Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Attending the funeral of someone you don't know (well) - supportive or morbid?

This is an issue that I've been struggling with for the last few months, because three of my friends have lost a parent this year.

Even though I'd only met said parent a few times (when I'd known the friend for many years), I went to the funeral because it seemed the best way for me to offer support to the friend. After all, I can't whip up a casserole and I'm really no good at touchy feeling hugging (it's my Chinese upbringing probably).

Surely if they didn't want me to go to their parent's funeral they wouldn't have passed on the details to me? But when I was there I'd felt quite awkward because, unlike those who got up to speak, I had no stories about this person. There was little connecting me to them.

The boy thinks that it's morbid and not really right to go to a funeral unless you know them reasonably well.

But a couple of years ago when one of my workmates lost his dad, our whole office closed up for the afternoon to attend the funeral even though most of us (maybe all of us) had never met the dad. In that case, the colleague seemed genuinely pleased to see us.

I really don't know whether there's some definite protocol about this situation. Is it different depending on the country?


Amanda said...

Supportive- especially if you've worked with the person for years. I know a few of my colleagues have been very appreciative of their co-workers attendance at their parents funerals.

Violet said...

yay! thanks for sharing your view it makes me feel less awkward about the funeral I'm going to tomorrow.

donnasoowho said...

Supportive. Although that said possibly also assess on a case by case basis? Thankfully I've not had much experience with it myself but suspect will in future. And I think it's ok to be quite open about not exactly grieving the person who died because you're there for their child which is an equally valid function as celebrating the life of the deceased.

Btw I went to my cousin's wedding a couple of weeks ago and think I sat next to this lady who lives down the road from your mum! Altho now I can't remember her name.

Christy S said...

It's supportive. When I lost my father a few years ago, one of the things that helped me through the funeral was knowing that I had a friend that had driven down to attend the funeral (never met my parents) there for emotional support. It meant the world to me. I have also attended the funerals of the parents of my friends and they were grateful for the support. To know that you mean enough to your friends that they take time out of their day to attend the funeral of someone who meant the world to you? It means a lot and is never forgotten.

Violet said...

donnasoowho: there are several Chinese families living in my mum's street and they probably know her from her cooking heyday. I wonder which one it was.

thank you all for your comments.It does seem to vary from person to person - two mutual friends didn't want to go, preferring instead to catch up with my friend at a later date (presumably without all the other people around so they could talk properly and in general).

I'm glad I went today. I only attended the service, but have a feeling I would have been quite welcome the burial and after-function too.