The Funeral Service
Funeral services differ depending upon the religious and personal beliefs of the family. Funeral services can be held at a church, temple, funeral home, or even the residence. Most people will chose the funeral home, because of its central location or the unique service that it provides.
Whether the service is held at the funeral home or at church, enter quietly and be seated. The first few rows are usually reserved for family members; however, people should sit close behind them to give comfort and support. The ceremony is usually conducted by a member of the clergy, but others may offer thoughts, anecdotes, or eulogies. At the conclusion of the service, you will want to leave promptly, and wait in your car if you plan to follow the procession to the cemetery. Remember to turn your headlights on so you can be identified as being a part of the procession. Also remember to turn your headlights off once you arrive at the cemetery.
Immediately After The Funeral
Immediately after the funeral, the family sometimes invites the attendees to join them for food or a reception at their home or designated place. This gives everyone a chance to talk and provides some time to relax and refresh. Sometimes friends or church members will take it upon themselves to prepare food ahead of time for this gathering, and relieve the family of this task.
What Do I Say When I See The Family In Public?
What you say depends on if you've already had contact with them. If you attended the visitation or funeral, merely greet them warmly and ask how they are doing. If this is your first meeting with them since the death, your first reaction might be to express your sympathy. However, it is nicer not to bring up the death as this might evoke emotions that might be painful for your friend to deal with in a public place. Perhaps it would be better just to say you understand that this is a difficult time for them. You might even ask when it would be a good time to visit or go to lunch or dinner.
What Can I Do To Help Later?
In the days and months to come, the family will continue to need your support. Try to write or call on a regular basis. Continue to include them in your social plans. They will let you know when they are ready to participate. It is also nice to remember the family on special occasions during the first year following the death. Don't worry about bringing up the pain and emotion of the loss, they are well aware of that. By remembering such occasions as wedding anniversaries and birthdays, you are not remembering the death, but reaffirming that a life was lived.