By the time an armed forces veteran reaches middle age, it's likely that he or she has been to countless veteran's funerals as a way to honor fallen comrades. If you haven't served in the armed forces, however, you perhaps haven't attended such a service—and might feel anxious when you're getting ready to go to your first one. It's important to know that there's nothing to be afraid about, but you will get to see a ceremony that is markedly different from other funerals you've attended.

The proliferation of veterans in attendance means that you'll likely find yourself conversing with some before or after the service. Here are some tips for talking to them.

Ask About How They Knew the Deceased

It can be a nice conversation starter, when you're face to face with a veteran and wish to exchange pleasantries, to ask how he or she knew the person who has passed away. In some cases, there won't be a personal connection, as many veterans attend veteran's funerals as a sign of respect. However, in many other cases, the veteran will have an interesting story to tell you, perhaps even about serving together overseas. Try to empathize with the veteran and show sympathy for his or her loss once it becomes clear that the veteran had a personal bond with the deceased.

Remember That the Funeral Isn't Story Time

Many people enjoy hearing veterans speak about their service, especially if the stories involve combat or other events that the average perhaps may find intriguing. Remember, however, that this isn't story time. Although some veterans will openly speak about being in combat, others will not—and for all, this is a deeply personal and often emotional topic. Don't try to get the veteran to tell you more for your personal enjoyment or interest. Remember, you're in attendance to honor the life of the veteran who has passed away.

Express Your Gratitude

Whenever you're speaking to an armed forces veteran, it's a good idea to express your appreciation for his or her service. Even at a veteran's funeral, you shouldn't hesitate to offer this sentiment when you're exchanging pleasantries with a vet. While he or she may largely wish to speak about some memories of the veteran who has passed away, and you may be interested in hearing more, always remember to close the conversation by thanking the veteran for protecting your freedom.

To learn more, contact services that provide veterans funeral packages.