Should I or Shouldn’t I Go to the Funeral?
Historically, formal invitations are not sent out for funeral or memorial services, which can make it hard to know if you should attend or not. Generally, as a rule, if you want to attend the funeral or memorial service, and the event is open to guests, then you can and should go.
Why should you attend a funeral or memorial service?
Attending a funeral or memorial service is a way of showing support for the family members of the deceased, and offers you a chance to grieve and remember the person who died. As a rule, if you feel like you'd like to, or should, attend the service, then it's acceptable to go. Even if you didn't know the person who died, but you have a relationship with a bereaved family member or close friend, then your presence at the service can help them feel supported and cared for. If you're uncomfortable going alone, it’s appropriate to bring a close friend or partner.
Why shouldn’t you attend a funeral or memorial service?
If you think that your presence at a memorial or funeral service would make the bereaved uncomfortable, then you shouldn't attend. There may also be logistical issues in getting to the event which may prevent you from going, or could make the effort to get there inappropriate for the relationship that you had with the deceased person or their family.
If you're unsure as to whether or not you should attend a funeral or memorial service, ask yourself how you will feel about it a year from now. Will you regret not going? Or do you think that when you look back you’ll regret having attended? Thinking ahead will give you insight into how to act in the moment.
What do you do if the funeral or memorial service is out of town?
If the funeral or memorial service is being held out of town or far from where you live, you need to ask yourself whether or not to attend based on the relationship with the deceased and their family members, as well as the difficulty of getting to the service.
If you're close to the person who died, or their family, but may struggle to attend for a variety of reasons including logistical, financial, or personal, it’s appropriate to get in touch with the family and write a letter or send a card expressing your condolences. Letting the grieving family know that you care and send them warm wishes despite not being able to be physically with them during their time of need is important, and will help them during their grieving process.