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So, my new story has a funeral scene in it. It serves as an introduction to the story & it is a critical scene. (Think of it as Death at a Funeral the movie but minus the comedy.)

Problem is: I have absolutely no idea how to write a sombre funeral scene.

Many people have been suggesting to write from experience but I've only attended one funeral. It was my grandfather's and I am ashamed to admit that I was more curious than grieving because it was the first time in my entire life that I was having an experience with death.

Most of the times I've tried writing the scene, the characters come off as oddly cheerful. Almost as if they were not attending a funeral. So, I've just decided to pose several questions:

1. How would a strong, elegant woman act at the funeral of her daughter?
2. How about the father who always doted on her?
3. What about the sister the deceased betrayed by sleeping with her boyfriend?
4. The best frenemy? (The best friend who is also an enemy.)

And is it alright if everyone welcomed back an estranged family member at the funeral so readily? Or will they hiss & boo?

Thanks for your input!
I've been to a couple funerals in my life. I'd seperate the funeral into three segments: the meet and greet, the funeral, and the get together.

The meet and greet is when everyone is arriving to the funeral and is saying the typical "I'm sorry for your loss" to the close family of the deceased. People talk to the other attendees, and it doesn't always have to be about the funeral itself. People do use this as a time to catch up, too. However, it's always in a somber tone. Such as people don't have much inflection in their voice other than saddness. I guess some a word you could use would be "mumble" and other ways to make it seem that people are talking in softer/gentler voices than normal.

The funeral part is a part where everyone is quiet (expect for the speakers) and are reflecting about the life of the deceased. (This would be a great time for inner monologue.) The speakers may or may not end of choking on their words because they start crying. Also, depending on a person's closeness to the deceased, this is usually the time people break down crying.

The get together is after the funeral and everyone gathers in the church's recreation center and usually has a meal. This is when people talk and chit-chat and catch up. It's a little more lively than the meet and greet. Also, this happened at one funeral I was at, there was a part where people would stand up and share stories about the deceased one to remember their life in a positive way. It's supposed to reflect on the happiness they had in life.

To answer all of your numbered questions, it depends on the character's personality. I have my own ideas of what a character would say or do, but that doesn't mean your characters would do the same. I'll try to answer a little more in depth since that was pretty vague.

1. It depends if this woman is putting on appearances for the other people, if she's trying to be strong for her children, or if the loss of her child upsets her so much that she breaks down absolutely bawling. It all depends on what kind of personality she has. I don't know enough about the woman to tell you how she'd act.

2. (Same as number one.)

3. Along with what I stated previously, I think you should also take into account how recent the betrayal happened and when the sister found out about it. Perhaps the sister is so torn by her love for her deceased sister and the new-found hate that she's bawling her eyes out as well. Or maybe she's consumed so much by hate that she scoffs at her sister's casket (or urn).

4. I have no context for the relationship she had or what events happened between frenemy and deceased friend so I can't put any suggestions here.

As for the estranged family member I think it depends on what that person did. If it was something downright hateful (like they raped the deceased girl) then I doubt they'd be happy to see them. Even at a funeral. (I've had a couple 'estranged' family members at some of my family funerals, but it didn't make me like them any more.) Still, it depends on how the people think of the estranged family member. People don't tend to forgive people if they themselves haven't done anything to prove themselves worthy again.

All in all, it boils down to who your characters are and understanding their personalities enough to know how they would act in this situation since it's different for everyone. Not everyone cries at funerals. Not everyone is sad at them. Hope some of this helped you and good luck writing.
I don't think I've ever been to a funeral that was truly somber, a few people cry (and others try to comfort them) but there's also alot of reminiscing and joking. I imagine a person that didn't know the deceased very well would feel out of place, which could help set a more serious mood.

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