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.
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:
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.
It is no longer expected that family and friends dress in black at a funeral, however dark, somber tones are still appropriate. Funeral dress should be conservative and tasteful.
Formality of funeral dress varies from one family to the next. However, very casual clothes or sports attire should be avoided. Simple, conservative clothes that do not draw attention are a respectful choice for family members and guests alike
It doesn't matter if it is flowers, a donation to a charity or a commitment of service to the family at a later date; as always, "it's the thought that counts." Always make sure to provide the family with a signed card, so they know what gift was given, and by whom.
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.
It's sometimes awkward for you to do so, but for most people the grieving doesn't end with a funeral.
Family and close friends may choose to take part in the funeral procession. This is the line of cars that drive together from the funeral to the cemetery. The funeral director will give instructions and provide identification tags, often small flags, to attach to the cars. Cars in the procession should turn their headlights on.
If you make a visit during calling hours there's no reason your stay has to be a lengthy one.
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.
Act according to what is comfortable to you.
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.
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.
Simply say how sorry you are for their loss, offer up your own name and how you knew the deceased.
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.