When someone you know has a loved one pass away, doing or saying nothing is the most comfortable thing to do, but is also the rudest. For showing the person that you are sorry for his loss, as well as following the rules of etiquette, here are some suggestions.
As soon as you see the person, acknowledge his loss. If you will not be able to see him, then a phone call and/or handwritten note would be appropriate.
Find out when the wake and funeral are scheduled, and plan on attending. Funerals are not fun for most people, but remember that funerals are for the living, not for the dead. Going to the funeral of an acquaintance’s loved one will mean so much to the person.
Men should always dress in a dark coat and tie, and women should wear a conservative dress, skirt or suit.
If the person suffering the loss is your boss or your employee, attend the wake and funeral if it is in town. The office should also send flowers to the funeral home. If there is not a budget for this, then take up a collection from your coworkers, or, as the boss, pay for it out of your own pocket.
If you are sending flowers to an acquaintance or coworker, you should spend at least $25, preferably closer to $50 or more. If the person is a friend, then $50 or more for flowers or a donation to a favorite charity would be acceptable.
If you are a friend of the family and are invited to a reception afterwards, bring food for the family. Bring it in a disposable container so the family does not have to return it to you.
If you find out about a funeral after the fact, acknowledge this as soon as possible in person and/or send a handwritten note. In the note, express your sympathy for the loss; an apology for not attending the funeral is also fine.
If you are the one with the loss of a loved one, write thank you notes to all who gave flowers and charitable donations, and brought food. If all or anyone who attended the services touches you, a written note would of course be appreciated.