It is a common gesture for close friends of the bereaving family to visit the family's home to offer sympathy and assistance - this is sometimes referred to as a condolence visit. With the bereaving family having to ensure that all the arrangements are looked after, a close friend(s) may become very helpful with food preparation and childcare. The visit can take place any time within the first few weeks of death, and may be followed with one or more additional visits, depending on the circumstances and your relationship with the family.
As with other aspects of modern day society funeral dress codes have relaxed somewhat. Black dress is no longer required. Instead subdued or darker hues should be selected, the more conservative the better. After the funeral the family often receives invited visitors to their home for pleasant conversation and refreshments.
You can send flowers to the funeral home prior to the funeral, or to the family residence at any time. In some cases flowers may also be sent to Protestant churches. (Flowers generally are not sent to Jewish synagogues and Catholic churches.) Florists know what is appropriate to send in the funeral context.
Gifts in memory of the deceased are often made, particularly when the family has requested gifts in lieu of flowers. The family is notified of the gifts by personal note from the donor or through the donee, if the donee is a charity or other organization. In the latter case the donor provides the family's name and address to the charity at the time the gift is made.
Even if you don't make a gift, a note or card to the deceased's family expressing your thoughts of the deceased is a welcome gesture, especially if you weren't able to attend the funeral.
The reason for writing this article got me thinking at the last funeral I attended yesterday. What was the appropriate attire that I should have worn. Most were in black but only a few were not in black clothing. Guess I will be going out and purchasing clothing that is black so that from now on I will not feel out of place when someone with some importance passes away.
I hope this is helpful to others but for future reference and not during this holiday season.