20 answers

Celebration of Life / Funeral Service Protocol?

Sadly, one of my old friends from high school was murdered. This weekend I will be attending a "Celebration of Life" gathering for her.
Her parents have requested that no one say how sorry they are that she died, and they want people to share stories of her that are happy. I get that.
But the family has also requested that no one wear black or white? Black I understand, but anyone have a clue why no white?
And that pretty much cuts out the dresses I have, and dressy pants/jackets, because I am a stay at home mom and don't have a lot of nice clothes. Do you think it's okay to wear a nice pair of jeans and sweater since I am guessing this is not a very formal thing?

Also, I think it is traditional to bring a card and write a check to help the family cover funeral expenses right? But not totally sure, especially when it didn't say anything in the obituary.

What IS socially correct / traditional to do for funerals / memorial services / celebration of life?

Thank you.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Appreciate the responses. Since I felt kind of awkward in the clothing issue, I found a dress in my closet, that although it isn't exactly bright and has "some" black in it, but it's mostly gray with some blues, and at least looks lively.
I am guessing from other's responses that the not wearing white thing might have something to do with her religious affiliation or lack of if that was the case :( Mom is Catholic, but not sure where my friend was at. She was not someone I kept in touch with recently.
As far as money gift, I'm just going to see if anything is mentioned at the celebration. She was not married, and the family is from a wealthy area, so rather than offend them, I'll wait and see. At the very least I'm going to send a card to the parent's home AFTER the service with a picture I have of their daughter from when we played soccer together in high school.
And of course I will be praying for God's healing comfort for her family.

Featured Answers

You've received some good answers. I want to add that whether or not you are expected to give them money varies. I would expect that it's not expected in California. It's done more in the east, especially the south east from what I've read.

Did the obituary mention flowers? It's usual to send flowers but not to give money in my experience. Frequently families will say instead of flowers contribute to such and such a charity or to a bank acct. The mortuary should know. Call them and ask if the family made any requests.

What is socially correct depends on the family, traditions in their religion or in the community. I suggest, that you don't need to concerned about them when you're not an immediate member of their community. The focus is celebrating the loved one's life. Wear colors, even if it's jeans and a sweater because that is what the family has requested. Most celebrations are informal.

4 moms found this helpful

I agree that you can wear black pants and a really colorful top.. maybe even a bright scarf.

If money is traditional for you, then do give money in a card.

I am sorry for you all of you. What a terrible thing.

Maybe write down some different memories and then while you are there think of the one you want to share, but give the family the list of memories you thought of. They will love it.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers

In our area it's not uncommon to arrive with some cash in an envelope for the family.
Quite common actually.
The funeral homes even provide little envelopes for those who come unprepared.

Funeral expenses are not just limited to the cost of the funeral home, the casket, the flowers, etc. It's about travel, food for guests, etc. Unexpected expenses for the family, so some cash in a card would NEVER be considered inappropriate.

As for what to wear, I get the "no black" (symbolic of grief) -- maybe adding the "no white" is a way to ensure joyful, "happy" dress and color which fits better with the celebration of a life, perhaps?

T L., go with a spirit of thankfulness, love and gratitude that you knew your friend and were part of each others lives and NOTHING you wear could ever be considered "wrong".

So sorry about your friend. How tragic. :(

6 moms found this helpful

I am sorry about your friend! I understand the families wishing to make this a celebration. My sister wanted the same thing. Wear something brightly colored. The brighter the better. They want this to be a happy event and bright colors are happy.
IT IS Appropriate to give the family cash or checks. When my husband died I had alot of people send me money.
I understand the family wanting to keep it positive, but it is still going to painful and people are gonna cry. Just try to be as positive as possible and tell the best story you can about your friends life.
Good luck!!

6 moms found this helpful

When my Dad died several years ago... we had a celebration of life service, for him too.
In Hawaii... people wear Aloha print shirts, and dresses. Not only the traditional "black" or dark colors.
Things here are as colorful as the rainbow, at some funeral services.
It is the norm, here.
And in fact, MANY do wear, very casual outfits... whatever they can afford and no one looks at them weirdly.
Some even come in surf shorts and shirts.
And it is accepted. At least at the funerals I have been to, too.

White, for some cultures, is the color of death.
Which is contrary to a celebration of life, service.

And yes, bring a card and monetary gift.
That is the norm. Here, too and per our cultures here in Hawaii.

Just dress neatly. And you should be fine.

6 moms found this helpful

You don't need to be "formally" dressed, but you shoud respect the families wishes when it comes to colors.
You can look nice and presentable without worrying about wearing a formal dress, etc.

Usually, it's not expected to give money in order to help pay for the funeral. Some might find that weird. Many, many people are greatful for memorial contributions made to a favorite charity in the deceases person's name. Unless you have been close with the family in recent history, I don't know that "money for the service" is all that traditional.
I had a wonderful friend who passed away many years ago from cancer. I was extremely close to her family. She had SEVEN children. I made a donation to Hospice and sent her mother a check to help with some things that the kids might need. It was her choice to put it in the bank, a scholarship fund, buy them clothes....

Everything is different in different cultures, but be sure to respect the family's wishes. If there is an obituary, which you can usually find online, it mentions where memorial contributions can be sent IF the family requests it.
If not....
Just a nice card and sentiments is appropriate.

I'm sorry for the loss of your friend in such a tragic way.
Respect the wishes of the family.

6 moms found this helpful

In some Christian denominations it is not uncommon to wear white for a funeral. The casket is typically covered with a white pall. It is symbolic of the person having died in the faith and being safe in their salvation.
If the family of your friend does not attend church, or maybe did at one time and no longer do, or know that their child was an atheist or something, then perhaps that might be why they asked for no white? Purely a guess on my part.

ETA: Hmm. googled it. In some Asian cultures white is the color of death. So I'm guessing your friend's family is aware of this cultural practice and doesn't want anything reflecting "death" at the gathering.

Very sorry for the loss of your friend.

5 moms found this helpful

Wear whatever you have it is more important that be there than what you wear.
If you remember her favorite color or your school colors and have them wear that.
Go through yearbooks and find something to share. A funny story about your high school days or how you met or how much you enjoyed knowing her. How her friendship made high school bearable.
Funerals are expensive my Mom's cost over $13,000--if you can help it will be appreciated but not necessary.

I am so sorry for your loss--hug her parents once for yourself and once for me.

5 moms found this helpful

I went to a celebration of life for a dear family friend in august. It was an outdoor picnic. I blended right in wearing white capris, blue colorful top and pumps. I think as long as ur not in all white it would be ok. Color it up a bit. And sad truth is, dying is expensive. Im sure a monetary gift would be much appreciated.

4 moms found this helpful

Hello, Two year ago next month, I lost my precious Aunt who was like a mother to me. One month later, I lost my precious husband of 43 years. It was a double blow. I honestly can say that it doesn't matter what you wear to the service. I remember the people being there and at the wake afterwards, but I honestly do not remember what anyone was wearing. Your presence is the most important thing.
K. K.

4 moms found this helpful

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