Funerals are an occasion for close family and friends to gather and reminisce and honor the passing of a loved one.  They are also an occasion for family and friends who rarely see each other to gather and get caught up on what is happening in their lives.  Families that are spread out around the country or even around the world often use these occasions as informal family gatherings.

Funerals are unique gatherings in that formal invitations are very rarely sent out. Information about when and where the service will take place are placed in the newspaper, given out through phone calls or word of mouth, or posted on social.  Most funerals are open for anyone who wants to attend, usually those individuals who either knew the deceased or know members of the family.

Guest List

In order to make it easier for your family to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to attend your own funeral it is a good idea to make up a guest list before you pass away.  Following a death, family members must make any wide variety of decisions, all while dealing with their own grief.  Consequently, not everyone who should be notified of a death always receives the information in a timely manner.  It often happens where an individual who would have attended the funeral did not find out of the passing until after the funeral has already taken place.  If you do not want this to happen at your own funeral, then creating a guest list is an excellent idea.

Create a list of names, including phone numbers or email addresses of the people you would like to have invited.  Identify point people from each area of your life (for example extended family, work, church, volunteer organizations, sports groups, etc.) who can pass the word along to others in that area.  Give the list to a family member (or multiple family members) that he or she can hang on to until the day it is needed.

How to Deal with Difficult Relationships during a Funeral

Having a complex or difficult relationship with an individual, including close family members, is an often-told story.  It is difficult to decide just who should attend a funeral.  If you are involved in one of these difficult relationships then here are some ideas on whether you should attend the funeral or not.

Break-ups, Divorces, and Remarriages

When a former spouse dies, it is typical to experience very mixed feelings.  This is especially true if you have children together. You may want to attend the funeral, but you do not want your presence to cause the family any discomfort.  Play it by ear and follow your instincts.  Let your children go with someone else if you truly are not comfortable attending yourself.  If you are concerned about creating an uncomfortable situation but definitely want to attend, then you can always enter quietly and sit towards the back. In the end, make the choice that you feel is best for you and the family.  Just please keep the immediate family in mind when you make your decision regarding whether or not you will attend the service.

Family Rifts

Funerals are often an excellent opportunity to reach out to estranged family members and provide an opportunity to move past whatever caused the rift to begin with. Funerals provide the chance for families to get together, move past their own feelings, and honor the deceased. Unless you are concerned about creating a disturbance at the funeral, reach out and invite those individuals. Life is really too short to hang on to our petty grievances.

Reasons to Attend a Funeral

4 reasons to attend a funeral:

  • You are a close friend or family member of the deceased.
  • You are close friend with the family of the deceased.
  • You simply want to honor the deceased even if you were not especially close.
  • You want to support the deceased’s family with your presence.

Reasons to Not Attend a Funeral

3 reasons to not attend a funeral:

  • The deceased’s immediate family would be distracted with your presence.
  • Your presence would upset the family.
  • The services are not open to the public.

Final Thought

Funerals provide an opportunity for family and friends to gather and honor the loved one who has passed away.  The focus should always be on the deceased’s family.  This is a time for everyone to put aside their own needs and provide support for those who are grieving the loss of a family member.