Like everything in society, funeral etiquette and what is expected of you has evolved over time. As always common sense and good discretion is the best guide to proper funeral etiquette. Here are a few do’s and don’ts of funeral etiquette.
- Express your condolences – It’s not easy to come up with the words to offer sympathy to someone who has just lost a loved one. You don’t need to be a poet, simply saying something like “I am sorry for your loss, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family” is enough. If you can’t be at a funeral service in person, sending a card or leaving a message on a memorial website is a way to express your sympathy.
- Dress appropriately – Gone are the days of dressing up in all black for a funeral. Wearing what you would wear for a job interview or something professionally casual would be appropriate.
- Sign the register book – The family will keep the register book as a memento for years. During calling hours or at the funeral the family will see many people and by sighning the book this will help them remember your thoughtfulness.
- Give a gift – If you feel you would like to do more then attend calling hours and/ or the service, suitable gifts include; flowers, a donation to the charity of the family’s choice, or you can make a commitment of service to the family now or at a later date. A commitment of service can be something as simple as cooking them dinner, mow the lawn or offering to clean their house, any of the “little” things that may be neglected while a family deals with death. Make sure you provide a signed card so the family knows who gave the gift.
- Keep in Touch – You may feel that the family needs their space and time to grieve, but a simple phone call or note after the funeral lets the family know you care. With social networking leaving a quick note is as simple as a click of a mouse. The months following a death is when grieving friends and family need the most support.
- Bring your cell phone – Silence your phone. A funeral is not the time to be texting or checking your messages.
- Be afraid to remember the good times – Funerals are obviously a time of grieving and mourning, but remembering the good times helps with the healing process. Sharing a funny and appropriate story is acceptable, and in some cases exactly what the deceased would have wanted.
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