Losing a loved one is a very emotional and difficult experience. Sometimes we just feel that we want to be left alone to deal with our grief and loss. But ironically, an event like this will require you to deal with more people on a social level. As a relative or friend of the bereaved you are also expected to act with sensitivity. But sometimes it is hard to determine if what you’re doing is the proper thing to do during a funeral so here are some things you should remember.
Do call or visit the bereaved upon hearing the news. It’s a way of telling them that you are there for them in their moment of loss. If you do decide to visit the bereaved’s home, proper etiquette says that you should bring a sympathy gift with you. Food is the safest and most useful gift you can give at this point. Definitely, cooking food is not even being seriously thought about by the family of the deceased.
When writing a message of condolences, you shouldn’t limit it to expressing your sympathy. Do add some offers of help to the family. For example, you can say that you can help in assisting guests in the wake or to take care of any small children the family has. At this point, the bereaved will need all the help they can get as they struggle with the many things attached to death – the wake, preparations for the funeral and the burial and other related matters.
Offer a shoulder to cry on to the bereaved. Be there for them and have a ready ear if they want to talk, which they almost always do. Do offer your own fond memories of the deceased. This will help ease their pain. Share any anecdotes you may have or any funny stories involving the deceased. This is a big comfort to them. Anecdotes you share should be positive and cast the deceased in a good light. Do not touch on any negative events or stories, especially ones that involve you and the deceased.
Flowers may sound cliché but it is still one of the best tokens you can give to the bereaved to show them that you care. You can also send a message or a mass card along with the flowers. If the family of the deceased informs everyone that they are discouraging flowers, what you can do is to make a donation to a charity in the deceased’s name. You can also send some fruits or some kind of foodstuff to the family directly to their home.
Do dress appropriately for the funeral. Even though the requirements for funeral attire has relaxed over the years (you’re not required to wear a black and somber formal outfit anymore) you should still strive to dress conservatively, avoiding any bright colors or revealing outfits. Patterns should also be avoided, especially “cheerful” prints like flowers and multi colored polka dots.
photo from flickr.com