Funeral Etiquette

The accepted customs of dress and behavior in a funeral have changed over time, but courtesy never goes out of style. Here’s what is important to know about funeral etiquette.

Making the Most of a Difficult Time

It’s important to know if there are religious, ethnic or personal considerations to be considered. It’s also important to be respectful of the emotions of close family members.

Here are just a few things to keep in mind:

- Offer an expression of sympathy.
Sometimes we are at a loss for words when encountering something as final as death. Simply saying "I'm sorry for your loss" is usually enough. Be respectful and listen attentively when spoken to.   Offering your own words of condolence is always appropriate, but avoid the old clichés such as "they had a good or long life" or "they're in a better place".

- Find out the dress code.
These days almost anything goes, but only when you know it's the right thing. In fact, sometimes the deceased has specified the dress code; 'no black' is a common request. If you can't learn the wishes of the family, then dress conservatively by avoiding shorts, strapless/backless attire, and "flip flops".

- If considering a gift.
It doesn't matter if it is flowers, a donation to a charity, a commitment of service to the family at a later date, or a card. As always, "it's the thought that counts."  However, always make sure to provide the family with a signed card & a way they can contact you, so they know what gift was given, by whom, and how they may contact you to say thank you.

- Sign the register book.
Include not only your name, but your relationship to the deceased: co-worker, gym buddy, or casual acquaintance from the golf club. This helps family place who you are in future.

- Keep in touch.
It's sometimes awkward for you to do so, but for most people the grieving doesn't end with a funeral.  When the flowers are gone and life quiets down, many times the survivors have a heightened sense of loss....don't forget them during holidays and don't feel uncomfortable mentioning the name of their loved one.  It is important to let them know their loved one is not forgotten.

But, What Shouldn't You Do?

- Don't feel that you have to stay.
If you make a visit during calling hours there's no reason your stay has to be a lengthy one.

- Don't be afraid to laugh.
Remembering their loved one fondly can mean sharing a funny story or two. Just be mindful of the time and place; if others are sharing, then you may do so too. There is no reason you shouldn't talk about the deceased in a happy, positive tone.

- Don't feel you have to view the deceased if there is an open casket.
Do whatever is most comfortable for you.

- Don't allow your children to be a disturbance.
If you feel they might be, then leave them with a sitter. If the deceased meant something to them, it's a good idea to invite them to share in the experience, however, if they are young, limiting their time at the funeral home may be best.  Please be respectful of others at the funeral home, as children running and yelling is not always a comfort to others.

- Don't leave your cell phone on.
Switch it off before entering the funeral home, or better yet, leave it in the car. All too often, we hear cell phones ringing during the services which is disrupting to the service.

- Don't neglect to step into the receiving line.
Simply say how sorry you are for their loss, introduce yourself and mention how you knew the deceased.

- Don't be too hard on yourself if you make a mistake.
Everyone does, and you can be sure that an apology may be all that's needed to mend and soothe.

When it's all over, always remember to continue to offer support and love to the bereaved. The next few months are a time when grieving friends and relatives could need you most. Let them know that your support did not end with the funeral.

We are Here to Help

Perhaps you've got special concerns about an upcoming funeral or memorial service? We're here to provide the answers you're looking for. Call us at 989-892-3923 .