Is it Acceptable to Attend the Funeral of a Celebrity or Local Hero?
When a celebrity or local figure dies, it’s common for those who didn’t know the deceased to share in the mourning process. It doesn’t matter whether you grew up reading the celebrity’s books or if a local firefighter died while battling a huge forest fire – connections with those who have gone before us, whether shared or not, can have a big impact in your life.
However, before you put on your funeral attire and show up at the burial arrangements made in honor of the deceased, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:
Is it an open funeral? In many cases – particularly if a local figure dies – families choose to keep the funeral private and small. While most of them don’t want to discourage others from honoring the deceased, there are often two separate ceremonies. Check the obituary and newspapers for notifications on when and where it is acceptable for the public to mourn. There may be an open vigil, a public forum, or even a party to which everyone else is encouraged to go.
Would it be better to send a donation or gift? One of the best ways to show your support of the deceased is to send a condolence card, arrange for funeral flowers to be sent to the memorial, or make a donation in lieu of flowers (as requested). This seemingly small gesture can convey the proper amount of respect without infringing on the family’s grief. This is especially true if the death was due to an illness in need of research funds or if the death was sudden and the immediate family might need financial support.
What are your reasons for going? It’s only natural to flock to a public event, especially when it’s a big deal like the passing of a major celebrity. However, if you’re only going because you’re curious about the spectacle or if you’d like to brush up with other celebrities who might be attendance, it might be better to stay home. Death and grief are very real for those who knew the deceased well, and it’s never appropriate to make light of or diminish their experience.
Are there any costs associated with it? If the celebrity you’re mourning lived in Los Angeles, but you’re located in Chicago, traveling cross-country to attend the funeral arrangements might not make the most sense from a financial standpoint. In addition to air travel, there are hotel costs and food to take into account. In many cases, making a donation to the celebrity’s favorite charity is a more respectful choice, especially if you didn’t personally know the deceased.
Death and funerals aren’t easy to deal with, no matter how well you knew the deceased or what the circumstances of the death are. However, unless you were personally acquainted with the deceased or his or her family, attending the funeral can be more of an invasion of privacy than anything else. Show your support and respect by honoring the wishes of the family – and if that means giving them space to grieve alone, be sure and keep those boundaries intact.