The other thread for this seems to be specific to a particular event, so I thought I'd start a new one that was more general. Mods, if this is inappropriate, please delete.
For the Bereaved:
- No matter how tempting it is, resist the urge to use the funeral, obituary, or eulogy to air the deceased’s dirty laundry, settle old scores, or have the last word. Even if you are absolutely in the right on all counts, you'll still end up looking petty and mean spirited.
- Remember that shock, grief, and exhaustion have a huge impact on perceptions and emotions. Be generous with the benefit of the doubt until the situation has settled somewhat and you can be objective.
- Allow other members of the deceased’s family and friends to grieve in their own way without judgment. Work, exercise, humor, and even socializing are coping mechanisms just as valid as crying and praying. If going into the office, or out for a round of drinks, or hitting the gym gives someone the strength they need to remain functional, it's not for anyone else to decide or comment on whether it's proper or not.
For Those Supporting and/or Consoling the Bereaved:
- Keep expressions of condolence brief – "I'm so sorry for your loss,” is perfect. Trying to say more than that is usually what lands people in eHell.
- Please consider making a charitable donation in lieu of flowers if the family requests it. Plants and flowers have to be dealt with and/or disposed of after the funeral – if the loved ones are from out of town, have allergies or health issues, or just don't have green thumbs, giving them something else that has to be taken care of can be more burdensome than comforting.
- Sending or bringing food is a time honored tradition, but please make sure that it is welcome before doing so. Be especially aware of any dietary needs or restrictions, such as vegetarian or keeping kosher. Again, if most of the family is only in town for the funeral, it may be more of a hindrance than a help to have mountains of food to deal with before they can leave.
- Don't bother the family with mundane details if you can help it. Call the funeral home or house of worship for directions, service times, dress code, or any other information you might need. If you are coming from out of town, make sure those numbers are programmed into your phone.
Edited to fix grammatical glitches.