When you learn about the death of a loved one or an acquaintance, it's important to reach out to the intermediate family and express your condolences. The best way to do this is through a letter of condolence. No, this is not a Facebook message, this is a handwritten letter that is dropped in a mailbox. The core point of this is that you have a sincere, honest message that lets them know that you think about them and that you're sorry for them.
Historically, people also sent flowers because it helps to mask the odor of death and the not so perfect embalming process. Today, people send flowers because it's a sign of respect, sometimes though, people find it's a waste of money if they have too many flowers and in that case, what's always appropriate is to have a donation for the deceased favorite charity.
Sometimes, they have little cards at the visitation or at the funeral service where you can donate the money. It's really important to never send flowers if the deceased is Jewish and if you want to learn more about Jewish traditions, Buddhist traditions, Orthodox traditions or Muslim traditions, please check out our in depth guide about funeral etiquette on our website.
The next step is the funeral or memorial service, it's always a funeral service if there's a body and a coffin. If that's not present, it's called memorial service. This can also be the case if the body was cremated, we talk about memorial service, not a funeral service. The traditional funeral service is slowly but surely becoming extinct and it's often substituted with a celebration of the person's life and it always depends on what the deceased would have wanted or what he wished for. This event is not about you, attend the service, converse, talk to the family and leave.
At the service, you want to be respectful at all times. It's a tradition at a funeral to have a eulogy which is a heartfelt tribute to the deceased. If you're asked to give a eulogy, you should think about how to talk about the person in a complimentary and dignified way. This is about showing your last respect to a person, maybe shared memories or things that made him a great person.
Now one of the components of respect, especially at a funeral is dress code. Never wear jeans or a golf shirt, like slacks, shorts or anything of that kind for a funeral. It's simply disrespectful towards the deceased.
If the death occurred in your family, it is important to acknowledge the heartfelt sympathies in the cards you got. You want to tell people that you are thankful that they thought of you and again, it is best to express with a thank you card. A funeral is a very sad event and it is important to support the family, that you are subdued, you understand it's not about you but about the family and the ones who are left behind and so you have to do your best to support them and to show your respect and dignity.