Wondering what to take to a funeral? If you’ve not been to one before (or it’s been a while) it can be hard to figure out the proper etiquette. Grief can also make it hard to concentrate on much at all.

Don’t worry. We’ve created this handy guide to help you decide what to bring to a funeral or memorial service, and what to leave at home. Let’s begin.

 

What should you bring to a funeral?

The first thing to know is that you only really need to bring yourself. It’s not rude or offensive to just come and pay your respects. The list below is more a set of suggestions that can help you comfort others and be more comfortable during the day.

 

What to take to a funeral service

 

  • Tissues

Even if you don’t think you’re going to cry, bring tissues just in case. Often, the sight of the coffin or something that happens during the funeral can set you off unexpectedly. You’ll also be able to offer a tissue if someone else starts to cry. It doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

 

  • Sympathy card

You could bring a card with a message of condolence. You won’t necessarily have to hand it to the family though – often, there’s a place to leave cards and flowers at the service or the reception. It’s equally fine to post the card instead. For inspiration, you might like our guide to sympathy card messages.

 

  • Flowers

It’s traditional to send flowers when someone dies. Some people get them delivered to the family or the funeral home. But you can also bring them to the funeral service. We have guides on what flowers to take to a funeral and inspiration for funeral flower messages to help you out.

 

  • Charitable donation 

Flowers aren’t ideal for everyone. Sometimes, families ask funeral guests for donations to a charity instead. If the funeral is going to be in a church, you might be asked to donate some money for the church’s upkeep, too. So, it’s worth bringing some cash with you.

 

  • A memory or story about the person who has died

It can be helpful to think of a fond memory of the person who has died before the funeral. Or even a funny story. There may be a guestbook to write it in, or you could share it with other guests at the reception or wake.

 

  • Photos

If you have a nice photo of the person who has died, you might like to make a copy and bring it to the funeral. It’s a thoughtful gesture. Place the photos in the guestbook or tuck them into a sympathy card or bouquet.

 

  • Sunglasses

Sunglasses are more than just protection against the glare of the sun. A lot of people wear them to funerals simply to help them hide their eyes when things get emotional. If you don’t like to cry in public, sunglasses are your friend.

 

  • Umbrella

Is the weather forecast looking foreboding? Take an umbrella. This is especially important if there’s going to be a graveside service or the whole ceremony is outdoors. But even getting wet during the walk between your car and the service can make for an uncomfortable day.

 

  • Sensible shoes

If you’re going to a woodland burial, it’s a good idea to wear shoes that are suited to walking outdoors. Something with a low heel and some grip. Thin high heels can sink right into soft soil, so consider wearing something else if you’re going to be standing at the graveside.

 

  • A toy or two, if you’re bringing children

Like the rest of us, children can often benefit from attending the funeral of a loved one. But it can be helpful to bring something to distract them if they start to play up or get bored. Make sure the toy itself isn’t noisy.

 

  • Food for the reception

Sometimes, the family will ask funeral guests to bring a dish for a pot-luck at the reception. It’s a good idea to pick something that’s not too messy (i.e. nothing liquid) that is okay to eat cold and will feed a lot of people. You can ask someone close to the family what to bring to the funeral reception if you’re not sure.

 

What do you take to a celebration of life?

A celebration of life is a less traditional send-off, with a focus on remembering the great memories you made with the person who has died. The format is often a lot more creative than a traditional funeral. Usually, the family will ask guests to wear bright colours instead of black.

If you’re not sure what to bring to a memorial service or funeral that’s also a celebration of life, check your invite (if there is one), read the obituary (again, if applicable) or ask the person who told you about the funeral what they think. If you’re close to the family, you can ask them.

Beyond offer free online obituaries that you can build in just 5 minutes. Create a beautiful, personal page where friends and family can share memories, raise money for a cause, and crowdfund the funeral. Find out more here.

 

For more guides on funerals…

…take a look at the rest of our help centre. Now that you know what to take to a funeral, you might like to find out what to wear, or what good funeral etiquette looks like. Find all this and more here.

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