Preparing for a funeral service can be one of the most difficult things we do in life. In addition to experiencing grief, we might also be experiencing stress—what should we wear? What should we say? What are the little unwritten rules that dictate proper funeral etiquette?
If you have recently lost a loved one, or know you will be needing to plan a memorial service soon, we want you to know exactly what to expect.
The first thing you should know is that no matter what, we are here to help you. We have helped guide countless families through what you are going through, and we want to make this as easy for you and your own family as possible. We will always treat you with respect, understanding and patience.
One of the first things we will do is learn more about your loved one and listen to what your family needs and wants for final arrangements and the services. We will also share our General Price List with you and your family. This will outline the price and details of all of our services. We will work with you to plan funeral services that align with your budget and uniquely celebrate your loved one.
Then, we will ask you about your loved one’s personal details so that we can obtain all necessary permits and paperwork, and publish an obituary. Here are some of some of the details and documents we will need:
Your loved one’s full name and maiden name, if applicable
Their social security number
Their pre-planning documents, if applicable
Their parents’ names
Their spouse and children’s names
Their education history
Their military history and discharge papers, if applicable
Their work history, hobbies, and interests
Their faith affiliation
A recent photograph
Finally, we will ask about what types of services you would like to hold for your loved one. This is a very personal and meaningful part of funeral planning, and we encourage you to confer with your family to make sure you select services that align with your loved one’s wants and values, and your family’s budget.
How to Mentally Prepare for a Funeral
Losing a loved one can be a stressful, disorienting experience. One moment someone you loved is there, and the next moment, they are gone. You might not know how to feel, how to act, or even how to continue taking care of yourself as you navigate this new reality.
As you progress through the mourning process, it’s important to remember to maintain a state of “mindful awareness.” In other words, it might feel tempting to allow yourself to feel numb and resist experiencing difficult emotions. But this won’t make those feelings go away. It will only delay them, and it might even make them worse later on.
During this time, it can be tempting to try everything you can to avoid experiencing the full force of your grief. But allowing yourself to feel the pain of your loss, and practicing healthy ways of coping with it, will help you heal in a deeper way and prevent prolonging the acute period of your grief.
Practice mindfulness by taking a moment every so often to feel everything your mind and body want to feel, remaining mentally present, and allowing yourself to cry or be angry, or share your grief with a close friend or relative. You can’t change the fact that your loved one is gone. But you can learn to accept it while allowing yourself time and space to feel.
It's also important to do everything you can to stay physically healthy. When faced with grief, many of us forget to eat properly and get enough sleep. But this will only make you feel worse. If it’s helpful, keep a list of basic needs nearby, and periodically check it throughout your day to make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Have you eaten today? When was the last time you drank water? Do you feel fatigued, and if you do, do you feel too tired to drive? Have you taken care of yourself mentally by doing something you enjoy, even if it’s something as small as listening to a favorite song? You can add on to this list to personalize it and make it your own.
What to Wear to a Funeral
Deciding what to wear is often one of the first decisions we see people encounter as they prepare to attend a funeral. Fortunately, the norms around this haven’t changed much in the last 100 years. While it is becoming more common to wear brighter colors to funerals, black and semi-formal is usually the best choice. Black or other neutral colors, like tan, gray, or dark blue or green, make coordinating an outfit easy. It also ensures that attention stays on the memory of your loved one. You do not want to draw attention to yourself on this day.
However, times are changing, and as more families pivot to celebrations of life, bright colors might actually be welcomed at a funeral service. If you are unsure of what to wear, reach out to the host the funeral, and ask for guidance.
What to Expect During the Funeral
A funeral is ultimately a social event, and every funeral is different and unique. However, there are some guidelines that will be relevant no matter what type of service you are attending.
The first and most important is to never be disrupting. This time is for remembering your loved one, and you should show respect to your fellow mourners by arriving on time, remaining quiet during the service, and not creating more physical or emotional work for the family. When it is your turn to talk to the family, do not talk about your own grief. Stay focused on them, and ask them if they need help with anything, such as cooking, cleaning, or laundry. Remember that you are not the only person who wants to speak with the family, so keep your remarks supportive but brief.
When you enter the service, take your seat as quietly as possible. The rows closest to the front are usually reserved for your loved one’s immediate family. If you don’t know the departed well, find a seat near the back of the room.
When the service is over, a funeral attendant will give immediate family members the chance to leave the building first. After they leave, you may then exit. If there is a graveside service, the attendant will announce when and where it is to take place. At this time, you can approach the family to pay your respects.
If at any time you are unsure of what to do, watch what other people are doing for cues, or ask a funeral attendant. A member of our staff will always be there to help.
What to Do After the Funeral
The days after a funeral can feel unusually quiet. In the days immediately after the death of your loved one, you had funeral planning to distract you from the full force of your feelings. Now that the funeral is over, you might find yourself overcome with grief.
This is normal. During this time, you should reach out to your support network to make sure you have friends and family to talk to and to ask for help, if you need it. Now is also a good time to pursue grief counseling, either on your own or as part of a group. A member of our staff can refer you to grief counseling in your area.
If you are not an immediate family member of the deceased, you can reach out to those who are and ask them how they are doing. They might feel overwhelmed by the many little things they now have to do, such as attending to their loved one’s will or dealing with insurance. If you are able to offer help, be specific about what you offer, whether it’s walking their dog, picking up groceries, or just offering a hand to hold.
Sympathy cards are also a thoughtful way to connect with the family. Always personalize the card by writing in a short message of support and love.
You Deserve Peace of Mind
We have served the families of Hemet Valley and Inland Empire since 1975. No matter what, we are here when you need us. If you have any questions about attending a funeral, don’t hesitate to call us at (951) 658-3161. Someone will always pick up.
Proudly Serving the Communities of Hemet, Sun City, Menifee, Perris, San Jacinto, Moreno Valley, Lake Elsinore, Romoland, Beaumont, Banning, Murrieta, Temecula, Riverside