When It’s OK Not To Attend a Funeral

Posted on December 16, 2021 by Bevis Funeral Home under Funeral Etiquette, Funeral Services
Leave a comment

Attending the funeral of a family member or friend is an important part of honoring their memory. There are circumstances, however, when not attending a funeral of someone outside your immediate family is perfectly acceptable. If you are trying to decide whether or not to go, consider the following common instances when it is OK not to attend a funeral.

It is a private funeral.

Not all funeral services are meant for the public. While many are open to anyone who would like to attend, some families prefer more privacy. If you heard about a service being held in honor of a friend, but have not seen the information posted (or shared with you directly), it may not be open to everyone. Look online or in your local newspaper for an announcement that may provide more clarity. If you are unsure, reach out to someone connected to the family.

Traveling would be difficult.

Long distance travel is a common reason not to attend a funeral. If you are unable to travel across the country (or even the world) to make the service, friends and family will understand. It can be difficult, expensive and time-consuming to arrange the travel necessary – not to mention the added risks of traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Just be honest with family and friends about why you are unable to make the trip.

You have young children.

Another time you may choose not to attend a funeral is if you would have to bring your young children. While many children are mature enough to understand and attend funeral services, toddlers or infant children may be disruptive to others in attendance. If you are unable to secure childcare and do not feel comfortable bringing your children, that is a perfectly acceptable reason not to attend.

You are physically unwell.

Some health conditions make traveling (or attending long events) difficult. If you are unwell, you may choose not to attend a funeral for your own health and well-being. If you want to let the grieving family know you are thinking of them, send a thoughtful note instead.

You have prior commitments.

It’s not good etiquette to skip a funeral simply because you have other plans, but some commitments are legitimate reasons not to attend a funeral. For instance, if you are serving in the military, it may be impossible to take unexpected time off. Even something like a final exam that is unmovable may be a reason. Before you decide, however, consider asking your professor or supervisor if you can adjust your schedule in order to attend.

You feel unsafe.

The funeral of a family member can come with complicated dynamics, depending on your family situation. If for some reason you do not feel safe attending, whether related to the deceased or another person in attendance, you can absolutely choose to not go to the funeral. Do not put your own safety – or mental well-being – at risk to avoid hurting someone else’s feelings.

If you feel unsafe and need help, please contact one of the following organizations for assistance:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-7233
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: (800) 656-4673

These are just a few instances in which you may not attend a funeral, but it is not always black-and-white. If you are unsure whether you attend or skip, there may not be a clear-cut answer. Simply opting out of a funeral at the last minute because you’d rather not go can be hurtful. If you have a legitimate conflict, however, you can still let the grieving family know you are thinking of them during this difficult time.

Bevis Funeral Home is pleased to offer families in our care high-quality, live-streamed funeral services for their friends and family who cannot attend due to distance, illness, military service or travel limitations. To learn more, speak with one of our funeral directors at 850.385.2193.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *