When someone passes away, funerals or memorial services are usually prepared by the deceased's immediate family or loved ones. So while it may be clear what your role and tasks are when you’re the one preparing for this funeral, it might seem a little more confusing if you’re attending as a guest.
Photo from Memorialize Art
Perhaps you’re wondering, what to take to a funeral. While the answer may seem straightforward, there are many things to consider. In this post, we'll take a look at what you should bring to a funeral and why. We'll also offer some advice on choosing the right items for your needs. Read on for more information.
What Do People Usually Do at Funerals?
Depending on the culture and the wishes of the deceased or their family, funerals can vary. Most, however, have a standard structure.
First, a funeral usually involves a procession where pallbearers bring the coffin to the venue where the funeral is located. The ceremony itself then follows this. Usually, a funeral service is led by clergy or anyone close to the deceased. This ceremony includes giving eulogies, praying or reading scriptures, and singing or listening to funeral songs. Once the ceremony is done, the dead will then be buried or cremated, which can be held at a different location.
Why Should People Take Things to a Funeral?
If you’re planning to go to a funeral, you might be wondering whether you’re supposed to bring anything with you. The truth is, no rule states you should, but it certainly does help if you do. Attending funerals can be very emotionally draining, so it helps if you feel comfortable, at least physically, as you go through the funeral service.
What Should I Usually Bring to a Funeral?
The first thing you should consider bringing is a bunch of tissues or a handkerchief. As mentioned, a funeral is highly emotional, so it’s very helpful if you have items ready should you need them to wipe your tears. If you also choose to bring tissues, you can also give them to other attendees who might need them.
Some people prefer to wear sunglasses during funerals to help conceal their eyes while in distress. If you’re one of those people, it would be best to bring sunglasses. It would also be helpful if the funeral is held outdoors as these can help protect your eyes from the sun.
If the funeral (or a part of it) is held outdoors, it would be beneficial to bring an umbrella. Whether it rains or you need sun protection, umbrellas can protect you from these weather conditions.
It’s also best to have something in your pocket that you can use to sanitize your hands every once in a while when you attend a funeral. Especially since you’re most likely to touch your face if you’re crying, ensuring your hands are clean can help lessen your risk of health complications.
6 Meaningful Gifts to Bring to Someone's Funeral
Besides these items that you can bring to help you as an attendee, as a thoughtful gesture, you can also get a funeral gift to the bereaved to express your sympathies. While these won’t speed up the grieving process, giving the deceased’s loved ones a gift can let them know that you’re there for them at this difficult time.
Here are some memorial gift ideas you can bring to a funeral:
One of the most common gifts is sympathy flowers. You can send a wreath, bouquet, or basket to a funeral location. Take note that these are usually given or brought to the venue before the funeral service begins as gift-giving etiquette.
Some common funeral flowers include lilies, roses, chrysanthemums, and orchids, among others. Most flowers are usually accepted for memorial services unless otherwise stated, or the culture of the deceased does not allow them. Although, the type of flower can also sometimes carry a particular meaning. For example, white flowers, like lilies, can express peace.
Another popular sympathy gift idea is a sympathy card. While it might seem daunting to know the right thing to say to the deceased's family or loved ones, sending a simple message of condolence is more than alright. Sending the bereaved a sympathy card is a heartwarming gesture that lets them know you are thinking about them during this tough time.
You can also send charitable donations in memory of the deceased as a memorial gift. In fact, some families might prefer this and have a particular charity in mind that attendees could donate to. If there's none, in particular, you can choose your own charity.
One idea is to donate to a charity aligned with what the deceased may have supported in the past or what the dead may have died from. For example, if they passed away due to an illness, you can support a charity that helps patients with the same disease.
Another one you can bring is a gift of food. Whether these are food gift baskets or homemade dishes the bereaved can take home, they would certainly appreciate these. Usually, during the time of mourning, it's difficult for the bereaved to work on other tasks like cooking, so it's a big help to get a little off their shoulders.
