A funeral service is open to the public, unless the family of the deceased request that it be a private ceremony. When attending a funeral, dress sombrely. Men should wear a dark suit with a white shirt and dark tie. Women might choose not to wear black, but should opt for similarly subdued colours and simple, clean lines. If a hat is worn, it should not draw attention to the wearer. Dress with an eye to the weather, remembering that churches and cemeteries can be cold, even in the height of summer.
The practical elements of a funeral can vary according to local tradition and the family’s desires. Often the mourners take their place in the church before the coffin is brought in, which is followed by close family. In a crematorium the mourners may follow the family into the building, after the coffin. Whatever the venue, the front right-hand seats are reserved for the family, with the chief mourner sitting on the end of the front row, nearest the coffin.
Follow requests regarding funeral flowers carefully – many families specify that flowers should not be sent, or that a charitable donation is preferred. Where flowers are appropriate, choose a tasteful spray or a wreath. Pure white is considered the most fitting colour, though sending particular flowers that are known to have been a favourite of the deceased is a touching personal gesture. The accompanying card should be addressed to the deceased, not the family, and should bear a message of memorial, not of sympathy. The classic message reads ‘In loving memory’. Flowers should be sent directly to the undertaker.