You’ve got a distant relative’s funeral to go to this weekend and as you’re getting ready, all these pressing questions pop into your mind. What is the best thing you can say? What are good gestures you can do for the family? How do I best respect the family and friends that will be there?
To help answer those questions we have put a guide together of suggestions for what to do and what not to do at a funeral. For some, a funeral is a place of release and meditation, allowing them to say goodbye to those lost and moved on. For others, it may be a very uncomfortable situation and not knowing what to expect can make it difficult to be sure how to act in a respectful and appropriate manner. The following tips will help you feel ready and comfortable as you attend any funeral service.
What You Should Do
Attend the services: It may seem simple but loved ones take comfort in SEEING people and knowing they have come to pay their respects and offer love and support. They often take note of who attended the funeral services and find strength in a good support system. Do your best to be there and be on time!
Turn OFF your cell phone: In this ever-changing world, technology has become a big focus in many of our lives. It is important to turn your phone off, so you are able to “tune in” to your surroundings and give undivided attention to your family and friends. Remember, taking any pictures is most likely not appropriate.
Be Engaged and Present: Even though there are usually no words that will comfort or make your loved ones feel better about the passing of someone close to them, one of the most important things you can do is to be engaged and understanding. Sometimes a hug and silence is the best remedy in these situations.
What You Shouldn’t Do
Don’t underdress: It is proper etiquette to NOT wear jeans or scrubby clothes to a formal occasion. A funeral is a place to pay tribute to a loved one who has passed and you should always try to wear your “Sunday best”. Black or khaki slacks, a dress for the women and/or a collared shirt with a tie is always appropriate. Check out our past blog What Not to Wear to help you get dressed.
Don’t laugh or make jokes: …unless it’s appropriate to the family and setting. Funerals are often a quiet time for reflection and remembrance. Although you may have mixed emotions about the situation, refrain from laughing or even telling jokes. On the other hand, if the family has expressed that they would like to tell funny stories about their loved one who has passed away, then abide by the wishes of those closest to the deceased.
Don’t discuss inappropriate topics: Keep conversations about your poor health, family issues or other grave topics to a minimum. The moment is already sad and it is important to remain focused on the grieving family and their departed loved one. Also be aware that this is not the place to network for new business, sell your next big idea or look for a hot date. Remember to be respectful to the family and their grief in any conversation you have.
It’s never a bad idea to talk to your family and friends who have had these experiences in the past to help prepare you for what to expect and what to do. Having an understanding of the situation you will be in at a funeral is pertinent to putting your best foot forward in the situation, especially if you have never attended one before. Now that you’ve read our suggestions, you should be prepared to attend the funeral service and make the rest of your family proud.
Do you have any funeral etiquette ideas to help those who are attending their first funeral? Make sure to comment on our Facebook page and share with your friends.