If you're lucky, you haven't had much experience attending funerals over the course of your life. If you're new to the process, however, it can feel a little overwhelming when you visit the funeral home and attempt to offer some gentle words to the family in mourning. Many funeral rules are common sense—be respectful and don't draw attention to yourself, for example—but others are a little more subtle. To avoid standing out as a real funeral novice, here are three etiquette rules with which to familiarize yourself.
Speaking To The Family
Whether you're attending a visitation or a funeral service, you'll have an opportunity to speak to the family that has just lost a loved one. This interaction is the most important aspect of your visit and serves as a valuable opportunity to offer your condolences. The key messages to get across are that you're sorry for the family's loss and that you're keeping the family members in your thoughts. You can also share a memory or a story about the person who has passed, but do so briefly. It's poor etiquette to jeopardize too much of the family's time, given that other attendees are waiting to offer their condolences, too.
Sharing Written Condolences
Although some funeral attendees show up with sympathy cards to hand to the family, it's a better approach to mail your sympathy card to the family's home. Doing so gives the family one less thing to think about at the funeral and lessens the risk of your card being forgotten or overlooked. Because it's ideal to keep your in-person conversation with the family brief, the sympathy card is an ideal venue to share a few in-depth memories about your relationship with the person who has passed away. On the topic of written memories, don't use the funeral guestbook to express your sympathy. This book is exclusively used as a record of who attended the event.
Contributing Flowers Or Other Gifts
It's a sign of proper etiquette to have a flower arrangement delivered to the funeral home, but there are many other things you can put your money toward. Check the death notice online and see if the family has any special requests; often, a family will request donations to a health organization or charity in lieu of flowers. In this case, giving flowers is a little in poor taste. If the person who passed away was young, the surviving family members might also set up a fund for the person's children.
If you have further questions about a funeral you're attending soon, or about funerary etiquette in general, contact the local funeral home (such as Elmwood Meunier Funeral Home).