How to Prepare Yourself for a Funeral

It’s a good idea to spend some time preparing yourself for the funeral mentally, emotionally, and physically.

If you will be participating in the service

If you will be participating in the service, you may want to practice your role before the actual service. If you will delivering a eulogy or reading, or performing a song or a piece of music, you may want to practice your piece to prepare for the feelings that will come when you deliver the speech or music at the funeral. 

Preparing to greet people at the funeral

If there will be a lot of people in attendance at the funeral or only a small group, you should be prepared to say hello to people and respond to people’s condolences. While you may want to have long conversations with some people, with others you may simply want to thank them for coming, and this is perfectly acceptable. You are also not expected to have a conversation with everyone in attendance. If you are expecting a large turnout, consider setting out guestbook that people can sign so that you can know who was in attendance.

Preparing to hear inappropriate or awkward condolences

While most people mean well, not everyone knows how to express condolences well. Be prepared for people to say things that may feel awkward, insensitive, or self-absorbed. While you may have the impulse to respond harshly to people who say inappropriate things to you, try to remember that everyone is struggling with the loss. It may be best to simply thank those people for attending the service and walk away.

You may also find many people offering the same words of sympathy. It’s helpful to remember that many people have trouble finding the words to express how they feel. Just because someone expresses a cliché doesn’t mean they don’t care deeply.

Preparing for uncomfortable questions or conversations

Depending on the circumstances of the death, long-standing family complexities, or other difficult issues, there’s a chance that people will try to engage you in uncomfortable or inappropriate conversations. As with awkward or inappropriate condolences, you should feel free to decline to participate in these conversations. Telling someone that you don’t want to talk about the issue is sufficient, and you can simply thank the person for attending the funeral.

Figuring out what to wear to the funeral

When figuring out what to wear to the funeral, remember that no one will be judging you based on your appearance; everyone will understand the situation you’re in and people will be attending the funeral to support you, not to judge you. That said, the decision of what to wear to a funeral can take on tremendous personal importance, and for many can become the focal point of much anxiety. If you need to purchase an outfit or have an outfit dry cleaned, consider delegating these tasks to a friend. If you’d like to go shopping for a new outfit, consider bringing a friend or family member along for support and comfort. For tips on what to wear to a funeral, see our article on What to Wear to a Funeral.

Grooming for the funeral

If you are concerned with your appearance at the funeral, consider getting a haircut, shave, or manicure before the service. These are things you can do with friends or family members, and can be a good way to spend time together before the funeral. As there may be “downtime” between the funeral planning and the service itself, getting a haircut, shave, or manicure can also feel like a productive way to spend that downtime.

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