When to Attend a Funeral
It can be difficult to know whether or not to attend a funeral service. Most often, the bereaved do not send out invitations, and funerals can generate a lot of emotions that are difficult to navigate. The general rule of thumb, though, is that you should attend a funeral if you a) want to attend and b) the funeral is open to the public.
However, there are some mitigating factors you should consider:
- Is it a funeral or a wake? Wakes and memorial services are almost always open to the public, and it is expected that anyone is welcome. A funeral service, however, might be reserved for family and close friends. If an obituary mentions "private services," don't press anyone for an invitation. If the obituary lists the date and times of a funeral, that is usually an indication that all are welcome.
- What is your relationship to the bereaved? Relationships are complicated, and if you and the deceased had resentments or tensions arising from family dynamics, relationship fallouts, or frequent arguments, your presence might be painful for the bereaved. Ask yourself if your attenance would cause difficulties for the grieving family before you go.
- How well did you know the deceased? If you hadn't spoken to the deceased in years or you were never close, you might decide not to attend. However, even if it has been awhile, you should feel free to attend and pay your respects without issue. The family might be grateful to see all the people whose lives were touched by the deceased.
- How well do you know the bereaved? Even if you don't know the deceased at all, you may wish to attend the funeral in order to support the grieving friends and family of the deceased. It is often a comfort to the bereaved to see a tangible representation of support and care. You can ask a friend or family member if your presence would be welcome. If they say no, you might consider instead writing a card, providing a meal, or sending flowers instead.
- Will you regret not going? This is your chance to say goodbye to the departed. Although funerals can be uncomfortable, and you might not know what to say or whom to talk to, this is a chance for community support through grief. If you want to make sure you'll feel that closure from paying your respects, go.
- How difficult would attending be for you? You should also consider your own needs and limitations. Is the funeral a great distance away? Are you in poor health? Would you have trouble respectfully observing the deceased's services from a religious or cultural perspective? Attending a funeral is not mandatory, and you should keep your own comfort level in mind.
Index of obituary templates