Funeral attired

I have always had a hard time with the change of how attendees dress at a funeral. I am talking about the traditional Christian classic black funeral. I miss the practice of wearing black clothing, not jeans or t-shirts, tennis shoes or flip flops. It has been several years now that I am ever more appalled at the attire I see at funerals. Bright colors, frumpled and untucked shirts. What a change from what I think signifies respect for the dead. I have heard reasons like “Grandma would want us to be comfortable” Great! She sounds like a good grandma who loved you, so take half a second and put on something nice in her honor, for her wanting you to be comfortable when you attend her funeral! I am going on a bit of a tangent and yes, I absolutely mean to. Black is the universal color of mourning. If you loved this person then you are in mourning, wearing black is honoring a person you loved and now is dead and you are mourning. I have seen gentlemen in a nice dress shirt and tie and then fail at the end with cargo shorts and flip flops. Don’t you realize that we can all see the bottom half of you too! Young girls in crazy patterned leggings topped off with a nice bright tank top. I am in full favor of addressing the deceased’s favorite color by using table cloths, colored socks and ties and hair ribbons, that is classy, not an entire room in pumpkin orange with quirky sayings and frumpled jeans. I know I should not be so judgmental, I get it and I know that I am going to anger some people but I am standing by my thoughts, I am bothered by these changes, when did it become ok to wear your pajamas for a funeral?
Today I directed a viewing. It was a different situation where the woman’s family lived elsewhere. She had built a small life and had made her friends in this one place. Not all funeral attendees come to say goodbye to the deceased, some of them come for the survivors never even knowing the deceased. This funeral was different, the only attendees were her close and personal friends, they were not friends of friends, they were not friends of the survivors, they were not family who felt obligated to show up to aunt so and so’s funeral. They were all there to say goodbye to her. The air in the building was palpable, there was a small hum in the silence of the hallways. There were people everywhere, wrecked and broken, no one made eye contact with me. Somehow even with the lights on, the building felt dark and sad. I have never been to a funeral with so many attendees that was so dark and quiet. When there was a whir of talking it was hushed and almost shameful. What I did notice, of course, no one was wearing black. Every person in bright colors, jeans, t-shirts, flip flops, house dresses, and as I stood there watching all of these people, I came to realize that everything changes. What I saw as disrespect, these people saw as honoring their dear friend. I would be appalled and embarrassed to attend a funeral dressed this way, but they picked these outfits carefully, with only their beautiful friend in mind. So, I may not agree or like these changes in our culture and I will always advocate for the mourning black worn at funerals, yet I can see where this other way of dressing is honoring the deceased as well.
Funeral-Etiquette

One thought on “Funeral attired

  1. My feelings echo your well thought out sentiment. Indeed it is a sign of cultural changes where conforming to tradition is shunned. Letting others be in their own space and way of representing themselves is their right, although it be disrespectful to many. Dress represents honor, but this is frequently misunderstood in a community where the rights of self, and the justifications, are more important. We can accept without approval, while owning our own standard of dress that brings dignity and respect to funerals and other more formal occasions. Our outward appearance says much about ourselves. It is important to know that there is a time and place for everything.

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About Chelsea Tolman