Just as there is no rule book detailing the “right” thing to say to someone at a funeral, it can be difficult to know what you should or should not bring to a service. Funerals and memorials are a time for quiet reflection, bonding with loved ones and remembering a life well-lived — not necessarily the right venue for loud electronics or other noisy devices. Depending on a family’s faith and cultural background, funerals may be a time of quiet reflection or exuberant joy and celebration of the individual who has passed away. These general rules of Service Etiquette will allow you to be confident in your choices for what to bring (or leave at home) when supporting those you care for during a difficult time.
What to Leave Behind
- Revealing clothing: While black is no longer a requirement for funerals, this is not the time to grab the limelight with brightly-colored new accessories. In these situations, modesty is the rule of thumb.
- Loud electronics and phones that aren’t muted: In today’s selfie-driven society, it’s important to know that family members are in mourning and aren’t likely to appreciate you tweeting during the funeral.
- Pets: Though adorable, unless they are certified service animals, animal companions can be a nuisance at a service. Some people have allergies or fears of some species or breeds. Depending on where a service is taking place, uncovered food may be present where fur would not be appreciated.
What You May Bring
- Flowers: Though they may not last long, flowers retain the ability to bring light to a dim occasion. They are a stunning visual of how many people were impacted by the departed.
- Food and Snacks: While you shouldn’t feel obligated to bring food to the funeral, it is often appreciated as family members may be there for extended hours with no ability to grab a bite. Especially thoughtful are items such as fruit trays, sandwich trays and other small items that can be eaten without a lot of mess and that will stay safe if opened multiple times.
- Sympathy Cards: Though losing its hold in tradition, many people still bring sympathy cards to a service for the family. The thoughtful words and shared memories found within when the family grieves in private does much to offer support.
Children tend to bring joy wherever they are — and can add a breath of fresh air to what could otherwise be a very somber occasion. Consider that not all children are at an age or of a temperament to endure a lengthy service surrounded by new people and demanding quiet periods. This is also a time when you may be more focused on being supportive or grieving yourself, therefore you may want to consider a sitter. If you do bring your child to a funeral service be sure to bring small, quiet toys or coloring books to keep them entertained and out of trouble. Electronics are fine as well, just be sure they are switched to silent. If you are planning to bring your child and these were forgotten at home, ask a staff member of the funeral home or church if they may have something available. Sometimes a side room may be vacant for them to play in without detracting from the service.
Attending a funeral can bring strong emotions to the forefront for anyone, especially close friends or family members of the deceased. At Mountain View Funeral Home and Cemetery, our caring and compassionate staff will help answer questions both before and during the ceremony to ensure that everyone is as comfortable as possible.