A coworker once gave me some simple advice that I’ll never forget:
You may regret not going to a funeral or wake, but you’ll never regret going to one.
Remember this advice. You will need it, because you will rarely be eager to attend a funeral. You’ll avoid it. You’ll find excuses not to go.
But you’ll never regret going.
The great thing about funerals (I can’t believe I just wrote that) is that they’re one of the few settings where it’s the thought that counts, literally. If you simply make an appearance, express your sympathies, view the casket, and then leave, that means the world to the person (the living person, not the dead one. The dead one probably doesn’t care).
If you’re worried about what you should say at a wake to a person who is grieving, here’s a tip: Ask for memories. It can be so cathartic for someone to talk about their loved one, to tell a story or two. Give them permission to do so. Asking a question and then listening is such a gift.
Hopefully no one associated with you will pass away this December. But if they do, go to the funeral. Trust me on this one.