What to bring to a funeral in Australia

July 3, 2023
What to bring to a funeral in Australia

Losing a loved one is never easy, and attending a funeral can be emotionally challenging.

In Australia, it is customary to show respect and support by bringing certain items to a funeral. So, what should you bring to a funeral in Australia?

The answer depends on the cultural practices and personal preferences of the grieving family, but generally speaking, it’s always thoughtful to bring flowers and/or a sympathy card.

Flowers are considered a traditional gesture of condolences in Australian funerals. You can choose from an array of floral arrangements such as wreaths or bouquets. White lilies are commonly associated with funerals as they symbolise purity and innocence.

It’s important to remember that some religions or cultures have specific traditions regarding flower choices for funerals, so it may be wise to check with the family or the funeral director before making your selection.

In addition to flowers, many people find solace in expressing their sympathies through heartfelt words. A sympathy card is often appreciated by grieving families as it allows them to revisit messages of support during difficult times. When choosing a sympathy card, opt for simple yet sincere sentiments that offer comfort rather than elaborate messages.

Every funeral is unique and customs may vary depending on individual beliefs and traditions. It’s always considerate to consult with close family members or friends if you’re unsure about what would be appropriate in each specific situation.

Etiquette for Attending Funerals in Australia

When attending a funeral in Australia, it is important to be mindful of the etiquette and customs that are observed. Here are some guidelines to help you navigate this sensitive occasion:

  1. Dress appropriately: Dressing conservatively and respectfully is expected at Australian funerals. Opt for dark-coloured clothing such as black, navy blue, or charcoal gray. Avoid bright colours or flashy attire.
  2. Arrive on time: It’s essential to arrive punctually for the funeral service. If there is a specific time mentioned in the invitation or program, make sure you allow enough time for parking and finding your seat.
  3. Offer condolences: Expressing sympathy to the grieving family is customary upon arrival at the funeral venue or during wake ceremonies before or after the service. A simple phrase like “I’m sorry for your loss” can go a long way.
  4. Maintain silence and respect: During the actual funeral ceremony, it is crucial to remain quiet and respectful throughout. Turn off your mobile phone or put it on silent mode to avoid any disruptions.
  5. Follow religious customs: Depending on cultural background and personal beliefs, there may be specific religious practices observed during funerals in Australia—such as standing, sitting, singing hymns, or reciting prayers—follow along unless otherwise indicated by the officiant.
  6. Refrain from taking photos: Taking photographs inside the chapel or during burial services should generally be avoided out of respect for privacy and solemnity unless explicitly permitted by family members.
  7. Contribute sympathetically: In many cases, flowers are sent prior to funerals as gestures of condolence; check with local customs if floral arrangements are appropriate within specific communities/cultures/religions.
  8. Offer support afterwards: Following a funeral service in Australia, it’s common practice to attend wakes where friends gather to share memories and provide support to the bereaved family. Offering assistance or a listening ear during this time can be greatly appreciated.

Each funeral may have unique customs and practices based on cultural, religious, or personal preferences. If you are uncertain about any aspect of the etiquette, it is advisable to reach out to the family or organisers for guidance beforehand.

Appropriate Clothing to Wear to a Funeral

When attending a funeral in Australia, it is important to dress respectfully and appropriately. Here are some guidelines for choosing the right clothing:

  • Black or Dark Colors: Opt for black or dark-colored attire as they symbolize mourning and respect.
  • Formal Attire: Choose formal clothing such as suits, dresses, or skirts. Men should wear shirts with collars and ties.
  • Modest Outfits: Select outfits that are modest and not revealing. Avoid wearing flashy jewelry or accessories.
  • Comfortable Shoes: Since funerals usually involve standing or sitting for extended periods, choose comfortable shoes that you can wear throughout the day.

What Not to Wear to an Australian Funeral

Avoid Wearing
Bright colors
Casual attire
Shorts or jeans
Revealing outfits

The primary focus at a funeral is paying respects to the deceased and supporting their loved ones. By dressing appropriately, you show your empathy and understanding during this somber occasion.

  1. Dressing in appropriate attire shows respect for both the deceased individual and their grieving family members.
  2. It’s essential to avoid wearing bright colors because they may appear inappropriate or disrespectful in a solemn setting like a funeral.
  3. Keep your outfit formal but modest; this ensures that attention remains on honoring the life of the departed rather than distracting clothing choices.
  4. Comfortable footwear is crucial since you may be required to stand for long periods during funeral services.

Funerals are significant events where people come together to mourn their loss collectively. When you have an appropriate clothing selection, you contribute positively towards creating an atmosphere of reverence while comforting those who are grieving

Understanding Cultural and Religious Customs

When attending a funeral in Australia, it is important to be aware of the diverse cultural and religious customs that may be observed.

