can easily know who gave what and where to send the thank you note.
  • Sign the register book legibly. Include your city and state.
  • If you're close to the family, stay in touch following the funeral. Ask how you can help, as many people are often hesitant about asking for assistance. Be available. Sometimes, all that's needed is a friend to be present during the tough days.
  • Sit quietly through the service unless you start to cough or have to deal with a restless child.
  • Be on time for the service. If you are late, wait for the family and anyone in the processional to sit down before entering the venue.
  • Leave the first two rows for family members. Generally, these sections will be marked reserved in some fashion. Conversely, don't isolate the family by sitting too far back.

What You Shouldn't Do at a Funeral

  • Don't leave your cell phone turned on. The best thing you can do is leave your phone in the car, but at the very least, switch it to silent before the service.
  • Don't feel obligated to view the deceased if there is an open casket. If you're uncomfortable doing so, it's okay.
  • Don't let your children create a disturbance during the service. You may even choose to leave your children at home. However, if your child was close to the deceased, it might be beneficial for grieving to let him or her attend. Explain the service before you attend and promise to answer questions afterward.
  • Don't be afraid to laugh or cry. Someone might share a funny memory, and it's okay to talk about the deceased in a happy tone.
  • Don't feel like you have to stay until everyone leaves. Obviously, you shouldn't get up and leave before the service is finished. However, you don't have to be the last to leave, either.
  • Don't skip going through the receiving line. No, it's not easy, especially if you didn't know the family. Just introduce yourself and give condolences. You might tell them how you knew the deceased, if there's time.
  • Don't feel as if you must introduce yourself to everyone around you.

Typically, following the service, a recessional will end the service. The officiant leads the pallbearers, if the coffin is present. Then, the members of the family will follow. Most places will have ushers who help guide attendees, but if not, just respectfully wait until the family has left the service. On your way out, a family member or members will be waiting to thank those people who attended.

Category: Funeral Loss

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