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Funeral Etiquette: What to Do Before, During and After a Funeral

If you’ve never attended a funeral before (or even if you have attended one), you may have some questions about the process. Of course, each funeral is unique and your participation in it is dependent on your relationship to the person who has passed; there are certain rules of etiquette that apply to nearly every circumstance, however - before, during and after the event.

Before the Funeral

Decide if it’s right to go. The first question you should ask yourself is whether or not it is appropriate for you to attend someone’s funeral. While this may seem like an odd thing to consider, it’s important to understand the effect your presence could have.

Generally speaking, you don’t need to receive a formal invitation to attend a funeral, and grieving families appreciate the support your attendance provides. But if there is a chance that your being there might upset the family for any reason, then it’s best to steer clear.

Send flowers (or a card). Whether you choose to send them to the deceased’s family or to the funeral home, flowers are a lovely way to convey your respect. Of course, a simple card can be just as caring; keep your writing brief and focus on how much you’re thinking of the family during such a difficult time. Dropping food off at the family’s home is another great way to support those who might not be up to cooking, too.

During the Funeral

Arrive early. The last thing you want to do is interrupt a funeral service by getting there late. Be sure to arrive at least 10 minutes beforehand in order to get settled and avoid potential disruption.

Respect the seating arrangement. In a seated funeral service, the first two or three rows of seats are typically reserved for family and intimate friends of the person who has passed. You should base where you sit on the closeness of your relationship with the deceased and his or her family. 

Dress conservatively. While all black is no longer a requirement, standard funeral dress code etiquette still exists; this is not the time to wear casual clothing like shorts or jeans, and anything overly revealing is a no-no. Stick to muted tones and err on the side of formality.

Don’t bring small children. Older kids may appreciate having the opportunity to honor a beloved family figure. Very young children will have trouble understanding the purpose of the occasion, however, and may also become restless during the service. If you can, ask someone to look after small children at home so that you can focus your attention on the funeral and not feel stressed out about keeping kids quiet and entertained.

Turn your phone off or silence the ringer. Avoid looking at your phone during the service; reading or texting will be construed as insensitive by others, even if you think you’re being discreet. If you need to answer a call or a text, leave the service beforehand.

After the Funeral

Be moderate. Many funeral services are followed by a reception, where friends and family members can gather together to reminisce and celebrate their loved love in a more relaxed atmosphere. These gatherings typically include food and drinks. While it’s perfectly fine (and encouraged) to partake in some refreshment, be sure not to overindulge, particularly with regard to alcohol. Now is definitely not the time to drink too much and risk doing something you might regret later.

Stay in touch. One of the hardest things about losing a loved one is coping with the sadness that remains once funeral-related events are over and everyone has gone their separate ways. It’s important to check in with those who are grieving and to let them know you’re there for them in the weeks and months after their loved one has passed.

Funerals can be emotional occasions, and it’s easy to feel nervous about doing and saying the right thing. But by following a few basic rules of etiquette, you can provide comfort and support to a grieving family when they need it the most.

Do you have other questions about funeral etiquette? Titan Casket is dedicated to providing you with the answers you need. Let us be your trusted ally in planning the funeral you want at an affordable, fair price. Contact us in the chat window or here to get started.

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