What to Bring to a Funeral - A Checklist for Mourners

Posted by: Erin Ward in Funeral Planning Resources, Funeral Advice | July 8, 2021
For those who don't often attend funerals, trying to decide what to wear, when to arrive, and how to behave can induce anxiety. It's going to be a sad, stressful occasion, and grieving people often suffer from memory lapses. This is a general list of things to consider bringing to a funeral, for those who need extra help with organization during this time.


Your attendance is your gift in most cases. Arrive on time in an appropriate outfit for the funeral, and make sure to sign the guestbook.

Sympathy Flowers

There are many meaningful reasons to incorporate flowers into a funeral ceremony. Flowers show those experiencing grief that life goes on. They brighten the darkness of a funeral service with color and fragrance. And the gift of flowers shows your condolences wordlessly. However, it is not considered correct etiquette to arrive at a funeral with flowers in hand.

Instead, drop flowers off at the funeral home or church before the service. Or, an even better option is to send flowers, food, or other gifts to the family home. Never send flowers to a Jewish funeral.

Sympathy Card

Depending on the size of the funeral, the family hosting might not have time to interact with each guest. Many families even request no flowers nowadays. It can be challenging to transport them all home if every guest brings a floral arrangement. Consider arriving with a simple card of sympathy instead.
Again, you should mail the card if you know the address of the family home. They are likely to lose track of cards or gifts given the emotional nature of the day.

Memorial Donation or Contribution

If a charitable donation or memorial funds are requested by the family (usually in the obituary), note your contribution discreetly in the card. This is the most polite way to notify the family of your gift.

The Things You Need to Get Through the Service

Is it winter? Bring a warm coat. Will there be a graveside service? Bring an umbrella just in case. Do you always have your cell phone on you? Make sure the volume is all the way off. Do you need an inhaler or other care item? Bring it!

Your job is to be attentive, kind, and sensitive to the needs of other mourners on this day, while also handling your own grief. Set yourself up for success by bringing anything you may need.

Photos or Memories to Share

If you have photos or belongings of the deceased, bring them if there is a wake or reception for guests to share memories. Those in mourning will appreciate these reminders of the deceased person on this hard day. Be ready to part with these items, however, as the family may wish to keep them.

The Takeaway

You don't need to go overboard. Remember that too many gifts will add to the family's burden, rather than lightening it. Funerals are for sharing memories, collective mourning, and paying tribute to the special person who has passed away. Be attentive at the service and the gift of your presence will be appreciated above all else.

1 Comment


Gary McCullough

October 2, 2020

Love you and will miss you my dear good friend, you were truly a one of a kind and the world has lost a true gem of a man. My condolences go out to the family and friends of a great man.

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