What to take to a funeral
What should you take to a funeral? In our latest guide to funeral etiquette, we offer advice on what to consider bringing along, whether it’s something to remember the deceased by or to help get you through the service.
Before we continue, it is worth noting that, apart from yourself, there is actually no need to take anything to a funeral. As long as you turn up at the correct time and place to pay your respects, funeral etiquette places no other expectations upon you in this regard.
Equally, there is nothing to say that you shouldn’t, if you so wish.
You may choose to take a token of respect, or something more practical to help you remain comfortable throughout. Whatever your intention is, take a look at some of our suggestions below.
What could I take to a funeral to pay my respects?
Although your presence at the funeral alone is enough to show your respect and remember the deceased, you might want to take something along too. This might be:
A memory or a story concerning the deceased
If you have a fond memory or a particular story about the deceased, you might want to share this. You could include it as a message in a sympathy card or add it to the guestbook if one is available. Either way, it would show those immediately affected by the loss that their loved one remains in your thoughts.
A sympathy card is a straightforward way of both expressing your condolences and letting the immediate family know you are thinking of them. You may wish to offer your support or leave a simple, heartfelt message, but whatever you choose to write in the sympathy card it will help to bring comfort to those who are grieving.
Flowers are a traditional part of funerals and regarded as a symbolic way of extending your sympathies. There will usually be an area set aside for the placing of the flowers (often near to or inside the entrance of the church or crematorium). You can also leave them with the funeral director beforehand.
The family may request that instead of flowers a donation to the charity of their choosing is made. The accepted method for collecting the money is a funeral donation box, which allows you to make an anonymous contribution following the service. The funeral director will then arrange for the collection to either be handed over to the family or sent to the chosen charity.
What could I take to a funeral to remain comfortable?
It might be to help you (or another) cope with the emotional drain the occasion can place upon you. It might be to ensure your physical comfort during the service. Whatever your reason, here are some practical suggestions for what to take to a funeral:
Funerals are highly emotional affairs and, with such an intense outpouring of grief, you may wish to come prepared. Tissues or a handkerchief can help if tears are inevitable. They are also useful to have at hand to offer somebody else similarly affected.
Sunglasses at a funeral can serve two purposes. They can protect your eyes from the glare of the sun on a hot day, particularly if it is a graveside service. Alternatively, sunglasses are sometimes worn by those in mourning to conceal their emotions at a time when they are understandably distressed.
If rain has been forecast for the day of the funeral, you may want to take along an umbrella to keep dry. Once again, this is particularly worth remembering in the case of a graveside service or one that takes place outdoors (a burial at sea, for instance).
If there has been heavy rain prior to a graveside service, or the funeral is a woodland burial or similar, you might want to consider taking footwear that is both practical and provides the level of comfort that will see you through the day.
If you intend to take a young child along to the funeral, a favourite toy, such as a teddy bear, could help to provide reassurance if they become emotional or upset. Remember that this is a respectful occasion and anything that is noisy or likely to cause a disturbance or disruption should be left at home.
As previously stated, the above are only suggestions and funeral etiquette doesn’t require you take anything on the day, unless you want to.