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El amor es lo mejor. When you lose someone you love, your first instinct is to make sure their family has the help and support they need. But a funeral isn’t something we usually experience often, and it can be difficult to know what the right thing to say or do is. This is a completely normal way to feel.
A funeral is a time to remember your loved one and grieve as one with your community. It isn’t a time to feel stressed or confused about what you should or should not do. We are here to offer you guidance on proper funeral etiquette so you can feel prepared to be there for your friends and family during this time.
One of the most difficult parts of attending a funeral and dealing with loss is knowing what to say to the family. It can feel like nothing you say will make this any easier for them. It’s important to remember that no one expects you or anyone else to make it better, and what is most valuable during this time is reassurance and love.
Often, the most appropriate thing to say to your loved one’s family is a simple, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” If you can, you can suggest ways to help, like, “Can I pick up groceries for you? Do you need me to watch your kids?”
It’s important to remember that everyone grieves differently, and you should respect the deceased’s family by not minimizing their loss, or suggesting that their loss was inevitable, or fortunate. For example, “It’s for the best because she’s not suffering anymore,” might not be comforting for the family because they are experiencing profound loss, and they miss their loved one terribly.
You should also avoid talking about the cause of death, or suggesting that the family will “get over” their loved one’s death with time. Also avoid centering yourself by talking about your own grief. The family is going through enough without also feeling that they have to comfort you, too.
Although funeral traditions are changing, it is still standard to wear black or other subdued, neutral colors to a funeral service. Black, grays, tans, browns, and dark blues and greens are all appropriate colors to wear to a funeral.
If you are unsure about what to wear, reach out to whoever invited you to the funeral and ask what they will be wearing. Try to do this well in advance of the funeral services so that you have enough time to plan your outfit.
Offering food is a very helpful way to minimize the work the family has to do during this time. Keep in mind any dietary restrictions the family might have, and if they have children. It’s best to come up with simple recipes that every member of the family can eat.
Flowers are a common and beautiful way to honor your loved one. You can bring flowers to the funeral services, or send flowers to the family’s home. However, you should always include the vase, so the family doesn’t have to find one themselves.
Children often find this time to be confusing and disorienting, especially if their parents are preoccupied with making funeral arrangements. Little gifts can help them feel comforted and loved.
One of the most important things to keep in mind during the service is courtesy and respect toward everyone else there. You should arrive on time and silence your phone. If you are not a close family member or friend, then find a seat in the middle or back rows.
During a visitation or viewing, remember that there are many others who are waiting their turn to pay their respects, or to speak to the family. Keep your remarks short, and save any longer conversations until after the service.