What to bring to a funeral?
February 18, 2009 4:13 PM   Subscribe

What, if anything, do you bring to a funeral?

My fiancee and I are going to the funeral of one her patients. I've never been to a funeral for a non-family member before. What's the etiquette? Is it expected or appropriate to bring flowers or a card or something?
posted by Laen to Human Relations (13 answers total)
No. Just show up, pay your respects, and leave.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:13 PM on February 18, 2009

Nothing is expected usually (as far as I know), but I think it's good to sign the guestbook.
posted by mhum at 4:16 PM on February 18, 2009

Just sign the guestbook. Maybe make a donation if the family is asking in lieu of flowers, but you don't have to. Don't send flowers to a Jewish funeral.
posted by Maisie Jay at 4:22 PM on February 18, 2009

I've never heard of anyone bringing anything to the actual funeral service before.

Sometimes after a service at a church there may be a small reception for the mourners where food is served, but the church usually provides that food.

The only responsiblity you have as an attendee, from what Miss Manners writes, is to wear the appropriate attire and demeanor, and sign the guest book.
posted by magstheaxe at 4:22 PM on February 18, 2009

You don't mention religion/denomination/culture. In lieu of that important information, bring compassion and tissues.
posted by Ookseer at 4:28 PM on February 18, 2009

Mass card if the deceased is Cathloic.
posted by fixedgear at 4:29 PM on February 18, 2009

Usually you wouldn't bring the flowers to the funeral, but instead drop them off at the funeral home before.

Other than that, nothing that I can think of.
posted by CaptKyle at 4:32 PM on February 18, 2009

When my grandfather died, it was decided that two of my cousins and I would be responsible for bringing the gifts up during the service. I asked, "Who brings presents to a funeral?" No one, it turns out - the "gifts" are the wine and bread at a Catholic funeral.
posted by Coffeemate at 4:45 PM on February 18, 2009

Try to bring a lovely memory/story of the person who passed away (in this case, your fiancee will have this) and share it with the person(s) who lost the loved one. It's a lovely gift they'll take away with them unlike flowers or any other tangible thing. I speak from experience, having been on the receiving end of these gifts. Knowing others appreciated the person in unique ways meant a lot to me.
posted by mumstheword at 4:55 PM on February 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

Sympathy cards would get mailed to the family's house and flowers go to the funeral home, so no, you don't need to bring anything to the funeral. If the family is receiving guests at their house or if your fiancee knows the family well, it might be nice to bring a casserole or something to their house (not to the the church) - but this isn't necessary or expected, so if that seems like it'd be awkward, don't do it.

I was at a close family member's funeral was a few days ago and while I won't remember who sent what bouquet, I will remember seeing all the people who came to the service for quite some time. In all likelihood the family will be touched just to see you there.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:16 PM on February 18, 2009

Thanks everyone!
posted by Laen at 5:30 PM on February 18, 2009

Ninety percent of life is just showing up. This is never more true than at funerals. Wear a coat and tie, dark suit if you have one, sign the book and if the deceased was related to a friend etc. try to shake hands or hug as appropriate. Your mere presence is comforting, trust me, and when the deceased is your good friend the ceremony is comforting for you. This ceremony is really for those still in this world, not the departed. If you are close with the family perhaps you send over some food like a tray of lasagna. Perhaps it's something different where you live, but when a relative passes here in Jersey you are eating lasagna for some time. Send it in a tin foil tray so they don't have to worry about returning the tray.
posted by caddis at 7:18 PM on February 18, 2009

I've never brought anything to a funeral. The family is usually heading to the grave site immediately afterwards, and isn't really in the mental space to keep track of any extraneous items.

If you would like to give a card to the family, sending one in the mail is always well received (so to speak).
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:54 AM on February 19, 2009

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