What to Bring to a Funeral or Memorial Service

What to Bring to a Funeral or Memorial Service

Attending a funeral or memorial service is an emotionally charged experience for everyone involved, no matter your relation to the deceased. Whether you are a close family member of the deceased, a friend, or simply a neighbor, you’ll very likely find yourself affected and in an emotional state. 

Figuring out what would be appropriate to bring to the grieving family to express your sympathy and condolences during this emotionally challenging time can be difficult. Ultimately, being there for the mourning family, through your presence and show of support are the most meaningful things you can bring to a funeral or memorial service. However, as part of a thoughtful gesture, you may consider bringing small gifts like flowers, a sympathy card, a donation, photographs or other items to express your sentiments during this somber occasion.

We have created the guide below to help ease this process and as well as offer ideas of different ways in which you can show your sympathy and compassion to grieving loved ones.  

Should I Bring a Gift or Money to a Funeral Reception? 

There are a variety of factors that impact what would be suitable for you to bring to a funeral service such as, for example, your relationship to the deceased. If you are part of the immediate family, you’ll very likely be in charge of managing the guest book, bringing videos or photos of the deceased, or perhaps arranging appetizers for the guests. If your relationship with the deceased was that of a friend or acquaintance, you may consider taking a small gift to express your condolences. 

Unless you are more intimately related to the grieving family, you will want to avoid bringing money or a financial donation. However, you may consider money in the form of donations or monetary aid if it is necessary for the grieving family to help cover the funeral expenses, or if it was requested to provide this aid in place of flowers.

Also, if the grieving family observes a particular religion or culture, the traditions or customs they follow in accordance with the religion may influence what is suitable to bring to the memorial or funeral service. For instance, for a memorial service being observed by a Jewish family, it is appropriate to bring food baskets or food trays. In the Jewish religion, a grieving family sits shiva in honor of the deceased, and will abstain from cooking and preparing their own meals during this time, so gifts of food baskets or food trays are especially appreciated.

What Kind of Gifts Can You Take to a Funeral Service?

If you are asking yourself what is considered an appropriate gift to bring for a funeral service, here are some of our top recommendations. Remember again, every funeral is different and the grieving family’s particular traditions must be taken into consideration.

Funeral Flowers 

Flowers remain one of the most popular items to bring for this type of occasion. As long as the flowers you bring waver in the direction of more discrete and simple in their styling, they are a good choice as they appeal to people’s emotions with their timeless beauty. They should remain within the line of modesty, not causing any disturbances among other attendees when you arrive, or taking the focus off the grieving family. 

Flowers serve as a meaningful symbol of serenity and sympathy, making them a thoughtful choice to express your love and compassion for the mourning family. In regards to the types of flowers you may choose to bring to the funeral service, consider more subdued or pastel-colored ones. Lilies are a common choice for this type of occasion with their quiet elegance.

It is usually preferred to send flowers before the reception has started or before guests have arrived. You may also choose to send flowers to the grieving family’s residence instead of the funeral home as well. Always consult with the funeral home as well as review the family’s guidelines or recommendations on their funeral service website to avoid making any improprieties or discretions and ensure that you are abiding by the funeral home’s rules.

Sympathy Cards 

A sympathy card is always a good way to express your words of condolences. As the other guests also want time with the grieving family during the service to show their support, it can be difficult to physically be able to express your own words of sympathy. A sympathy card is a wonderful and thoughtful way of letting the grieving family know that you are sorry for their loss, as well as a meaningful reminder even after the funeral is over that you will continue to be with the grieving family in your sentiments. A simple yet loving gesture, a sympathy card shows you appreciation and respect to the grieving family, helping remind them that their loved one will be greatly missed. 

Photographs

Depending on the funeral service and the grieving family’s wishes, it may be appreciated to bring photographs to the service. Photos hold special meaning,  encapsulating memories of happy times with loved ones while they were still alive. During an emotionally difficult occasion such as a funeral service, photographs can bring to mind these positive memories, helping offer comfort and support to the grieving family as well as a sense of closure. If it is appropriate to do so, you may consider bringing a few photographs to the service depicting special times you shared with the deceased and add them to the memorial mural if one is present at the funeral. 

The Bottom Line

The most important thing to keep in mind is that no gift or token will replace the support and comfort you’ll offer your loved ones through your presence, and simply being there for them during this emotionally difficult time. A funeral reception is not the time to bring gifts that will detract from the grieving family or the solemn nature of the occasion, such as those that are luxurious or extravagant. Remember, anything you should bring should be more simple and discrete to properly honor the memory of the deceased and pay your respects to the grieving family.

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