The accepted customs of dress and behavior in a funeral have changed over time, but courtesy never goes out of style. Here’s what we’d like you to know about funeral etiquette.
Making the Most of a Difficult Time
It’s important to know what religious, ethnic or personal considerations you need to take into account. And it’s also important to be respectful of the emotions of close family members.
Here are a few things expected of you:
- 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, and offer your own words of condolence.
- What to wear.
These days almost anything can be appropriate. Long past are the days of mandatory coats and ties, fancy dresses and dark colors. But how you choose to dress reflects both your values and the importance of the relationship. Dress not to impress...but to show respect and honor.
- Consider doing something.
A kind offer to help, flowers, food, a charitable donation, sharing photographs or special memories in a letter after the service- all of these can touch the heart of a grieving family. Remember, a kindness shared during the days and weeks following the funeral can be expecially cherished and appreciated.
- 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.
You may be reluctant to make a call or drop by for a visit because you don't know what to say or talk about. Just be yourself and let them know you care. A call, a note, an invitation to lunch or dinner means a great deal to a person who now feels lost and isolated. Don't let them feel 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 simply no good 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.
Act according to what is comfortable to you.
- Don't allow your children to be a disturbance.
If you feel they might be, then leave them with a sitter. But, if the deceased meant something to them, it's a good idea to invite them to share in the experience.
- 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 see people checking their cell phones for messages during the services.
- Don't neglect to step into the receiving line.
Simply say how sorry you are for their loss, offer up your own name and 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 (409) 886-4445.