Funerals are a way for family members and close friends to commemorate a loved one who has passed on. It is generally a very emotional occasion in which people may be crying, quiet, or perhaps even angry. While the time and location may be published and anyone can attend, it doesn't always mean that you should go just because you knew the person. Unless you are a family member, a close friend of the deceased, or a close friend of a family member, it might be best if you just sent flowers instead. However, if you are going to be attending, there are a few unwritten rules of etiquette you should follow.
Many people feel it is inappropriate to wear bright colors or flashy patterns, instead they opt for business casual attire. However, consider the deceased and the family. If you know they want a lighter atmosphere and would prefer to make it a celebration of the person's life, go ahead and wear something fun and casual. If you are not sure of what will be considered proper, contact a family member and ask them. While they may be in mourning, they will appreciate you taking the time to consider their wishes.
What to Say
Regardless of any problems you may have had with the deceased or a member of their family, now is not the time to air them. Follow the adage: "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." When speaking with the grieving family, a simple "I am sorry for your loss" will do. While this may seem redundant since everyone will be saying it or something very similar, there is really nothing you can say that will help ease their pain. Just knowing you are there is important.
If there is a religious portion to the funeral that is different from your beliefs, you do not need to actively participate. However, you do need to remain quiet and respectful. Remember, this is not a time to make a stand or try to convert anyone. You are there to show respect. If you cannot do this, quietly leave the area until the service is over.
Death is inevitable. However, a life should be celebrated and remembered. There will also be people left behind who will be greatly affected by the loss. Consider the living while remembering the dead. Go ahead and share times you had together, just be sure your memories won't mar someone else's memories.