“One of the most important things you can do is to let people know they are not alone.” – Shannon L. Alder

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When you’re invited to attend a funeral service you may have questions about what to expect, what to wear and how you can show your support.

Being There For Someone You Care About

The caring presence, kindness and understanding of family and friends can be a great help to a grieving family. There are lots of ways to show your support whether or not you are able to attend the services. If you aren’t able to be there in person, consider using Everdays to post a thoughtful condolence or share a favorite photo memory. The most important thing is to find a genuine and caring way to be there for the family.

Suggested Read: Saying Goodbye: 9 Ways to Honor Your Loved One Without a Funeral

What to Expect: Differences Between a Memorial Service, Funeral Service, Wake, and Viewing

Wakes, viewings, funerals and memorial services each have a unique purpose. Read on for an idea of what to expect as you prepare to attend one of these different types of events.
If you’re wondering what to say when you’re there, we’ve provided 6 suggestions to help you find the right words in our blog “Is It Ok To Say I’m Sorry For Your Loss?

1. Wake

A wake is a gathering of family and friends to pay their respects to the deceased person. Traditionally, the wake took place in the house of the deceased. Modern wakes, similar to the viewing, are often held at the funeral home. A wake is generally held before the funeral service.

2. Viewing

A viewing is a gathering of friends and family at the funeral home with the body of the deceased person present. The viewing gives mourners the opportunity to gather and support one another, and to pay their respects to the deceased. Generally, visitors have the option to arrive at any time during the designated viewing hours, and can stay for as long or as short as they’d like.

3. Funeral Service

A funeral service is designed to create a space for families and friends to lend support to each other and to say their final goodbyes. Unlike memorial services, wakes, and viewings, a funeral service may involve the burial. A funeral service typically takes place at a funeral home, place of worship, or a combination of both. The timing of the funeral service can vary by culture, ranging anywhere from a day or two to a week after someone has passed away.

Suggested Read: How To Plan A Funeral: Checklist & Worklist Included (2020 Edition)

4. Memorial Service

At a memorial service, family and friends are invited to memorialize the deceased without the body present. If a cremation has taken place, the memorial service may be held with the cremated remains present. Alternatively, if a burial occurs prior to the service for the deceased, the service that follows is considered a memorial service. It is common for the service to take place shortly after the passing or on the anniversary of the death. Memorial services can take place in traditional settings, such as a church or religious institution, or at a home or memorable location that is sentimental to the family.

Suggested Read: Celebration Of Life – 20 Of The Best Ideas (2019 Edition)

What to Wear to a Funeral

Many funerals are traditional, while other services bring more modern and unique ways of celebrating life. When you’re choosing attire for a funeral, the first step is to find out whether the service will be traditional or personalized.

Traditional Funeral

Dress for a traditional service in formal attire. A dark suit, slacks, skirt, or dress is appropriate. For footwear, choose a flat shoe or a lower heel. It is often recommended to wear darker colors, and while muted color tones are generally acceptable, it is best to avoid bright colors and distracting prints.

Personalized Funeral

Some families may choose to celebrate their loved one with a personalized service. This type of service may be themed around a passion or interest, favorite color, sports team, or an achievement. For these types of events, the family may request that you dress in accordance with the theme of the service.

Whether the services are traditional or personalized, it is important to respect the family’s wishes about the dress code so that you can help to keep the focus on what’s most important during this difficult time: offering loving comfort and support to friends and family.

To get more tips and information, read What To Wear To A Funeral: Expert Tips for Men and Women.

Attending a Funeral

If you are able to attend the services and events, your presence can help the family to feel connected and supported, which can be a great help during this difficult time.