A funeral is a time to honor and remember the life of a loved one who has passed away. It offers friends an opportunity to express their sympathy, give emotional support, and share their grief with the family. It is an important step in the grieving process that helps the family come to terms with the death of a loved one.
It is proper to pay tribute at the visitation of a friend or family member who has passed, or to come and express your sympathy to a friend, co-worker, or acquaintance who is experiencing a loss. Although attending could be an uncomfortable time, knowing how to properly present yourself can ease these feelings.
Keep in mind you should consider any religious, ethnic, or family customs that could be specific to the funeral or visitation that you are attending. Below is just a list of general funeral etiquette that is encouraged.
If you are wondering whether or not you should attend a funeral or visitation, just go. It is nice to support the family even if you did not know the person who passed away. Your presence and words help the family deal with grief.
Don't Be Afraid to Leave
Once you have signed the register book, expressed condolences to the family, and visited with acquaintances, you may leave. Do not worry that you must stay for a long period of time.
What to Say
When at a funeral or visitation, you should always offer condolences to the family. Saying something as simple as "I am truly sorry for your loss" or "You have my sympathy" is adequate. If you do not think the family will know who you are, it is nice to say your name and how you knew their loved one. You could even tell them a good memory you have about that person. It is kind to listen to the family members if they are telling you how they feel. The visitation and funeral are times for the family to receive support, and those times are important for them.
It's Okay to Smile
Just because you are at a somber event does not mean that you cannot talk to people you know, or smile and share good memories of the deceased. Moments such as these are comforting to the family.
Sign Guest Book
A guest book is available to sign; families appreciate the opportunity to reflect upon all who paid their respects.
Turn Cell Phones Off
Turn your phones off or on silent before entering the funeral home, as ringing cell phones can be disruptive to services.
Donations and Gifts
It is your option to give a donation in honor of the person who passed to the organization of the family's choice. Flowers also offer a kind gesture.
Keep children supervised and prevent disruptive behavior. Well-mannered children are always appreciated by family and friends.
Be on Time
Being on time is very important. Try to make it at least fifteen minutes before services begin. If you are going to be a pallbearer, it is best to arrive at least a half an hour ahead of time in order to receive directions from the funeral director.