Attending a funeral in the summer
Well, what a summer we’re having so far! As we write, we’re in the middle of the end-of-term heatwave and trying to stay cool in the offices here at Austin’s!
We Brits aren’t too accustomed to such hot weather and, when it comes to summer funerals, we can become a bit unsure about traditional customs. So we thought it would be a good idea to put together some thoughts on attending funerals during the balmier months, with some seasonal tips and plenty which are relevant all year round, too.
What to wear to a summer funeral
One of the most common questions people ask is, what should I wear to a summer funeral?
If the weather is anywhere near as hot as it has been recently, then you need to put some planning into your outfit. If you’re in the right clothes on the day, you’ll be able to focus on what matters and the reasons you’re there, rather than worrying about what you’re wearing.
Stay cool: Choose something light, respectful and modest, so make sure shoulders and knees are covered. For men, a smart, short-sleeved shirt is fine and for ladies, skirts and dresses should be at least knee length. There is no need for a full suit in hot weather, but make sure you don’t go too far the other way and appear too casual; avoid flip flops and shorts.
Colour and print: Summer funerals can be tricky because most of our summer clothes tend to be colourful or feature large, summery prints. It may be that the family would like people to wear colour; this is something that is becoming more and more common, [see blog on personalisation] in which case just avoid anything with graphics or slogans, or that is too ‘beachwear’. You don’t want to detract from the focus of the occasion.
If colour has not been specified by the family, it’s not generally expected to wear full black anymore. Go for neutrals that suit lighter materials, such as grey or beige, or possibly white.
Style: Funerals are very personal affairs, so try not to come across in full business attire. Similarly, you don’t want to look like you’re going to a cocktail party, so no off-the-shoulder or body con dresses. Remember, family and close friends can be sensitive on the day, so dress conservatively. (blog on funeral stress]
Footwear: There is generally a lot of walking at a funeral. You may need to park a way away from the service, then there may be a walk to the burial or cremation, and to a wake afterwards. Churchyards can have uneven terrain and there will be a lot of standing and talking to people, so choose wisely!
Check the weather forecast a few days in advance and decide on your outfit. Then check for any stains, marks, loose buttons etc, that need attention. And don’t forget your shoes; do they need a clean?
What to take to a summer funeral
Once your outfit is sorted, it’s time to make sure you have everything you need with you.
While there are a few things to remember, try not to take a really big bag as it will just get in the way.
You may need:
Tissues – for you and others that you can offer around.
Sunglasses – essential in this weather!
Water – the hot weather can play havoc with tickly coughs, so it’s helpful to have some water at hand, especially during the service.
Cereal bar – funerals can be stressful and emotionally draining that we can forget to eat. Having a small snack in your bag is a good idea in case someone is in need.
Painkillers – we all know a good cry can bring on a headache, but with the hot weather as well, make sure you have something to keep it at bay.
Make-up wipe – Again, tears can play havoc with eye make-up. You or someone near you might be very grateful for a quick wipe!
Money – It’s a good idea to carry some cash in case there is a donation box or collection.
What to do on the day of a funeral
Arrive in good time. There is nothing more stressful than being late. You need to factor in finding somewhere to park and traffic depending on the time of day.
Know where to sit. As a general rule, the first few rows are reserved for family and close friends.
Put your phone on silent. Obvious, we know, but so easily forgotten.
Go and see the family. There is usually a lot going on before the funeral starts, but do go and speak to the family afterwards or when you arrive at the wake, to offer your condolences. If you find it hard, talk to them about a memory you have of the person who has passed away, or ask if there is anything you can do for them.
If you’re still unsure about any aspect of the funeral you’re attending, you could always ask a member of the family or someone close to them. They’ll be grateful for your attendance, as a full church is always of great comfort to any family who has lost a loved one. Or speak to the funeral director; we’re always here to help with all of our funerals here at Austin’s.