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SPONSORED CONTENT DECLARATION: This content is brought to you by Nirvana Memorial Garden, Courtesy of their Life Education Series Campaign. This article discusses what we should do and the things we should and shouldn’t say at a funeral.

This is even so as we Singaporeans are living in a land of diverse cultures, religions, and ethics. As such, it comes as no surprise that there are differing red tapes that we should concern ourselves with when attending a funeral here in Singapore. For a comprehensive guide on attending a funeral of a different religion. Click here.

That being said, there are nonetheless common practices across religions in manners of saying goodbye, paying respect and reverence to the deceased. Here are the 6 things to take note of when attending a funeral in Singapore.

  1. The Appropriate Visiting Time
  2. What Should You Do When You Arrive
  3. What Can You Say
  4. What You Should Not Say
  5. Monetary contributions
  6. Helping Someone Who Is Grieving

1.The Appropriate Visiting Time

Telegrams, Whatsapp is usually the mediums used to convey news of death among friends and relatives. There is no fixed timing as to when one should visit, however, we would suggest paying respect and visiting the deceased at the time stated in the message. Alternatively, one may also drop a call before heading down for a visit.

Depending on work commitments, friends can also visit in the evening on Friday night or Saturday. Family members will often take turns to keep vigil throughout the night during the funeral period, As such if you are a close friend of the bereaving family, staying later into the night to keep them company and awake can be very helpful.

2.What Should You Do After Arriving?

On arrival, be mindful of what the current funeral procession is and try not to be in the way of any preparation work or rituals. If you arrive at a scene of one. it is advisable to come back after the ritual or to wait out. Look for any of the family members that you may recognize, introduce yourself and let them know that you would like to pay your respect to the deceased.

It is perfectly fine for visitors and friends who do not share the same faith or close ties to not follow or observe the rituals at the wake. Rest assure that no offends are taken when you choose not to participate.

3.What Can You Say

As guests, we should always do our very best to be respectful towards the family of the deceased. It is appropriate to offer your sympathy to the family, and if you do not know the family well. a simple “My condolences to you and your family.” or “I’m sorry for your loss” will suffice.

If you are close to the family, you may extend to say something personal about the person who has died, For example, “I’m so sorry that you have lost your mom (her name) she was a lovely lady and we will miss her and her cooking very much.” Saying something personal that kindly remembers the person who has pass on and what they meant to you is usually appreciated and appropriate.

Here are some examples of what to say at a funeral:
  • I’m sorry for your loss
  • He will be missed by us
  • She was a lovely woman and will be greatly missed
  • You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers
  • I’m all ears for you
  • My condolences to you and your family

4.What You Should Not Say

A generic tip here is to avoid cliche sayings such as “s/he had a good life”, ” they are in a better place now” or “he has lived a long life, s/he lived through 4 generations.” what we would want to focus on here is to acknowledge and recognize the grief of the family members, and not to minimize or trivialize their feelings. It may be a meaningful and long life for the deceased, but to those left behind, as far as longevity is concerned, may never be enough, and that the impact of the bereavement on them must not and cannot be trivialized.

Whilst loss is common, and that many of us have similar experiences in life. it is paramount to not say sentences like “I have been in your shoes.” or “I know how you feel”. The truth is you don’t, and should not assume that others feel the same. By making such sentences, you shift the focus of attention to you, and how you have had coped with feelings of loss, and not them. As such, during a funeral, it is never the right time to share these tips about grief coping and remedies that helped. Instead, you should focus on them by lending them your listening ears or simply companionship during this difficult time. Avoid questions that will cause emotional pain and focus on something else that takes their minds off the pain of losing a loved one.

Here are some examples of what NOT to say at a funeral:
  • I know how you feel
  • I have been your in shoes
  • S/he has had a long meaningful life
  • Don’t worry too much, you will be fine
  • I have been through this, and I’m sure you too can be fine
  • Look on the bright side, she is in a better place now

5.Monetary Contributions

There is no hard rule for how much to give as long as you give intending to assist the family in covering the cost of the funeral. It is a common practice for relatives and friends to make cash contributions to help the bereaved with the cost of the funeral. There is no pressure on the amount you give and it depends on how close you are to the family and their financial capacity. However for the Chinese families who are more “pantang”. Contribution values should be made in values that consist of odd numbers on the tenth or ending with five in one place. This means that we should not donate in values like $20,$40,$60 but in either $10,$30,$50 or $15, $25, $35

Alternatively, you may also pool together with colleagues or friends, and have the money in an envelope with everyone’s wishes of condolences to the family and their names to give a more substantial amount.

6.Helping Someone Who is Grieving

Losing someone dear is never an easy process and the period after a loss in which grief is experienced and mourning occurs can sometimes be too overwhelming for an individual. There are no right ways to grieve and there are certainly no end dates or timetables for one to experience grief and it can last as long as it takes to adjust to the changes in our lives brought by the absence of our loved ones. For some, it may months, while others even years.

It is often difficult to tell or know what to say to someone who is experiencing grief, and at times, we can be left feeling powerless or inadequate for as much as we love to help, our words of comfort sometimes may not seem to do enough in the circumstances, and that we find ourselves lost in words, worrying about what we said that may upset or aggravate the emotional pain of the Bereaved.

Letters to Heaven

The act of writing emotions, feelings, and thoughts on a paper releases the stress of repressed feelings. The act of it allows you to freely and safely express yourself without judgment and prejudice and helps the bereaved in sorting out his or her feelings and lead her towards closure.

While you may not be able to physically touch your loved ones or see them while you write for them. seeking alternatives just as sharing your thoughts, memories on paper can provide you with comfort. You can still share thoughts, life events, and successes with them even if they are one-sided. When you choose to write a letter to a deceased loved one, you are provided with an opportunity to sort out any conflicting emotions you have, and ultimately help yourself find closure from their deaths.

Podcasts are now available for selected written letters. for more information click here.

In your journey of finding closure and grief management, our community partner: Grief Matters, supports individuals and families who have lost their loved ones through death with their plethora of services and community-based social services. If you ever notice yourself or others that are exhibiting the following signs after losing a significant person. Having the opportunity to speak to a professional about your grief experience can be helpful even if it is just for someone to provide reassurance.

  • Prolonged difficulty in managing daily activities
  • Neglect of personal care and grooming
  • Extreme preoccupation with the loss of the person
  • Extreme anger or bitterness
  • Increased use of intoxicants
  • Hallucinations related to the loss
  • Prolonged withdrawal from social activities
  • Inability to enjoy hobbies or interests
  • Persistent thought of worthlessness or hopelessness
  • Worsening of existing mental health conditions
Live Life, Love Life. A Message from our sponsor:

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