Funeral etiquette is like an underlying ethical code that you need follow when attending a funeral. Thus, you should learn basic funeral etiquette and use your common sense to show your sympathy and support for the bereaved family.
Though funeral practices and traditions tend to differ from one culture to another still, there are certain social conventions that are common in all the religions and cultures.
For instance, some religions lay emphasis on wearing a black dress to a funeral whereas some prefer white.
Nevertheless, in general, it is advised to wear something tasteful and conservative as the funeral dress code has been relaxed in the modern day society.
In addition, opt for appropriate shoes and avoid wearing too much jewelry or anything too flashy. Plus, it is best to avoid taking small children to funerals and memorial services, unless they are related to the deceased.
In case you are wondering how to comfort the bereaved family and what to say at such a sensitive time then remember that it is best to rely on words straight from your heart to express your sympathy and do not say anything negative.
You may also relate your memories of the deceased and say kind words about him or her.
If you do not know the family, then extent your sympathy politely and move on to give others the opportunity to talk to them.
In addition, do not ask too many questions. When you do not have much to say then be a good listener and let the bereaved members talk and express their feelings.
There are some other common yet neglected gestures that you may want to adopt. They are:
- Arrive early for the service and if possible, park your car a few blocks away.
- Enter your full name in the registry or guest book.
- Funerals usually have a progressive seating pattern, that is, family members sit in the front rows, close friends in the next, followed by acquaintances and co-workers.
- Switch off your cell phone or at least turn off the ringer and keep your conversations on the phone minimal.
- You need not stay for the entire ceremony. So, you may leave early, but do not leave when the prayers are being offered.
Whether you attend the funeral or not, you can get condolence gifts, cards, or flowers for the bereaved family. Gifts usually include remembrance gift baskets, memorial wind chimes, memorial trees, memorial ornaments, and so on.
When sending flowers to the family’s residence, you may consider a small vase of flowers as it signifies continued sympathy for the bereaved family.
Make sure you attach a brief personal note of sympathy as well. At times, instead of getting these gifts, families prefer donations. Thus, you can honor this request followed by a note to the family to inform them.
When going for a condolence visit before or after the funeral, you need not stay there for long. You can simply express your sympathy over the loss and leave within 15 minutes.