Funerals are events that we all, at some time or another, will likely attend. And yet, in spite of this fact, how one prepares for and behaves at a funeral is not a topic that is often discussed openly. Here is a list of some important DOs and DON'Ts for funeral etiquette that can help you avoid any uncomfortable blunders.
Tardiness is generally understood as impolite in any situation, but this is especially the case when it comes to attending a funeral service. These events are very difficult for those involved as is, being often very stressful to organize in addition to the feelings of loss being experienced. As such, the last thing you would want to do as an attendee is disrupt the service with a late arrival.
Though wearing head-to-toe black is not necessarily expected in today's culture, dressing appropriately is still key. Depending on the venue, Business or Business casual attire is suitable for funeral wear. In some cases, there might even be an indication on the invitation regarding the expected attire. For more ideas, look at our articles on what to wear to a funeral for both women and men.
Offering words of kindness is perhaps the best thing that one can do when attending a funeral. However, though sharing condolences face-to-face is more personal, if you are unable to attend a funeral service, sending a message of sympathy can be a thoughtful alternative. Sending flowers is generally seen as a more heartfelt way to show you care than simply sending a card. Furthermore, though offering money is often understood as impersonal, it is thoughtful to send a charitable donation to a foundation in honor of the deceased. Take a look at our guest post by Suzie Kolber offering suggestions on how to best express your condolences.
Texting and making or receiving phone calls during a service is a big no-no. It is very disruptive to those around you, and gives the impression that you are not especially interested in the events going on. Such behaviour can easily be construed as hurtful to those who are grieving, even if that is not your intention. So just to ere on the side of caution, it is best to power off your phone and keep it tucked away.
The way a funeral is planned out is the product of the wishes of both the deceased, as well as their family. As such, don't be critical of what is and isn't included as part of the service proceedings, but rather be respectful of the choices that have been made to put together the event. If you are aware that there are specific religious or cultural practices that are going to be included as part of the service, consider doing some preparatory research ahead of time so that you feel more comfortable when they take place.
At the end of the day, you are there to pay your respects to the deceased and their family. Simply being there and observing the ceremony is appreciated- don't sweat the small stuff.
Do you have any other suggestions? Share them along with your personal experience in the comment section below!