Attending an End of Life Celebration
If you've been invited to an end of life celebration event and
aren't sure what to expect, you have good reason. A
celebration-of-life event is as unique as the honoree it reflects,
and for this reason it's difficult to know what to expect when you
are attending one. If the host of the service has special requests
such as wearing the honoree's favorite color or to be prepared with
a special toast, it will likely be communicated in the invitation;
otherwise traditional funeral etiquette should be
followed. We've assembled a few pointers below.
When entering the venue, look for
a guestbook and sign it. While the guest book is a nice
memento for the family, it also serves to help them gather
important information to use later when writing funeral thank-you
Unless you know the family very
well, introduce yourself. Even on a good
day it can be difficult to recall a name or face out of context,
but with emotions intensified it can be even more difficult.
Introduce yourself by saying, "I'm not sure if you remember me, but
I'm Mary Peters and our children go to school together. I was so
sorry to hear about your mother." You can also introduce yourself
to other family members by saying something like "Hi, I'm Mary
Peters and my daughter is in school with Susan's daughter. I was so
sorry to hear about your mother. I've heard many stories about what
a great sense of humor she had."
Wear respectful clothing.
Unless the celebration-of-life invitation indicates a dress code
for the event, it's a good idea to be respectful in what to wear to
a funeral or memorial service.
Expressions of sympathy. It's
hard to know what to say to a grieving friend or how you can show
you are thinking of them. However you choose to express your
sympathy, understand nothing you can do or say will make them feel
better. Expressing your sympathy is a way to let the family know
you are thinking of them. Below are some suggestions on how to
express your sympathy.
Social media, online funeral guest books and email can all be
used when communicating with the grieving family. However, there
are a few things to keep in mind.
Online Memorial Guest Books. Be
sure wherever you are leaving a message for the family they know
it's there or created the guest book. Not all guest books are created by the
family. Some are automatically generated from newspaper obituaries
or the social security index. They may be free at first, but
later a fee is charged to access the messages in them.
Emailing Condolences. While
some may disagree about use of email to express sympathy, Peggy Post, director and
spokesperson for The Emily Post Institute® , says an
email is an immediate way to show you are thinking about the
family, but follow an email with handwritten sympathy messages
and try to attend the visitation.