Memorial services...

My advisor/boss has passed away, after a long battle with lymphoma. He was only 51. :frowning:

I’ve only been in his group for a year and never met his family, but his memorial service is announced in the newspaper obituary. It wouldn’t be inappropriate for me to go, would it?

I’ve never been to a memorial service in the US. What do I need to wear? Am I supposed to bring anything? Anything else I need to know? It’s at a Presbyterian church, if that matters.

Generally speaking, you would wear the same clothes you’d wear to a traditional funeral. Work attire is fine. You don’t need to bring anything, but you may want to consider giving to the Lymphoma Foundation or some other cause the family would like to see funds going to, if you’re interested.

I’d like to reiterate that it’s not only appropriate for you to go, but the family will also probably be very touched that someone from work came to the service. I know it meant a lot to me that so many of my dad’s former colleagues came to his memorial.

Thanks. By “work attire” I presume you mean shirt and subdued tie? (My work attire is usually khaki pants and short-sleeve shirt, no tie.)

I also say ‘go’. If you are sincerely wishing to honour his memory, you belong there as much as family. I would say wear dark trousers, a white shirt and dark tie, and a dark coat (sport or suit). You don’t need to bring anything, but a sympathy card for the widow would be a nice touch.

Well, there are two schools of thought on this. Modern funerals…good gawd. I’ve seen everything from cutoffs and tennis shoes to black dresses and veils. If you’re a work colleague and you’re coming straight from the office, the khaki pants and short-sleeved shirt would be fine. Maybe throw in a jacket for good measure. I personally lean toward the more dressy garb, but I’m almost 50 and that’s the way it was done when I was younger.

I must respectfully disagree with you here. I don’t think khakis and a short-sleeved shirt would be fine at any memorial service - I would consider it disrespectful for someone to show up dressed like that. The reason we dress up for funerals and memorial services is to show that we will take the time and effort to recognize the event of the funeral or memorial, not just show up in whatever happened to be clean that day. The widow of the deceased will probably also be of the same school of thought as you, Kalhoun, and would not appreciate casually-dressed people at her husband’s memorial.

I’ve been to funerals where people showed up in work uniforms. Not a biggie especially since people may have to go back to work right after. I’ll agree shorts, tank tops, tshirts and such are not all appropriate. Then again, I have brought in a suit to work before, changed into it, gone to a funeral then changed back into my usual work clothes (we don’t have to do the suit and tie thing unless what’s going on that particular day requires it) afterward. I wouldn’t be upset if somebody showed up in work clothes if they did not have the opportunity to change though. The fact that the person or persons wanted to honor the deceased and show support for the bereaved is more important.

I personally wouldn’t do it, but as I said, the rules have relaxed in recent decades. My in-laws have hosted five funerals in the last fifteen years, and the attendees of those funerals, as well as those of other funerals going on at the same time, I’ll bet a third of them were dressed “business casual”. Me? I do a dress and heels if the weather permits, black slacks and heels in the winter, and I wouldn’t dream of wearing a running suit (as some of the attendees at our nephew’s funeral wore). But I certainly wouldn’t be offended if someone showed up in neat “business casual” attire.

Another thing to consider is that a lot of people don’t own suits! But if you can’t come up with at least business casual, you’re probably better off sending a card and flowers and skipping the personal appearance.

Kalhoun and Swampbear, I can see what you’re saying, but I still disagree. In my opinion, if you can make the effort to come to a funeral or memorial service, you can make make an effort to dress appropriately. A work uniform would be different than simply business casual - if you choose your own clothes, just choose funeral clothes for that day.

This might also be a cultural thing - I was raised not to walk over graves, either, as a sign of respect for the deceased.

OMFG This kind of statement riles me up. You go to a memorial service to REMEMBER the deceased and SHARE your GRIEF and LOSS.

The greatest thing you can give a grieving person is your caring presence. If they really care what you’re wearing, I feel sorry for them, and not because someone dear to them just died.

See? There you go. The new school thinks anything is fine because it’s the thought that counts. I disagree, although I don’t think a suit is required if you don’t have one or it isn’t possible to wear one.

At our nephew’s funeral, I’m surprised I didn’t see people in bare feet. He was young and the rules for that crowd are apparently more relaxed. There’s no figuring.