By understanding these customs, you can show respect for the deceased and their loved ones. Here are some key considerations:

  1. Dress Code: Dressing appropriately is essential when attending a funeral. In many cases, formal attire such as dark-colored suits or dresses is expected. However, certain cultures or religions may have specific requirements regarding clothing colors or styles.
  2. Time Management: Arriving on time is crucial out of respect for the grieving family and to avoid disruption during the service. It’s recommended to plan your journey accordingly considering traffic conditions.
  3. Greeting Etiquette: Different cultures have varying greeting customs at funerals. For example:
    • Some cultures may prefer a handshake while others might embrace or offer condolences with a respectful bow.
    • Offering sincere condolences is universally appreciated; however, it’s important to refrain from excessive displays of emotion if they are not culturally appropriate.
  4. Gifts and Flowers: Bringing flowers or gifts as a gesture of sympathy is common in Australian funerals but keep in mind any specific guidelines related to cultural or religious practices.
  5. Religious Observances: If the funeral follows a particular religion, familiarize yourself with its beliefs and traditions beforehand so that you can participate respectfully.
    • For example, Christian funerals often include prayers, hymns, scripture readings, and eulogies.
    • Other faiths may have different rituals such as ablutions before entering certain places of worship.
  6. Photography Restrictions: Some communities prohibit photography during funeral services due to privacy concerns or cultural sensitivities.
  7. Food Offerings/Memorial Gatherings: After the service concludes, there might be memorial gatherings where food offerings play an integral role depending on local customs

Remember that customs can vary widely among different cultural and religious groups. It’s always a good idea to seek guidance from the funeral organisers or consult with someone familiar with the specific customs if you are uncertain about any aspects. By respecting these traditions, you can support those who are grieving while honouring their cultural and religious practices.

  • In some cultures, it is customary to bring food or contribute to the communal meal.

Items to Bring for Comfort and Support

When attending a funeral in Australia, it’s important to bring items that provide comfort and support to both yourself and the grieving family.

Here are some suggestions on what you can bring:

  1. Tissues: Grief often comes with tears, so having tissues on hand is essential.
  2. Water bottle: It’s crucial to stay hydrated during emotional events like funerals.
  3. Umbrella: Australian weather can be unpredictable, so bringing an umbrella can help protect you from rain or harsh sun.
  4. Comfortable shoes: Funerals usually involve standing or walking for extended periods, so wearing comfortable footwear is advisable.
  5. Sunglasses: If the service takes place outdoors or in a bright area, sunglasses can shield your eyes from intense sunlight and offer privacy when needed.
  6. Hand sanitizer: Providing hand sanitizer shows thoughtfulness towards hygiene concerns, especially during flu seasons or pandemics.
  7. Mints or breath fresheners: These small gestures show consideration for others while conversing at the funeral gathering.
  8. Small snacks: Energy levels may fluctuate throughout the day due to emotions; thus, packing light snacks such as granola bars can be helpful.

Bringing flowers or sympathy cards is also customary in Australia as a way of expressing condolences and support for the bereaved family.

Tips for Offering Condolences

When attending a funeral in Australia, it’s important to offer your condolences and support to the grieving family. Here are some tips on how to do so respectfully:

  1. Express your sympathy: Start by expressing your sincere condolences for their loss. Use phrases like “I’m sorry for your loss” or “Please accept my deepest sympathies.”
  2. Be genuine: Show empathy and compassion when offering condolences. Be sincere in your words and actions.
  3. Keep it simple: Offer a few comforting words without going into too much detail or sharing personal stories unless appropriate.
  4. Use appropriate body language: Maintain a respectful demeanor during interactions with the grieving family members. A gentle touch on the arm or a warm hug can provide comfort if you have an established relationship with them.
  5. Listen actively: If the bereaved want to talk about their loved one, lend them an attentive ear without interrupting or judging what they say.
  6. Offer practical help: Instead of simply saying, “Let me know if you need anything,” be proactive in providing assistance such as cooking meals, running errands, or helping with funeral arrangements if appropriate.
  7. Respect cultural customs: Different cultures may have specific mourning rituals and traditions that should be respected during this sensitive time.
  8. Send a condolence card or letter: A handwritten note expressing sympathy can offer solace beyond the immediate funeral day—include heartfelt messages and memories of the deceased person if applicable.
  9. Follow up after the funeral: Reach out to check how they’re doing after some time has passed – grief doesn’t end with the funeral itself.

By following these tips, you can offer meaningful condolences that provide comfort and support to those grieving at a funeral in Australia.


Attending a funeral in Australia requires thoughtful preparation to ensure respect and support for the grieving family. By understanding Australian funeral customs and traditions, you can bring appropriate items that offer comfort and solace during this difficult time.

When selecting what to bring, consider practical items such as tissues, water bottles, or umbrellas for outdoor services. Additionally, offering a sympathy card or handwritten note expressing your condolences is a meaningful gesture that will be deeply appreciated by the bereaved family. Remember to dress appropriately in conservative attire and avoid bright colors or flashy accessories.

Ultimately, the most important thing you can bring to a funeral in Australia is your sincere presence and willingness to provide emotional support. Showing empathy through active listening and offering kind words of encouragement goes a long way in helping those who are mourning find solace during their grief journey.

By being mindful of cultural sensitivities and demonstrating genuine compassion, you contribute positively to the healing process while honouring the memory of the deceased.