Sometimes it helps to be prepared for a visitation or funeral. We hope this helpful guide will enable you to lend better support to a grieving family.
What to Wear
Every family is different so this has the ability to vary. If you aren't particularly sure of a family's "style," you should dress conservatively.
What to do
Do not feel like you have to stay at a visitation for a long time. Coming to see the family and letting them know that you are sorry for their loss is the most important thing. The family will appreciate your support.
Make sure you sign the register book while you are at the visitation. It is usually located outside the room the deceased is in. It may also be helpful to put your relationship to the deceased next to your name (ex: Jon Smith, co-worker), allowing the family to remember who you are.
Make sure your cell phone is either off or on vibrate during the funeral service. You don't want to be "that guy."
What to Say
It is very common to be nervous about going to a funeral home. Often we do not know the perfect words to share with a grieving family. Don't over think it. Sometimes fewer words mean more than you can imagine. Being a good listener can be very helpful to the family. If you find yourself at a loss for words, simply say, "I'm sorry for your loss." It is acceptable to then move on and allow the family to speak with other friends and family. In most circumstances it is not recommended to say, "I know what you're going through," because chances are good that you do not fully understand their grieving process.
If you know the deceased, it is always nice to say a little something about them to their family. "She was a wonderful lady," or "We loved playing golf together." Try to stay clear of using phrases like, "She's in a better place now," or "Time will heal your loss," or "At least she isn't suffering anymore." These lines usually aren't too beneficial to the family.
Many people say "Call me if you need anything." This is a nice gesture but chances are the family isn't going to call. Instead try to give them a reason to call. Say something like, "We are going to dinner next Friday and would love for you to join us." They might turn down your offer at first, but eventually they will appreciate it and take you up on it.
Finally, don't forget about the family in the months after the funeral. During a visitation or funeral service the family of the deceased is surrounded by friends and family, and this helps them cope with the initial loss of their loved one. However, the most difficult time can be the couple of months after the death when they are alone. During these times they can really use your love and support.