Prepare for the Funeral
What does "Get Prepared" really mean?
There's a line in William Shakespeare's play "Henry V", which cuts to the heart of preparedness: "All things are ready, if our mind be so." Readying your mind means strengthening it for what's ahead: all the people, sights, sounds and strong emotions of the day.
In other words, getting ready to attend an end-of-life service is not just a matter of picking out the right clothes to wear; it's also essential to prepare physically, mentally and emotionally for the occasion. After all, you are going to be there to support the bereaved family, as well as the others who attend; and that takes inner strength and emotional fortitude. Never underestimate the importance of your presence there—to everyone in attendance.
To make it simple for you to find the information you need, we've grouped those details together under two headings: Dressing for the Occasion and Getting Physically, Mentally and Emotionally Prepared.
Dressing for the Occasion
What is expected of us when attending a funeral service today is far different from the expectations of those living in the Victorian era. According to Alison Petch, a researcher Oxford University, "In those years, black clothing was worn for the funeral and for a year following the death...by close relatives, gradually being replaced by other dark colors."
As we moved into the twentieth century, the Roman and Victorian demands became less strict. "People attending a funeral wore semi-formal clothing, which for adult men would usually mean a suit and tie in dark colors".
Without a doubt, these strict special dress requirements have fallen by the wayside, at least to some degree. Although many websites proclaim that black is the right color to wear for a funeral today, wearing a color other than black isn't seen as disrespectful; but you want to avoid wearing brightly colored or wildly patterned fabrics (unless actually requested to do so by the family). And for women or girls, a modest appearance is preferred.
Certainly, if you've got additional questions about what to wear to a funeral, call us.
Get Physically, Mentally, and Emotionally Prepared
The death of a loved one is among the most stressful experiences we will ever endure. The early days of bereavement, are a time of frayed nerves, when emotions run high and hours of restful sleep are hard to find. These difficult days are then followed by the funeral service (where, even though you're grief stricken, you're expected to perform with some social grace). How can you possibly survive; or better yet thrive, during such trials as these? Here are some suggestions we believe you'll find valuable.
The tendency when something bad happens to us, like the death of a loved one, is to detach from our physical, emotional and social selves. To "get numb, and stay that way" - but this effort to separate ourselves from what's happening isn't always in our best interest. Instead, you should seek to be "mindful": to keep your awareness on the present moment (not the past, and certainly not the future); all the while acknowledging (and accepting) your feelings, thoughts, and bodily reactions to your loss. Only then can you, in the words of Reinhold Niebuhr's Serenity Prayer, accept the things that cannot be changed, have the courage to change the things which can (and should) be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. Certainly, you cannot change the fact your loved one has died; but you can change (at least to some degree) the way you react to the loss—and that takes a certain sense of mindful self-awareness.
End-of-life ceremonies (whether a "traditional" funeral, memorial service or celebration of life) offer those gathered the chance to share their feelings, tell stories and take comfort from one another. Don't spend too much time talking, unless it's to share something truly meaningful (about the deceased and your relationship to him or her) with others; instead, be ready to listen with a whole heart. This is a time for respectful interactions with other mourners; a time for focusing on the life of the deceased, and also a time for renewing the ties which brought you all together in the first place.
Let us help with your preparations
Who better to turn to for assistance in preparing for a funeral? We've got the experience and insights which could make this situation easier for you and those you love. If you have questions about preparing for a funeral service—either as a member of the family or as a guest—we're here to support you in any way we can. We're standing at the ready; simply call us.