Josh Willingham traveled to Florence for the funeral, which is scheduled for Sunday. A player is required to remain inactive for at least three days and no more than seven when placed on the bereavement list.
Outfielder Corey Patterson was selected from Triple-A Syracuse to fill in for Willingham during his absence. To make room on the 40-man roster, reliever Terrell Young (right shoulder inflammation) was moved to the 60-day disabled list.
Nationals president Stan Kasten said the team will have a representative at the funeral in support of Willingham.
"Our hearts are breaking for him," Kasten said. "Our whole organization is just saddened and supportive of him in this horrible, horrible time. We're thinking about him and his family, and our hearts go out to all of them."
Manager Manny Acta, who held a brief, closed-door meeting with the players Saturday to break the news, said Willingham should take all the time he needs.
"When some people think you have it rough in life, this comes and slaps you in the face and says, 'Hey, some people have it worse than you have it right now,'" said Acta. "It's just a time, like we told these kids, 'Call your brother, call your sister, call your mom and dad and make sure you keep telling them that you love them and you appreciate them,' because it can go fast. Life is short at times."
Teammate Adam Dunn said he received a text message early Saturday with the bad news. Dunn also spoke briefly with Willingham to express his condolences and offer support.
"Our heart definitely goes out to Josh and his family," Dunn said. "I can't even put that into words, when something happens like that to your brother ... it's bad, man."
Carter Gaddis is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.