Funeral filter
January 18, 2007 5:48 PM   Subscribe

Should I go to this funeral?

A work associate's father just passed away suddenly. I had never met him or the family. Is it appropriate or even acceptable for me to attend this funeral?
posted by snowjoe to Human Relations (25 answers total)
It's rarely inappropriate or unacceptable to attend a funderal, joe. If your relationship with the work associate is such that you want to support him/her by paying your respects, then by all means go without a second thought.
posted by shallowcenter at 5:52 PM on January 18, 2007

No one is going to think it odd or inappropriate if you don't go, but if you do, it will be a nice gesture of support for your co-worker. Definitely appropriate and acceptable.
posted by iconomy at 5:54 PM on January 18, 2007

Funerals are at least as much about supporting the living as they are commemorating the dead. Ask your workmates whether they're going; perhaps you can go as a group?
posted by Paragon at 5:57 PM on January 18, 2007

Yes. Grieving is a lonely business, and most people avoid funerals as if going to one means that theirs will be next. Your support of your friend will likely be very appreciated.

Also, be sure to ask how s/he's doing a month or so after the funeral--the shock wears off around the same time people expect you to be "over" the loss you're just now beginning to feel.
posted by truenorth at 6:09 PM on January 18, 2007

The co-worker obviously wants you to go, otherwise they wouldn't have invited you. I get the feeling you don't want to go and are looking for a way out. That's fine (don't want to be all JudgeMe here) but no one is going to get upset about you being there.
posted by delmoi at 6:10 PM on January 18, 2007

I have a friend. Someone this friend respected said that it was always good to attend funerals. My friend took it to heart. Whenever someone he knows has a death in the family, he does his best to attend the funeral. He reports that people are always very appreciative. There has never been the slightest indication that anyone has taken issue.

I am contemplating doing the same thing.
posted by Good Brain at 6:11 PM on January 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

You can't do wrong by going. Ten years later, they won't remember a word you said, but will remember forever that you were there.
posted by 4ster at 6:16 PM on January 18, 2007

Never miss weddings or funerals.
posted by asparagus_berlin at 6:21 PM on January 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yes, go (unless it's an explicitely private ceremony). It will mean a lot to the family.

When my dad died, there were all these people at the funeral - hundreds of them! I had no fucking clue who most of them were, yet I was incredibly moved that they'd all felt bothered enough to come. It made me feel sooo proud of what an amazing person he had been.

(all the better if most of the family don't know you - they'll all think you came because of him!)
posted by ClarissaWAM at 6:38 PM on January 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Are you close to the work associate? If you're not at least friends, I think it would seem odd.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:00 PM on January 18, 2007

If you're not close to the work associate, I would say that you should only go if a group of you from work are going together. (Which you should encourage, because it would be wonderful for your colleague.)

If you're close to the associate, then go, absolutely, for all the reasons stated above.

Either way, send a nice card to the co-workers home address.
posted by desuetude at 7:19 PM on January 18, 2007

Yes, it's definitely acceptable unless it's a private ceremony. If you can't make it to the funeral then at least go to the viewing. The family will definitely appreciate it.

I understand not wanting to go; I never used to go to these things myself. It took a couple of funerals of people close to me to realize just how important it is to show your support. You don't have to do much; just being there is enough.
posted by Opposite George at 7:21 PM on January 18, 2007

A coworker/friend I'm close to recently lost his father. He has remarked frequently since the funeral how touched he was by those we work with, but aren't close to on a daily basis, who took the time to come and pay their respects. I think it suprised him how much it meant to him.

Two other coworkers are currently dealing with parents in critical condition, knowing how much it meant to my friend, I plan on going to both funerals. I probably wouldn't have had I not been told specifically how much it was a help to my friend.
posted by librarianamy at 7:21 PM on January 18, 2007

When my father's parents each died (gosh, I can't believe it's been nearly 20 years!), I remember how amazed and incredibly touched he was by all the people who came to the funeral who he hadn't considered "close" colleagues or family friends. It really moved him, and absolutely gave him some comfort during a difficult time.
posted by scody at 7:46 PM on January 18, 2007

All good answers here. You should definitely go to support your friend. And don't forget to tip the undertaker!
posted by ColdChef at 7:56 PM on January 18, 2007

If this is someone with who you spend time outside of work, go. Otherwise, just give him a card telling him your thoughts are with him--I did this for my neighbor who lost his dog.
posted by brujita at 9:44 PM on January 18, 2007

I've only attended two funerals of people I was close to, and I was very touched when unexpected people attended.

HOWEVER: A colleague's husband recently died, and at his funeral a significant number of people who weren't close to the family attended -- on the order of more than 350. I heard later that it was very trying for his widow, who was exhausted by the effort of trying to talk with everyone, when she would have preferred to be allowed to grieve with those she was closest to on that day.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:19 PM on January 18, 2007

ColdChef: are you serious? Call me naive.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:27 PM on January 18, 2007

The first two answers are the best...
posted by Kwantsar at 10:58 PM on January 18, 2007

More than two decades later, I still remember how certain people unexpectedly (and generously) came to the viewing or the funeral (or both) when my father died. I didn't get to speak to each of them, but remembering to this day that they were there feels good, it's a memory of a bad time tempered with the memory of feeling very cared for and upheld by the concern of others.
posted by Dreama at 11:47 PM on January 18, 2007

Ambrosia Voyeur: As I recall, I think ColdChef IS an undertaker, if I'm not mistaken. I'm very sorry if I'm wrong about this, though...

And yes, I think it's appropriate for you to go, snowjoe.
posted by misozaki at 1:57 AM on January 19, 2007

About tipping, do I re-call that ColdChef is at times a firefighter and undertaker for his community?
posted by Wilder at 2:38 AM on January 19, 2007

I was sort of suprised to look around the church and see a dozen or so of my co-workers (none of whom had ever met him) at my father's funeral. It meant a lot to me.
posted by fixedgear at 5:29 AM on January 19, 2007

Thanks everyone. These are all excellent answers and I've learned a lot. They could all be marked as best! I'll go to the funeral.
posted by snowjoe at 8:59 AM on January 19, 2007

Imagine yourself in an interaction with you co-worker post-funeral, and you didn't go.

Now imagine the same interaction, and you did.

Which scenario is more comfortable for you? Will you feel bad if you don't go?
posted by altcountryman at 7:11 PM on January 19, 2007

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