Finding out that a loved one has passed on is a grievous time. Attending a funeral is emotionally stressful for anyone. The last thing you want to happen is not know proper funeral etiquette. Prepare for it in advance with these etiquette guidelines. Exercising common sense and politeness are always beneficial, but funerals have much more to proper conduct than these alone.
A common and important principle is known as the condolence visit. This is when a family member or close friend visits the deceased loved one’s home and offer their sympathy to the deceased individuals spouse and, or children. The condolence visit can be as simple as letting the family know that you are there for emotional support. If you have time capabilities you should consider cleaning, cooking, or caring for the relatives. This is a traditional part of funeral etiquette. Ideally the condolence visit is done within the week leading up to the funeral. You can however choose to do it within two weeks after the funeral as well.
Another aspect of proper etiquette is reflecting on the individual’s life. This should be done at the funeral itself, not the wake. Starting conversation is often difficult during grieving. This is why this principal is important. It helps to ease emotions and brings the attendees of the funerals together socially. Some things that you can reflect on are fond memories that you have with the deceased, their values, personality, and even their sense of humor. In most cases you should avoid asking what their cause of death was.
If the funeral is open casket, you should plan on paying your respects to the deceased. This is a traditional part of American funerals. Attendees form a line in front of the casket and each approaches the family first to give their condolences. Then they stand in front of the casket and take a minute to say a prayer for the deceased or say their last words to them. This is a slow and intimate procession that should not be rushed. If you are attending a funeral you should always do this before taking a seat. It is usually done upon entering the funeral home. This custom is standard, meaning that you must do it to avoid appearing rude or in a hurry. The length of how long you visit with the deceased is up to you, but you should stay for at least a minute before walking away.
After viewing the casket you should sign the register. This is a book that catalogues the number of attendees at the funeral, their names, and any pleasant notes. You do not need to sign it right after paying your respects to the deceased, but it is an appropriate time at most funerals. Depending on how traditional it is you can sign it after the funeral service.
Funeral attire also plays a role in etiquette. While many funerals have relaxed dress code, you should plan on following traditional guidelines. Men should wear a dress suit in black or navy blue. Their hair should be simply styled. Most men opt for slicking their hair back. Women should wear a dress suit as well or mid-calve length skirt or dress. Makeup should be applied minimally and naturally and hair should be simply styled.
Funerals are a difficult time for everyone. If you have not been to one before or simply are interested in learning the proper etiquette, this information can help you. Keep it in mind. Not all funerals nowadays follow traditional guidelines, but many still incorporate some of them. Crying is perfectly acceptable at any funeral and is to be expected, but sobbing loudly during the actual service is impolite. Use a combination of common sense and proper funeral etiquette to present yourself the best way possible.