Death and Obituary Resources: Funeral Etiquette

Funeral Etiquette: What you need to know...

We have outlined some helpful tips to help you navigate the somber occasion that is the Funeral. Note that this article focuses on the traditional North American funeral customs. Death rituals in other parts of the world vary widely so we suggest you opt to avoid the proceedings.

During this sad time it is important to be mindful of social customs and what is considered to be good manners.

If you are close to the family, making a short and sincere phone call to the bereaved before the funeral is good manners. Please make the conversation quick (15 minutes at the most) as there are probably many others waiting to call. Follow up the phone call with a handwritten card of sympathy. You don't need to be long winded and something heartfelt is best. An email or e-card is really only the correct way to correspond if you are not close enough to have the message delivered by the postal service. Please do not text your sympathies to the bereaved as it is clearly in poor taste.

In some cultures, there will be a visitation at the funeral home. This usually will take place over 2 days with 2 hour time frames. The diseased will be in the coffin at the end of the room ( either open or closed casket). The family members will usually be nearby so you can offer your condolences. It is up to you whether you wish to go up to the diseased. No one will judge you if you feel uncomfortable and wish to forego a visit with the deceased.

Sometimes the funeral will be held right at the funeral home. If the family is religious they will choose to have a church funeral. Often at the funeral there will be a book of condolences to sign. You usually do not have to write anything. The family finds comfort in knowing who attended.

Please be respectful of dress codes at a funeral. Today we are quite a casual society however it is an important event and dressing in tank tops and flip flips can be seen as rude. A suit and tie for men and a simple dark coloured dress for women is totally appropriate. Covering up your tattoos would be a good idea also. This is not a nightclub.Dark coloured jeans can be ok if they are not ripped. Again funeral attire should be respectful. Save your ripped skinny jeans for going out with friends.

If you have been asked to speak at the funeral, do not just wing it. Write down something heartfelt and maybe a story about how you met, or worked together. Save any raunchy stories for the bar later that night. Only make a eulogy if you have been asked. Do not go up out of the blue and use it as a time to vent about past issues.

After the funeral, the family will often host a get together for food and drinks. You can offer to bring something or if you are close to the family, help with the guests. Remember that the family will be exhausted, so do not stay too long and always say goodbye to the bereaved before you leave. It is not the time to drink too much or be too loud.

Hopefully this has helped with some of the basic steps to navigate a funeral.

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