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What To Bring To A Funeral – A Guide

7th April 2016   Advice Funerals Latest News

The day of a funeral can be difficult for many, whether you’re a family member, a friend or an acquaintance, saying goodbye to somebody is never easy. Our funeral directors in Exeter have a wealth of experience helping people through these tough times. We hope with our guide to what to bring to a funeral it will make this difficult time a little easier as it can often be confusing to know if you should bring anything at all..

What to take to a funeral guide infographic

Used to mark the end of a person’s life, family, friends, coworkers and acquaintances of the deceased come together to celebrate their life. Whether the ceremony is large or small, it’s helpful to know the right things bring with you to avoid feeling uncomfortable at any time.


As a family member, losing somebody will probably be the hardest of all. Although there are many factors when it comes to planning the funeral, many can forget to bring certain keepsakes and essentials to keep the day running smoothly and items to commemorate the day.

As a friend

Depending on your relationship with the departed, it’s a good idea to bring something, even if it’s a small gesture to show your support to the family.

As an acquaintance

Even if you were not a close friend of the deceased, it is still nice to pay your respects and show that you support the family and are present to remember the life of the person. Whether the funeral is informal, formal, celebratory or mournful; just showing that you’re thinking of people is enough.

List of things to take with you to a funeral

    • Tissues
      It may seem obvious and although you may not prepare for it, funerals can be very tough to deal with. Dealing with and accepting that a person is really gone can naturally rise emotions, therefore it’s always helpful to bring a packet of tissues or a handkerchief. Even if you feel as though you may be tearful on the day, bringing tissues for yourself or even to hand to somebody else is a kind gesture and shows that you are thinking of others on the difficult day.
    • Photographs
      A photograph at the service and funeral reception is a representation of the life that everybody is here to remember. Whether you want to bring a single standing photograph for people to admire or an entire photograph album for people to look through – it offers a chance for those who loved and knew the deceased to discuss their memories, look back at the happiest times and learn more about their life.
    • A sympathy card
      It’s best not to overwhelm the family before the service, however leaving a sympathy card in a designated area is a way of stating your presence and sharing your condolences and memories of your friend and what they meant to you.
    • Flowers/donation
      Some wish for family flowers only, but if flowers are welcomed by guests, you can drop them off at the funeral home before the service or lay them near to the entrance on the day (there is usually a place for this). Alternatively, you can bring a bunch of flowers as a token for the closest family members at the reception/wake. Instead of flowers, some families will ask for donations to a charity to pay their respects.
    • A story/memory
      A memory of yourself and the deceased to include in the sympathy card or guest book is a great way to remind the family members of your fond thoughts of the deceased which can be a great support to them as they deal with their loss. It can also be therapeutic for you to share your thoughts and to deal with your own grief.
    • A sympathy card
      As a sign of respect, you can express your warmth with a card to remind the family of the deceased that you were present. There’s no harm in introducing yourself, it just reminds the family that their loved one was appreciated by many.
    • An umbrella 
    • If the weather is forecast to be gloomy, it’s wise to carry an umbrella as you may spend quite a bit of time outside before and after the service.
    • Walking shoes
    • Burials in a natural woodland setting are a popular choice for many funeral services. If you’re attending a woodland burial, consider the shoes you’re wearing for comfort and practicality. Walking shoes are best as they’ll tackle any tough spots.
    • A guest book
      The day of a funeral can be a bit of a blur, especially if many people attend. It can be hard to talk to everybody and greet everybody who has arrived for the ceremony, therefore, a guest book can be handed around and other family members, friends and acquaintance can sign their names and perhaps include a memory or message of condolence.

Remember, when signing the guest book as a close friend or an acquaintance, make sure you always write your name and your relationship to the deceased so that the family members are aware. The family may refer to this to send thank you notes after the service.

Should I take food to a funeral?

For many, the sharing of food is a great way of celebrating the life of the deceased together and is always a great comfort after a passing, especially combined with a drink or 2.

Usually, people who are grieving the most don’t want to think about cooking, so as a gesture, consider making a dish to send over to the family. You could ask the organiser in advance if there is catering provided or if you could take some food with you to a funeral wake.

The most important thing to remember during this hard time is that you are not alone in your grieving process, embrace the love of those around you and look back with fondness and happiness.

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