You tell yourself that you have all the time in the world to catch up . . . until suddenly you don't. When someone you were once close to — but have not seen in a long time — passes away, it can be tough to know how to proceed. Surely, you should attend the funeral, but there are a few tips you'll want to follow to make the experience easier on yourself and on others involved.
Attend the wake first.
If the family has an open wake or viewing, do your best to attend this event prior to attending the actual funeral service. This will give you a chance to pay your respects to the family of the deceased in a more intimate setting. You probably have a lot to say since you have not seen them in years, and the wake is a better place to say it than at the actual funeral service. Attending the wake will also give you a little more time to come to terms with the death, which you will probably need since it has been so long since you've seen your friend.
Don't call too much attention to yourself.
Chances are that there will be a lot of people at the funeral who you also have not seen in years. As excited as you may be to see them, it's important to be subdued and not to make the service about you and your return to this group of people. Greet people with a handshake and a "so nice to see you again," but do not drift off into a conversation about what you have done over the last 10 years. This service is about the deceased; keep the focus on them.
Don't be afraid to recall good times from the past.
If you are asked to speak during the service or if the funeral director opens the ability to speak to anyone in the audience, do not be afraid to bring up old, positive memories of the deceased. Chances are that most people at the funeral have seen the person more recently than you have, so many of the stories they tell and memories they share will be more recent than your own. Your recall of stories and events from 10 years ago will be welcomed because it differs from the norm.
If someone you have not seen in years passes away, you should absolutely attend the funeral services. With the tips above, you'll be fully prepared.