I am firmly in this camp as well.

My daily wardrobe contains nothing that is appropriate for funerals or other serious occasions. I’m self-employed, work at home, and don’t meet with clients, so my “business” clothes are on the order of bathrobe and bunny slippers. All of my dressy clothes are way too obnoxious for such an event, because that’s my personal style. My solution has been to keep ONE appropriate garment in the closet – something conservative in color and style but that I would also wear otherwise, so it doesn’t “go to waste” on funerals only. My last “funeral dress” (and by my personal rules a funeral calls for a dress, nylons, the whole bit) lasted about 8 years before I decided that it had “made the rounds” among friends and family and was due for retirement. A few weeks ago there was a suicide in the family, and among other things Mr. S and I bought new clothes for the funeral – my new skirt/top set, and a suit for him because he’s lost weight since the last time he wore one and his old suits don’t fit anymore.

We were the most formally dressed people at the service, and we didn’t even know the deceased. We were both just raised like featherlou – a funeral is a formal occasion and calls for a certain standard of dress. You can “REMEMBER the deceased and SHARE your GRIEF and LOSS” AND be dressed respectfully. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. And, IMHO, they are BOTH important.

I agree that people should have one outfit that works for weddings and funerals. But many don’t. I don’t think the fact that you only have khakis and hard shoes should keep you from attending a funeral, but yes…people should make the effort to have a dressy outfit.

I just googled “funeral dress etiquette” and most said subdued colors and “respectful” dress (which leaves it open to interpretation). One funeral home said that it’s not what you wear but that you are there. I think everyone has their own standard…but the only thing that is unacceptable is jeans and t-shirts, though I guarantee if you go to enough of these things, you’ll find that some people will go ahead and wear them anyway.

I was responding to the person that said “if you can’t be dressed to a fairly formal standard, you shouldn’t attend.” I think that’s outrageous.

I agree that you should always dress to the best of your ability. However, if for some reason you cannot be dressed to a certain level of formailty (like you do not own and cannot afford a suit) I do not think you should avoid the event. You should dress in the formalest clothes you have (dark jeans and a plain shirt come to mind) and attend in order to remember the deceased.

The idea that you should keep away and not share in remembering someone because you cannot fit in is distessing to me.

Thanks for the varying opinions. This memorial service is at 7pm so I should have time to go home and put on a suit.

featherlou personally, I would not attend a funeral in anything less than a black suit, white shirt, black tie and black leather dress shoes. As you were, I was also raised that way. However, I have no problem with people showing up in work clothes and such because these people may have stopped work long enough to attend the funeral. There were people dressed in work uniforms at my father’s funeral last year. What was appreciated was their desire to come and honor my father and to offer condolences to my mother, sister, brothers and me. I do draw the line at shorts, jeans, tshirts, halter tops, sneakers, flip flops, muumuus and the like. I agree an effort should be made but if the only way you’re going to make it to the service is to come right from work in uniform then I want you to come on anyway. Again, I’d be mortified to show up in anything less than full suit and tie but that’s because I was raised that way and somehow my mother had it genetically stamped in me or something like that.

Gosh, clothes are much more a hot topic than I ever realized before I joined this board.

I am firmly in the “dress as nice as you can, then don’t worry about it” camp. Certainly don’t skip the service if you can’t dress up. I bet the majority of the men there will be wearing kahkis and button down shirts, with and without ties. Fewer will wear suits, if it is anything like my experience.

As to behavior, don’t bring anything, but send a card. They (and your presence) will be appreciated more than you know. If you get a chance, talk to the family. All you need to say is “Hi, I am Ken. I worked with X. I am sorry for your loss. He was a wonderful boss.” However, if they are surrounded, don’t sweat it. Sign the register, if they have one. Bow your head during any prayers. Avert your gaze from anyone who is crying, so as to give them some psychological space (unless you are talking to them, obviously). If it is an open casket funeral, you can go to the front to say goodbye, but you don’t have to. Some people like to do that, but not everyone does.

Sorry if this is all stuff you know. I just thought I would pretend you have never been in public.

I agree with this on the surface, but it annoys the HELL out of me that people don’t get the appropriate clothes for these things in the first place. My kid is always broke, but he managed to buy a second hand suit to wear to funerals. I think it harkens back to the relaxed rules.