Funeral Etiquette

Many people wonder what is acceptable or what is expected of them when attending a visitation or funeral services. Certainly the accepted customs of dress and behavior in a funeral have changed over time, but courtesy and respect never goes out of style.

Making the Most of a Difficult Time

It certainly is helpful knowing what religious, ethnic or personal considerations you need to take into account. In all cases being respectful of the emotions of close family members will help provide comfort.

Here are a few things expected of you:

  • Offer an expression of sympathy.
    Often it is difficult to think of the most appropriate thing to say to someone that has just experienced a loss. Simply saying "I'm sorry for your loss" is usually enough. Be respectful and listen attentively when spoken to. It isn’t important to say a lot. Simply expressing your sorrow for what they are going through will be well received.
  • Find out the dress code.
    Today, expectations of formal dress are much more relaxed. If you can't learn the wishes of the family, then dress conservatively. You should be comfortable not only with your clothing but with your choice.
  • Give a gift.
    It doesn't matter if it is flowers, a donation to a charity, food 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.
  • Sign the register book.
    Many do not think to acknowledge their relationship to the deceased. Adding co-worker, gym buddy, or casual acquaintance from the golf club next to your name, helps family place who you are in future.

What You Can Do

  1. Offer immediate help such as watching over the house, prepare meals, care for children, run errands, etc.
  2. If the mourner doesn’t feel like talking, don’t force conversation.
  3. Be a good listener. Accept emotional behavior, such as crying or anger.
  4. Everyone mourns in their own way. Don’t tell them how they should feel.
  5. Avoid clichés such as, “it was God’s will” or “he’s in a better place” or “he is out of pain,” etc.
  6. Keep in touch with the mourner, it is never too late to call or visit, but follow his/her lead as to how often. It is never too late to call or visit.
  7. As time goes on, treat the mourner as a normal person, don’t dwell on the loss and avoid pity. Invite him/her to dinner or social functions.

If you have special concerns about an upcoming funeral or memorial service please contact us at (800) 944-9365.

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