Is It OK to Wear Dark Sunglasses to a Funeral?

Updated

During a funeral, there may be a lot of people in attendance exhibiting signs of grief over the loss of a loved one. You could be outside attending a service graveside, where the key accessory may be some tissues or handkerchiefs for people to dab their eyes or blow their nose. But for those who feel a little self-conscious about crying or want to hide from the sun at an outdoor service, they’ll probably be wearing sunglasses.

If you’re curious about whether or not it’s appropriate to wear sunglasses at a funeral, you’re not alone. Below, we’ll present you with several different scenarios on whether to wear or not wear sunglasses. In addition, there are other clothing funeral etiquette topics that may bring up similar questions, such as what to wear and how to dress your children to attend a funeral. 

Jump ahead to these sections:

So… Should You Wear Sunglasses to a Funeral or Memorial Service?

Yes, it is appropriate to wear sunglasses to a funeral or a memorial service. In fact, there may be several reasons why you would want to do so.

The most obvious reason for wearing sunglasses to a funeral or memorial service is if it is sunny, and the event is being held outdoors. Just because you are at a funeral or graveside service doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t protect your eyes from the harsh glare of the sun. 

Of course, there are more emotional reasons for wearing sunglasses to a funeral as well. You may want to hide your puffy eyes that are red from crying as you stand by your loved one’s grave or columbarium niche.

The real question is whether or not it is considered tacky to wear sunglasses during an indoor funeral or memorial service. Whether the event is outside or inside, sunglasses are considered OK in most situations. In this case, there is historical precedence as women used to wear veils to shield their faces on such occasions. 

Consider our following tips if you think you will be crying at a funeral and want to mask your eyes. 

Tips for Styling Sunglasses for a Funeral

No matter what, you will want to do your research prior to attending a funeral as the appropriate funeral dress is dependent upon a wide variety of factors. It varies depending on religious groups, socioeconomic groups, geographic location, and culture. 

While many would not think twice upon seeing someone wear sunglasses during an indoor funeral, others may question this practice and deem it inappropriate. Here are some thoughts to consider on the subject of wearing sunglasses at an indoor service.

Do you feel self-conscious letting others see that you’ve been crying?

We understand that some people are not comfortable expressing emotions in front of others. You may not cry often, and might feel embarrassed by others seeing you sad. However, it is worth remembering that it is OK for you to feel your grief and express your sadness while at a loved one’s funeral. 

As you decide whether or not to take off your sunglasses while indoors at a funeral, you may reflect on this quote attributed to Queen Elizabeth II. She said, “grief is the price we pay for love.” Your tears may show others that you loved the person who died. Showing your tears may make people more comfortable expressing their own emotions as well.

Are your sunglasses appropriate for a funeral?

If you find it necessary to wear sunglasses to a funeral, consider whether your sunglasses are the right style for the occasion. Consider sticking with some muted dark colors or traditional black framed sunglasses if you are unsure.

Can you remove the sunglasses once you are seated?

Most of the time, people sit facing forward at a funeral, and few people would be able to see your face during the service. While you may feel comforted wearing your sunglasses during a processional or recessional, especially if you are a member of the immediate family, you may not find them necessary to wear while staring forward during the service.

Did you bring a tissue?

Wearing sunglasses won’t hide tears from streaming down your face. If you want to hide your sorrow from other funeral attendees, you may also want to bring a tissue so you can unobtrusively dab your eyes during the service.

Can you take off your sunglasses during a conversation?

At some point during the visitation or funeral service, you may have a conversation with a friend or extended family member who would like to offer you condolences. At this point, you may consider taking off your sunglasses, so the other person in the conversation can see your eyes. This piece of etiquette isn’t necessary if the conversation takes place on a sunny day outdoors. 

Can you see safely enough to move?

It is probably likely that you would want to take off your sunglasses in order to look while you’re walking. Keep in mind that while you may feel self-conscious, this is a collective moment of mourning and no one will begrudge you for having teary eyes or a blotchy face. Err on the side of caution and make sure you are able to walk around safely with your sunglasses on.

What does wearing sunglasses during an indoor funeral say to the other attendees?

Wearing sunglasses during an indoor event such as a funeral may say to others, “please leave me be.” Some folks may be less likely to approach you during the event if they can’t see your eyes.

More Tips for Getting Dressed for a Funeral

Dressing for a funeral does not always mean putting on a dark suit or dress. Here are some other more modern ideas for getting dressed for a funeral.

Look for tips on how to dress in the obituary

When pre-planning their own funeral, some people leave instructions on how they want their mourners to dress. Look for such instructions in the obituary. Examples of this may include wearing a specific color that the deceased enjoyed or wearing sports paraphernalia in support of their favorite team.

Wear something you know the deceased would have enjoyed

Did your aunt pride herself on her fashionista tendencies? Wear a fabulous outfit to her funeral that she would have appreciated — complete with the large sunglasses and high-heeled shoes. Did your grandfather hate dressing up for formal occasions? Wear jeans and a work shirt — just as your grandfather would have worn. 

Don’t break the bank when dressing your children to attend a funeral

Buying dark suits, dresses, and dress shoes for your whole family may cost a small fortune. If you want your children to dress formally, consider borrowing clothes from friends or checking second-hand shops. Your children may only get one use out of the articles of clothing before they outgrow them.

Try on your funeral clothes well in advance of attending the event

If you don’t often wear black dress pants or a more formal top, make sure you try on those clothes as soon as you know that you’ll be attending a funeral. You don’t want to get dressed for the funeral only to find that the outfit you planned no longer fits. 

Consider the weather for an outdoor funeral

Check the weather report before you dress for an outdoor funeral. Consider short sleeves as part of your summer funeral attire. Dress in plenty of layers for funerals held outside during frigid temperatures. You want to be comfortable enough to focus on what is being said at the funeral instead of not being able to pay attention because it’s too hot or too cold.

Wearing Sunglasses at a Funeral

As you prepare to attend a funeral, there are several other items you might want to grab. Besides your sunglasses, don’t forget to bring tissues or a handkerchief. Consider bringing some extra tissues to share with others. No matter what you wear or what you bring, remember that you are there to share in the communal expression of grief over the loss of a loved one. Being present to show your love and support is what matters.

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