WHAT TO SAY
It can be difficult to know what to say to the family of the deceased to express your sympathy. To begin, offer your condolences to the family. If you are comfortable, share a memory of the deceased. In this difficult time, sharing the joy of the deceased’s life can help comfort the bereaved. For example, “I was so sorry to hear of Mary’s passing. She was always such a wonderful friend to me."
WHAT TO WEAR
Be sure to dress simply and conservatively. Men are encouraged to wear a jacket and tie paired with dress shoes, while women should choose either a dress or a suit. Any jewelry should be subtle and traditional.
When attending a funeral or a service, do your best to be on time. Try to enter the facility as quietly as possible. If there are no ushers present, remember that the first few rows of seats are usually for the immediate family and close friends. Acquaintances should appropriately seat themselves in the middle or towards the rear.
WHEN TO VISIT
Upon learning of a death, it is appropriate for family and close friends to offer sympathy and support. This can be a very overwhelming time for a family. Offering to assist with child care, food preparation, receiving visitors, or cleaning can provide immense comfort and help during this difficult process. Avoid making your visit about you. Let them know you are available for their needs and move into an active roll. Be mindful that family is priority, regardless of your relationship with the deceased or survivors.
The funeral home is the best place to visit the family to offer your condolences, as they are prepared for visitors at these facilities.
Sending flowers is a wonderful way to express your sympathy to the family of the deceased, and can bring comfort in a difficult time. Flowers are a meaningful gift that can be enjoyed during and after the funeral service.
Floral arrangements and plants can be sent to the funeral home to be present at services, or sent to the home of the family directly.
WHAT NOT TO SAY
Try not to give comments that minimize the loss, such as "It's probably for the best, because he was suffering too much," or "I've been in your shoes myself." These will not provide comfort to the bereaved
Wait for the family to discuss the cause of death. Do not bring it up yourself.
KEEP THE LINE MOVING
Visitations can be very emotional, especially when speaking with the family of the deceased. If there is a line to speak with the bereaved and view the casket, be conscious of keeping the line moving. After passing through the line, be sure to stand to the side to continue conversation, or allow the family member to continue to greet guests. The family will often be more available to speak following the conclusion of the service. NEVER greet the family during a public passing by the casket during a service. Great care and planning has gone into the flow of people exiting a service. Remember the person behind you, is blindly following, so take the director's instructions seriously. Please reserve visiting for a time that is much less stressful and less emotional for the family. This is not the time to get credit for attending, it's rude.
MOBILE PHONE USE
Phones should be turned off or silenced completely during the service. Checking your phone is noticeable and is a distraction to those who are trying to pay their respects. If you must return a message or receive a call, exit the service quietly and do NOT return to ceremony. Wait for the service to concluded and resume your attendance after the dismissal.
Allowing a child to attend a memorial or funeral service can help them say goodbye to a friend or loved one. It is an important life lesson, but instead encourage them to share in this tribute with the rest of the family. Before attending, help prepare them by explaining what they might see at the service. Avoid allowing children to sign the register until the line is short. It blocks flow, and many times leave people standing in the rain. It is also the responsibility of the guarding to manage noise and behavior. The family is trying to reflect on their loved one's life, not be irritated by crying child, In this case, the guardian should find a place to go with the child, outside the confines of the ceremony.
This can be a very draining time for a family. The gift of food is a kind gesture that the family will deeply appreciate and help alleviate the stress of funeral planning and mourning.
Remembering children in the family is a thoughtful gesture, as this is often a difficult time for them as well. A small gift like a stuffed animal or a book is best.
Time is precious. Helping with household tasks ease the family's burden. Caring for pets, driving children to school, running errands, or helping around the house are wonderful ways to help the family.