Q. Who should (or should not) attend a funeral? Do you make the determination based on how well you knew the person who died or how well you know the family?
Name withheld by request
A. In my opinion, as long as the funeral isn’t a private affair, anyone is free to attend. I can’t imagine many situations in which someone would be angry at a person who showed up to pay respects. Most people instinctively avoid funerals because they don’t know how to deal with death. Many of us are uncomfortable talking about the subject, let alone confronting it head-on. We justify this, when we can, with excuses like “I want to respect the privacy of the family” and “I don’t want it to seem as if I’m appropriating their tragedy as my own.” But close relatives of the deceased often feel isolated at this time. It’s a kindness for you to remind them that they are part of a larger community that cares about what they are going through.