If you made it through the wake (see last week’s post), then you survived the hardest part of the funeral process or at least the most uncomfortable part. The funeral service itself is easy in terms of etiquette but it is often the most emotional part of the process. This is the last time that family and friends will physically get to be with the deceased, making it extremely hard to say the last goodbyes. But we can’t lose sight of the purpose of a funeral- to honor and remember. The deceased deserves to have a rightful passage into the afterlife and it’s the duty of those that are left behind to make sure that happens.
There really isn’t much for you, as an attendee, to do at a funeral service. If you are respectful, sympathetic, and just use your common sense you will do and say all the right things. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
*Dress in darker, appropriate clothing. Many websites that I looked at say that wearing bright colors to a funeral is no longer inappropriate but I personally disagree. People are in the process of mourning and there is no reason they need to be bombarded with a bright pink blouse. Darker colors are respectful and show that you are mourning as well. And again, keep the amount of skin showing to a minimum.
*Don’t feel uncomfortable with tears. Funerals are very emotional. If a family member or friend starts crying as you are talking to them, don’t feel uncomfortable. Let them cry, it’s heathly to openly express emotions. The vice versa applies here too. If you start crying as you are talking to someone else don’t feel embarrassed, it’s perfectly normal.
*When you arrive at the site of the funeral (wherever that may be), it’s appropriate to find family members of the deceased and offer your condolences if you happen to see them. But the same rules apply here too- be brief. Also, if you don’t know the family well, identify yourself and your relationship with the deceased.
*Usually the first couple rows of seating are reserved for immediate family. If you are a friend or co-worker you should sit further back unless you are told otherwise by the family.
*It’s always appropriate to send a memorial gift. Whether you send flowers to the family or something as simple as a mass card or sympathy card. It’s just an extra way to let the family know you are thinking of them and are truly sorry for their loss.
*If there is a register book at the funeral- sign it. Leave all necessary information that it asks for and sometimes it is a good idea to briefly explain your relationship to the deceased so the family doesn’t feel like a bunch of strangers came to the funeral.
*If you are going to be part of the funeral procession to the cemetery, take your proper place behind the hearse and cars of immediate family members and turn on your headlights/blinkers so other cars on the road know you are a part of the procession.
*At the cemetery there may be seats set up around the grave site. These are for immediate family and should be reserved for such.
*The most important part (and the one often forgotten) is to keep in touch with the family afterwards. Especially if you are close with the family, a quick phone call or visit every now and then lets them know that people are still thinking about them. The hardest part of the mourning process is going back to your everyday life without your loved one. People get so wrapped up in resuming their own lives that they often forget about the family. Honor the deceased by extending a helping hand in the months to come.
See? You shouldn’t be scared of the funeral service. As sad as a funeral can be, it’s also a time to remember the good memories and honor the deceased’s accomplishments. Your sincere condolences and support is all the family is looking for. Don’t get wrapped up in acting a certain way- as in all other circumstances, just be your own ‘lipstick confident’ self.