Lastly, if you're particularly close to the bereaved, you can give a photo album, a framed photo, or a scrapbook photo as keepsakes for the deceased's loved ones. These items can help celebrate the deceased's life and allow their loved ones to revisit the happy memories you have of them. Some families even choose to display these photos during the funeral service itself.
Charcoal Portrait Painting
There are a few reasons why charcoal portrait paintings might be given as funeral gifts. One possibility is that the bereaved might have been close to the person who died, and they might want a physical representation of that person to remember them by. In this case, the painting could be seen as a kind of keepsake or memento.
Another possibility is that the painting might be seen as a way to commemorate the life of the person who died. The use of charcoal can give portraits an air of gravitas and solemnity, which might be fitting for a funeral setting. Finally, it's also possible that giving a charcoal portrait painting as a funeral gift could be seen as an act of kindness or compassion.
What Should You Not Bring to a Funeral?
Now that you've gone through the things you're encouraged to bring to a funeral, it's helpful to also go through the items you shouldn't bring.
First, you should avoid bringing gadgets you won't need during a funeral. A funeral is a solemn event, so you shouldn't use devices like a game console during this time.
Others usually say that you should leave your cell phone behind, but given that it would be essential to communicate with others, it's understandable that you bring it with you. As an etiquette, remember to put your phone in silent mode to not to cause any distractions and lessen your phone usage during the funeral or memorial services unless needed.
Another thing you should leave behind is an expensive gift. When thinking of a gift to bring, remember that you intend to express your sympathy to the people they left behind. Getting expensive gifts can distract people from the ceremony and make the bereaved uncomfortable.
2 Important Factors to Consider When Choosing What to Bring to Funeral
After reading the various gift ideas, if you're still unsure which one to bring, here are some factors that you can consider:
One of the first things you should consider is the culture or religious background of the deceased and their family - you shouldn't bring anything that's considered inappropriate to them. For example, while flowers may be common funeral gifts to others, bringing them to a Jewish funeral is considered inappropriate. In cases like these, you can look at alternative gifts, like food or donations, instead.
Another factor you should consider is what the bereaved's family or loved ones want or need. For example, if a food basket can help the family the most during this difficult time, then go for that gift option. On the other hand, if you know they would appreciate gathering more photos of the deceased, then finding pictures of your friend might be the best option.
3 Tips to Remember in Giving Memorial Gifts to Funerals
Keep It simple
Again, it's encouraged to keep your gift on the less expensive side and just keep it simple. No matter how small it might seem to you, giving something would make it a cherished gift.
Consider the Best Time to Give Your Gift
Think of when it would be appropriate to send your gift. For example, as previously mentioned, flowers are usually given before the funeral service starts. However, if you're planning to give a gift basket that the bereaved might not be able to carry around, you can give it after the service.
Express Your Sympathies as You Hand Out Your Gift
Instead of just handing over your gift to the bereaved, it's best to express your condolences as well. You can say something simple like "I am so sorry for your loss" or even just be there if the bereaved want to tell something or share stories.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bringing Gifts to a Funeral
Is It Required to Bring a Gift to a Funeral?
It's optional to bring gifts. However, it is one of the best ways to express your sympathy, so if you could, it's undoubtedly welcomed as long as certain factors are considered.
What’s an Alternative to Giving Gifts?
If you can't bring gifts, you can do other things for the deceased's loved ones. For example, you can volunteer time to help at their house by assisting them in cooking, cleaning, groceries, or other tasks.
Can I Still Send Gifts After the Funeral?
Yes - in fact, it's sometimes better to give certain gifts a week or two after the funeral once the bereaved are no longer too busy. For example, if you plan on bringing other customizable gifts that you think they wouldn't be able to take around during the funeral, you can bring them to their house or have them delivered.
Learn More About Funerals and What to Bring With Memorialize Art
If you want to learn more about funerals and what other gifts you can bring to the funeral or even after, check out Memorialize Art. You can find a personalized gift or artwork that you can give to grieving loved ones with their help.