Many of us just don’t know what to do when a friend, associate, acquaintance, colleague or neighbour has a death in the close family.
Your first priority is your friend/neighbour/colleague and their loss and grieving process. The fact that you didn’t know the person they are grieving is not the issue.
Funerals are for those who remain – they serve the grieving process and are the final ritual that puts the closing bracket on a life.
Your support at this important ritual for those grieving a close relative provide important support and acknowledgement of the process they’re going through.
So I urge you to attend funerals in your role as a member of your communities – neighbourhood, work, social, sport, professional and so on. You don’t have to have known the one who has died – you’re there for the one you do know. To take part in an important part of their life.
You may also wish to bring or send flowers (unless instructed otherwise) and/or to give a card to express your sympathy with their sorrow. It means a lot when a person is at their most emotionally vulnerable.
In my own experience, when I’ve missed the funeral of a friend’s parent, I’ve found it difficult to recall that they’ve died. I’ve never actually asked “oh, and how’s your mum?” but I’ve come close.
So don’t be shy – go to funerals (unless for some reason it’s really not appropriate). They’re also great reality checks for the living.