Funeral advice please!

posted 3 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
135 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

Some of these questions will depend on your FI’s family specifically, i.e how formal/casual they typically are.

Most of the funerals I’ve been to are similar to business casual attire, but funerals within my own family tend to be a bit more formal.  You don’t necessarily have to wear all black IMO.  I think a modest dress or skirt and nice top should be fine.  Ex: black skirt and dark (blue, green, grey, etc) top, maybe with a black or dark grey cardigan.  The last family funeral I went to, I wore a black dress that had a bit of white in it with a black cardigan.  It doesn’t have to be solid black, but somber colors are more respectful.

If you decide to do flowers (or a plant even), I have always seen them delivered by the florist, rather than brought with someone attending.  The florist delivers them to the funeral home and the employees there deal with taking them and setting them up and then transferring some of them to the gravesite.  I do think it would be a nice gesture.

As far as going with or separately from the family, I would do what your fiance wants you to do.  There is typically a time for family only before any attendees arrive.  If he wants you there for your support (which is probably more likely), then go with him.  If he thinks that it would be more respectful for him to spend this time alone with his family, then just arrive at the time they have told everyone else.  His family may or may not opt to use limos for the immediate family transport from the service to the gravesite, and if they do, I would again ask if he would like you to ride with him or drive separately.  I wouldn’t let your feelings be hurt either way, people grieve in many different ways and families have different dynamics.

Also, if they are having a gathering at someone’s house after the funeral, you could offer to make some food to bring for that.

Post # 4
2419 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

I’d be advised by your FI so far as the formalities are concerned. My MIL had a Catholic Mass and we sat in the family pews (DH and I were not married then but had been together for many years and my MIL always called me her daughter in law) alongside my stepchildren. I am not a Catholic so obviously did not take communion. However, the priest invited anyone who wished to be blessed. It may well be that your FI will want you at his side but get this sorted before the funeral. 

My MIL’s service was a fairly simple and traditional requiem Mass. These follow a set pattern. However, you’ll normally have an Order of Service and the priest will also make clear when you are supposed to stand, sit, or whatever. As a non-Catholic you just quietly avoid participation in any elements that you consider irrelevant to you. 

As for the dress code, nowadays (unless advised otherwise) dressing in business clothes that are fairly sober in colour is usually the most acceptable option. You don’t need to be draped in black, however. But then each funeral is different and that’s where you take advice from your FI.

Flowers (if requested since some families prefer no flowers but a donation to a named charity) are usually ordered and delivered directly to the funeral home. It is not usual to turn up bearing a wreath or other sort of floral tribute.

Post # 5
2111 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

@evropawed:  FI isn’t Catholic, but he’s gone to more Catholic funerals with me than I care to think of. Yes, black is typical still. I try to avoid solid black unless I don’t know the deceased very well. For example, at my grandpas funeral, I wore a dress where the bust was purple, but the skirt was black. Often times, I feel like black is too dark when the person was so happy.

At the mass, you don’t need to jump through any hoops. Stand when everyone stands, but you don’t need to kneel or join in any songs or prayers. Don’t do anything you aren’t comfortable with.

As far as going with him or not, that really depends on his family. FIs known mine for 8 years. He’s considered family now. He’s sat with our family, ridden with the family in the caravan to the cemetery. I can’t imagine a situation where he would be with me and my family. The cemetery is different, though. There are fewer seats, and those go mostly toward spouses, siblings, the deceased’s children and their families. I’ve never even been the closest next of kin to sit at the cemetery. FI and I will just stand nearby.

Flowers are lovely. I don’t know if it’s religious or cultural, but our funerals always have a reception at either someone’s home or the church hall. After the burial, we go there and they have food. Sometimes the church women organize and make all the food, other times friends of the family will put together a pot luck. I’ve heard in some places only the family attends, but we’ve always had it open to whoever was at the funeral.

ETA: Are they having a wake/rosary for her the day before? Will y’all be going to that? Normally the immediate family sits together there as well for condolences, those closest in the front. Again, FI would sit with me. We may be in the 3rd row or so, but definitely not in the back.

