After you've been to several funerals, you'll typically have a good idea of how they take place and what you need to do when you attend. However, you might eventually find yourself planning to attend a funeral of someone who was active in a different culture. It's important to realize that this funeral might not proceed in a manner in which you expect. To avoid feeling embarrassed or standing out, it's advantageous to get in touch with someone who will be attending the funeral and is familiar with the culture in question. Here are some questions about the funeral that you should ask:
What Should I Wear?
Not every culture views attire at funerals in the same manner. For example, while wearing black is traditional in Western culture, traditions have eased off over the years and you won't often be frowned upon if you don't wear black. However, there are cultures that mind find it inappropriate if you were to show up wearing what you might otherwise wear to a Western funeral. Asking someone what you should wear will help you to avoid the panic that you'd feel upon walking into the funeral home and seeing that no one is dressed like you. If you'll be attending the funeral service with members of your family, it's a good idea to also ask how people of their genders and ages will typically dress.
Are Offerings Appropriate?
In some cultures, funeral attendees will arrive with flowers, financial offerings, sympathy cards, and other similar items. You might plan to take one or more of the above items to the funeral home, but you should always check to see if doing so is accepted within the culture. Some cultures may not feel that arriving at the funeral service with such gifts is appropriate, so you'll want to clarify this detail in advance.
What Should I Expect?
There's no harm in asking an informed individual about what to expect at the funeral. This conversation can help you to understand how the service will proceed, which can make you feel a little less anxious from the start of the event through its conclusion. For example, some cultures may ring bells or use a gong at a certain point in the service — when you're alerted to the fact that this element may take place, you'll be less apt to get startled upon hearing such a sudden noise.
Contact local funeral services for more information and assistance.