- “How can I best be a supportive friend?”
2. Don’t: Ask Inappropriate Questions Think carefully about the exact words of comfort you will use to greet those who are grieving. Be prepared. Unless you are a member of the immediate family, avoid asking “How are you feeling?” or “Are you okay?” It shows a lack of foresight and empathy.
- Please accept my deepest sympathy
- Please accept my warmest condolences
- You and your family are in my prayers
- My thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time
- “We will always honor the memory of your brother.”
- “We will cherish our memories of your mother.”
- “We will always think of your grandmother when we bake her famous apple pie.”
5. Do: Dress Respectfully Whether it’s a funeral for someone you know or not, proper attire is de rigueur. Even with other commitments following the funeral, when paying your respects, appropriate clothing is required. Be respectful by dressing conservatively and wearing the appropriate colors based on the deceased family’s religion and culture.
Being in the presence of grief and mourning may cause many to feel out of place and uncomfortable. Attending and being present for the person that just lost someone and is going through an impossible time shows your true character. Integrate these do’s and taboo’s in the event you attend a funeral to make it a better experience for all.
Sharon Schweitzer and Paola Guevara co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.
Paola Guevara is the International Business Manager with Access to Culture. She’s lived in Mexico, France, and different states throughout the US, including California, Florida, and Texas. As a multilingual third-culture kid, Paola’s been exposed to different backgrounds and cultures in both academic and professional environments. She graduated with honors from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas with a major in International Business and a focus in French. Connect with her via LinkedIn.