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.
- Find out the dress code.
Sometimes the deceased has specified the dress code. If you are unsure of the family wishes, then dress conservatively.
- Give a gift.
It is not necessary to give a gift to the family. However, you may choose to send flowers, provide food at the visitation or funeral luncheon, give a donation to a charity, or commit to being of service to the family at a later date. Please note that it is always a good idea to provide a signed card with the name(s) of those who gave the gift so that the family will know who to acknowledge.
- Sign the register book.
Simply sign your name in the register book, or you may wish to also include your relationship to the deceased. Usually the register book is placed inside the funeral home chapel or at the entrance of the funeral service location. This allows the family to have your presence documented in the deceased's memorial book.
- Keep in touch.
The grieving doesn't end with a funeral. Try to stay in touch with the family as best as you can to let them know that you care and are available to hlep, if needed.
But, What Shouldn't You Do?
- Don't feel that you have to stay.
If you make a visit during calling hours, there is 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 the deceased meant something to your children, it's a good idea to invite them to share in the experience. However, do help them to be mindful of those who are also grieving.
- Don't leave your cell phone on.
Make sure to turn off or set your phone on silent before entering the funeral home. You can always check your messages privately outside or in the funeral home lounge area.
- 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
Do you have special concerns about an upcoming funeral or memorial service? Please feel free to contact us at (618) 654-2133.