Post # 6
2562 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: March 2014

Wear modest black clothes
Don’t talk or laugh too much (some people in my family have this problem, SIGH)
Send flowers if you like (you can call the funeral home to reccomend local florists and ask about the protocol, the florist should deliver them – usually a mourning wreath or potted arrangement, the florist will know)
Write out a sympathy card for his family (especially for the parent whose parent is was).

I usually drive seperatley, but that’s because sometimes the family wants to go to the cemetary alone, your FI may be carrying the casket, they want your FI to be in the car with them, or they just can’t handle the logistics of carpooling during their grief.
Plus, being in your own car without mourners is a good break – it can be a bit intense.
The funeral home will guide the line of cars to the cemetary, and you’ll park where they tell you to and walk to the site, usually you’ll stand nearby (if you’re asked to accompany them; they may want to go alone and that’s OK – I find the cemetary to be the hardest part) Don’t wander around while the service is going on.

I don’t know, the funerals I go to are usually in my family (just happens to be that way), and we’re unusual in that we go to lunch afterwards to both celebrate the person’s life and remember to live ours. From what I gather, that doesn’t often happen in other families (I think it’s a cultural thing)
Our masses are usually at the funeral home itself, too. Very rarely we have one in a Catholic church.

Post # 9
11772 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2013

I was just at an Episcopal funeral, which is like Catholic-light.

Nearly everyone wore black (or black with dark accents–think business attire in formality). As a grandchild’s FI, I would sit with the family, but towards the back of the family pews.

We didn’t bring flowers (they asked for donations to be made to a local charity the deceased supported).

Post # 10
1275 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

@evropawed:  wow ….. I could have written this word for word. Seriously. The funeral was today. Here’s what I learned:

1. I was WAY overdressed. WAY WAY WAY. No one else was in all black. Darker colors sure, but one of the (adult) daughters was wearing black slacks and a pink cardigan. Lots of grey. I wore a conservative black dress, a black cardigan, and black tights, and it was too much. I saw lots of navy and brown. Lots of black maxi skirts and grey or dark purple shirts.

2. Don’t assume you get to sit with the family, depending on the size of the place and family. I did get to but we had to shuffle around which was …. awkward. Try to be close to last to sit.

3. There was a wake afterwards across the street where people ate and mingled. It was pretty chipper for the most part.

4. Presently everyone is back at the house getting wasted. Prepare for that. I think it’s weird, but it’s just not how I grew up at all.


we are from rural idaho and it was a non denominational ceremony. I rode with my FI but not with the entire family. I wish I coukd show you a video of everyone right now – so much laughing and dropping the F bomb lol

Post # 12
2082 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

@evropawed:  My FI’s grandmother passed away a couple weeks ago and we had her funeral last week. I had never met her, but went to support my FI and his father. FI and I arrived together and met his parents and brothers there. While his parents walked at the front of the funeral procession I went in the middle, with FI and his brothers, and we all sat together in the church. We did not bring flowers. We then all sat together at the reception afterwards. I had never met his grandmother, but have always been extremely close to his parents and brothers. It was all very natural for me to be there with them, as family. 

Post # 14
2082 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

@evropawed:  Yes he is dealing ok. He was not extremely close to her and since she was pretty old (93) it came as no surprise. Mostly we were all just there for his Dad, who was pretty upset about losing his Mom. The best thing I did for FI was just be there for him and the family. The night after she passed his mother called us and his brothers and said it would mean a lot if we could all come over for a casual dinner to cheer FFIL up a little so we did do that. Just be there for your FI and the family him and follow their lead is the best advice I can give. 

PS. I did wear all black to the funeral. It was an Anglican funeral and I was not out of place. 


Post # 16
2173 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2017

Everyone else has covered pretty much everything, but I just want to add that when my grandfather died, it was the “in-laws” that held everything together.  Basically immediately family sat closest, did alone stuff, whatever, but the in-law aunt and uncles (and future in-laws, and their parents) were the ones running around to make sure that everyone got food, supplied kleenex, made sure the paperwork was filled out, running to get thank you cards…  Obviously they were in pain too, but they were holding everything together for the sake of their spouses and my grandmother.

So I would suggest just trying to make yourself available for any errands that could come up.  Your FI and his family will really appreciate it.

I’m sorry for your loss.

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