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Attending a Funeral for Someone with a Different Religion


Lifestyle Improvement

Posted On: Jun 09, 2017

Attending a Funeral for Someone with a Different Religion

Friendships and relationships ideally know no religion, so at some point, it's entirely likely that you may attend a funeral honoring a friend or family member who was a member of a different religion. In most, but not all cases, you don't have to believe in the same religion to attend the wake or funeral. That being said, it's also not uncommon to feel nervous or uncomfortable, not because you're in the presence of different religious rites and traditions, of course, but because you don't want to do or say the wrong thing during such a meaningful, emotional event. Take a few pointers, so you'll feel more at ease when you attend a funeral for someone who belonged to a religion different from your own.

Research Your Departed Friend's Religion

To assuage your fears, you can be proactive and do some research on your own. Whether you borrow a book from the library or turn to Google, you can discover the traditional funeral rites and practices for practically any religion in the world. Such resources generally have instructions not only about how to behave during funerals, but also specific instructions for people who don't practice that particular religion. If there are any special rules to follow or, perhaps more importantly, things to avoid, you'll know well beforehand, and you can attend the funeral with enough knowledge to put your mind at ease.

Ask—but Tactfully

Using your best judgment, you can also talk to relatives or friends of the deceased who practice that religion, too. Do not, of course, ask a grieving spouse or parent to explain things to you. You don't want to ask the day of the funeral, either. Reach out to an extended family member or mutual friend a few days beforehand, explaining that you want to be both respectful and knowledgeable.

If All Else Fails, Be Respectful

Quietly showing respect as you say your final goodbyes is a foolproof strategy. During the event, you can keep an eye on what everyone else is doing and take your cues that way. If anything looks like it's a religion-specific rite, simply stand back and observe silently. The other mourners will understand that you are showing respect.

Have you ever attended the funeral of someone who belonged to a different religion? How did you get through it?