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How to Dress for the Dead

Updated: Mar 6

As a chaplain or pastor, you attend or officiate more funerals than you want. There are deaths as the result of violence, poor decisions, age, disease, and personal choice.

Death is rarely noble, often ugly and for some reason, generally a surprise to us.

Thousands of years of every single person dying and it’s still a surprise for us.

Want to make people uncomfortable?

Talk about dying.

Talk about your death.

Talk about their death.

Or just talk about death.

When a person you know loses someone, do the practicable things of life for those who are dealing with the grief over the loss of a loved one:

  • clean their home,

  • make some casseroles,

  • take out their trash,

  • mow their lawn,

  • run their errands,

  • buy their groceries,

  • make sure the kids (if there are any) have something to play with.

Life doesn’t stop when you lose someone.

Another observation about death: funerals are not the time for you to dump your sorrow on the friends and family who are left behind. Remain composed. Really think about what you’re going to say. Better yet, say nothing except, “I’m sorry for your loss.” That’s the best and safest thing to say.

When you attend a funeral, dress accordingly, as if you’re attending a religious service. Most likely, the funeral will be a religious service.

Gentlemen, wear a dark suit: black, navy, or grey with a white shirt and a solid tie. Polish your shoes. Groom your hair and face.

Ladies, wear a modest dark dress with sleeves and some jewelry. It’s ok to wear a not-too-bright colored dress under a black coat. Accessorizing is acceptable, but keep it simple.

Finally, watch and listen and ask yourself, “How do I want to be remembered?”

Once you answer that question, adjust the pattern of your thoughts, decisions, actions to match up. Just like your shoes and belts.

Or purse.

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