The death of a friend or loved one is an event that most people will experience at some point in their lives. Since this is not something that happens frequently, it is often not given much thought beforehand. If this is a unique experience for you, here are a few things to consider when a friend or loved one has passed away.
Many times a wake is held on a day prior to the funeral and burial services. If you are uncertain about the exact schedule and would like to attend, ask about it when you call the immediate family to express your condolences.
- What to Wear – It has been a tradition for many years to wear black to a funeral or memorial service. That practice is no longer as strictly observed as it was in the past, but it is always best to wear dark or subdued colors to a funeral such as black, grey, brown, or dark blue. Do not wear bright colors or busy patterns.
- Flowers – A floral arrangement can be a welcome gift for a bereaved family. If you decide to purchase flowers, you can have them delivered to the funeral home or directly to the family's residence. If the family requests donations in lieu of flowers, it is best to honor their request. You can also send a simple card directly to the family home.
- Funeral or Memorial Service – There are usually no assigned seats at a funeral or memorial service. Traditionally, the first row in the front is reserved for the immediate family. Attendees can sit anywhere they would like directly behind the family. After the service, make sure that you sign the guest book to let the family know that you attended.
- Funeral Procession – After the funeral service, the attendees may need to drive to the burial grounds. The ushers at the funeral will organize this procession. They will sometimes give the attendees a sign to place in the front window of their cars indicating that they are a part of a procession. Otherwise, you can turn your hazard lights on during the procession. The funeral coach will lead the procession and all other cars will follow behind.
- Burial Service – A burial service is most often a short ritual that takes place in a memorial park. It is customary to have a few chairs at the graveside for the immediate family. All other attendees stand behind the family while a few words are spoken about the deceased.
- Reception or Luncheon – If there is a luncheon after the funeral and/or burial service, and if you are invited, the family will announce the location and time.
The death of a friend or loved one can be a difficult time for the family of the deceased. It is always a nice gesture to follow up with a call or visit in the ensuing weeks or months to let the family know that you have not forgotten them and would be willing to help them if they need anything. This call can be very comforting for a grieving family and they will not soon forget your kindness and consideration.