Preparing For a Funeral Service
Preparing for a funeral service is never an easy experience. For many people, the loss of a loved one causes us to experience a whirlwind of emotions and grief. All of these feelings seem to become more intense as the day of the service approaches and we prepare to say one last goodbye.
It doesn't matter if you're a member of the bereaved inner circle of close family, a co-worker, neighbor or family friend; preparing for a funeral service takes time and forethought. If you are preparing yourself to attend a funeral, memorial service, or celebration of life; the following tips and suggestions can certainly help with your funeral preparations.
What to Wear to A Funeral
If you are planning to attend a funeral in the near future, you may find yourself wondering what to wear to a funeral. It’s a common question that leaves many people wondering and struggling to pick an outfit. Casual? Formal? Business professional? Today it seems like the dress code at any given funeral is as unique as the deceased.
While there is no specific dress code to follow, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and pick a conservative outfit. Remember, the most important thing is to make sure your outfit does not call unwanted attention to yourself and away from the service. A funeral is a time to show your respect as you honor the life of the deceased, and your clothing should reflect that. For men, dark suits or slacks and a dress shirt is preferred. For women, a dress, business suit, or dress pants and nice sweater. Stick to colors like black, navy, grey, or red-violet. Avoid loud colors and vibrant patterns at all costs.
What to Say at A Funeral
You might find yourself struggling with the right words to say when offering condolences. The best advice we can offer is to keep it short and always be sincere. Chances are, the family will be speaking with many different people over the day so they won’t be able to give you a lot of time. There is no real rule about what to say at a funeral. When in doubt, a brief expression of sympathy like “I’m so sorry for your loss” is perfectly fine. If you feel up to it, share some short stories about memories and experiences you shared with the deceased.
While you are talking to other guests, try not to be too loud. Funerals and visitations are no time to discuss personal matters like business or vacation. The focus should be on sharing and listening to stories about the deceased.
Certainly, if you've got additional questions about what to say at a funeral, call us at 732-449-6900.
Get Physically, Mentally and Emotionally Prepared
The death of a loved one is among the most stressful experiences we will ever endure. The early days of bereavement, are a time of frayed nerves, when emotions run high and hours of restful sleep are hard to find. These difficult days are then followed by the funeral service (where, even though you're grief stricken, you're expected to perform with some social grace). How can you possibly survive; or better yet thrive, during such trials as these? Here are some suggestions we believe you'll find valuable:
Maintain a state of "mindful awareness". The tendency when something bad happens to us, like the death of a loved one, is to detach from our physical, emotional and social selves. To "get numb, and stay that way" - but this effort to separate ourselves from what's happening isn't always in our best interest. Instead, you should seek to be "mindful": to keep your awareness on the present moment (not the past, and certainly not the future); all the while acknowledging (and accepting) your feelings, thoughts, and bodily reactions to your loss. Only then can you, in the words of Reinhold Niebuhr's Serenity Prayer, accept the things that cannot be changed, have the courage to change the things which can (and should) be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. Certainly, you cannot change the fact your loved one has died; but you can change (at least to some degree) the way you react to the loss–and that takes a certain sense of mindful self-awareness.
Do everything you can to stay physically healthy. The list of physical symptoms of grief is long: fatigue, body aches and pains, loss or change of appetite, shortness of breath, digestive issues, feelings of heaviness, and tightness in your throat or chest. When faced with an onslaught of physical symptoms like these, it's hard to know exactly how to deal with them. The first step is to recognize and name what your body is experiencing. Only then can you do something to change the way you're reacting to the loss. During these days before the funeral:
Stay hydrated: drink eight (8 ounce) glasses of water.
Eat regularly: small meals and snacks are often better-accepted than large, calorically-laden one.
Rest regularly: you may find nights are long and sleepless, so don't be adverse to taking short cat-naps throughout the day.
Move your body: take a walk or hike, go to the gym, or enjoy a leisurely swim.
Nurture your senses: listen to music or the sounds which abound in nature.
Engage in prayer or meditation: tap into, or get reacquainted with, your spiritual side.
Reduce your list of necessary activities and chores: now is the time to delegate tasks to others, so you can devote your time to self-care.
Reach out to your support network. Neighbors, friends and family members can be your lifeline right now - and some of them may even be coming to you right now to see how they can help. Don't turn them away; instead, give them the opportunity to give the gift of service. Allow them to walk this path with you for as long as, and in whatever ways, they can. The same goes for the network of professional caregivers: don't neglect to turn to clergy, your family physician, therapist, or grief counselor if you feel your bereavement to be more than you can handle (now, or at any time in the future).
Prepare to speak less and listen more. End-of-life ceremonies (whether a "traditional" funeral, memorial service or celebration-of-life) offer those gathered the chance to share their feelings, tell stories and take comfort from one another. Don't spend too much time talking, unless it's to share something truly meaningful (about the deceased and your relationship to him or her) with others; instead, be ready to listen with a whole heart. This is a time for respectful interactions with other mourners; a time for focusing on the life of the deceased, and also a time for renewing the ties which brought you all together in the first place.
Let Us Help with Your Preparations
Who better to turn to for assistance in preparing for a funeral service? We've got the experience and insights which could make this situation easier for you and those you love. If you have questions about preparing for a funeral service—either as a member of the family or as a guest—we're here to support you in any way we can; simply call us at 732-449-6900.