At Sunset View Cemetery & Mortuary, we have heard many questions from the El Cerrito, Richmond, and Pinole communities about what is appropriate to wear and say at a funeral. Everyone is different, and each person’s life can be celebrated in a unique manner. It’s a big reason why we provide personalized funeral services for families to explore in planning.
For some, a traditional funeral complete with black or dark coloring is desired and appropriate for the life that was lived. For others, this conservative memorial might seem too somber or unfitting. There are countless ways to remember a loved one, and it is important to find out exactly what’s expected for that particular service.
If the deceased was bubbly and constantly smiling, perhaps bright clothing and colorful flowers or balloons might be a fitting tribute to someone who was also bright and imaginative in life. We often hear families from Oakland, Berkeley, and El Sobrante say, “She would have wanted everyone lighthearted and celebrating, not crying.” Adding color to a service is an appropriate and acceptable way to memorialize a cheerful person, creating a “celebration of life” atmosphere rather than “mourning a death.”
Similarly, if a child dies, their school often holds a ceremony or service open to the students. Classmates are commonly told to wear bright colors to make the youth feel comfortable and not intimidated by death.
We would advise you not to call the family during such a difficult time and bother them with questions about dress. Our staff can tell you what the family has requested, or the family may include that information on their loved one’s obituary or post it to Facebook. Generally, though, there are no strict dress codes in church, in most restaurants, and at most social functions. So, don’t worry. The most important thing is being present for the bereaved.
For what you can say to the bereaved at a funeral, it is always appropriate to speak from the heart. Some find it hard to know what to say, so try collecting your thoughts ahead of time, thinking of a good memory or story to share. There may be many people in attendance, so if time is limited, expressing your sympathy, love, and support is best. Remember your presence for them at such a difficult time will be comforting, so even saying simply, but kind words, such as “My thoughts and prayers are with you,” will be welcomed and appreciated.
If you are seeking help for your friend who is grieving after the service is over, we have aftercare resources we provide for those individuals who need additional support. Our care does not stop when the funeral ends, and we have an interactive grief support video to guide you or your friend when it’s convenient.
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