Management Tactic #37: Funerals

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.

7 thoughts on “Management Tactic #37: Funerals”

  1. very odd topic to think about in Dec however if I were you — and you were the guy in the picture, going to a funeral could prove rewarding. But seriously if you knew someone was near the end their life on earth (illness or age), it would be best to visit the living than the bereaved. It is best to say the good things while the person is still here, having no regrets. But I agree you can never go wrong for yourself by going to a funeral.

  2. I agree. It’s so important to say everything you want to say to a family member or friend while they are still living, especially if they are sick or near to death. You’ll never get another chance to do so, so those moments are absolutely priceless. The most important thing to do is to comfort that person and let them know that you are there. Keeping them comfortable and surrounded by love is the only thing that matters during that time.

    Unfortunately I know this firsthand, and it did happen in December, so that’s why I’m thinking about it … but I can honestly say that when someone passes away, it’s such a comfort to those who are still here to see everyone at the funeral home. It doesn’t matter if all they do is give you a hug and not say a word – it’s really the thought that counts, just like you said, Jamey. The feeling of support and encouragement that you receive from the visitors is irreplaceable. It may not seem like much to them, but trust me – it truly is a help and a great comfort. And, it’s such a sign of respect and love for the person who passed away – and that’s a great feeling to know that that person made such a difference in so many people’s lives while they were still here.

  3. I’ve only had one friend die, and no close family. So I can’t say what it feels like to be at the front of the receiving line at a Funeral Home. I would be really hurt if there were only a few people there. But I also think I would be hurt if someone I hadn’t known/heard of stopped by. I’m afraid it would take the specialness away to have a stranger tell you something about your loved one.

    The song “If tomorrow never comes,” is about telling people what they mean to you while you have the opprotunity. It’s important to let those you care about know regularly, because people disappear from our lives all the time, for reasons other than death. It’s a “Carpe Diem” kind of song, and I think of it more often when I’m content than I do when I miss someone.

    • Oh, I’m not saying go to stranger’s funerals. But, for example, if your boss’s father dies. You don’t know your boss’s father. But you know your boss, so you go to the funeral. Most people at the funeral won’t know you, but that’s okay, because it’ll mean something to your boss that you went out of your way to attend.


Leave a Reply

Discover more from

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading