March 20, 2017 by Miller Funeral & Cremation Services Staff
While it’s not a particularly pleasant experience, the fact remains that the majority of us will attend a funeral or memorial at some point in our lives. For many of us, knowing what to say or how to support the bereaved can be an elusive and intimidating topic. The last thing we want to do is say something clumsy or upsetting, or unwittingly commit a funeral faux pas.
In this digital age, etiquette and traditions can seem confusing as methods of communication and sharing change. The use of technology has especially challenged the way we used to pay our respects. Video, live streams, and other forms of electronic media, for example, are more commonly utilized as a way to include loved ones in a funeral service who are unable to attend. This may seem odd and even inappropriate to some, but come across as a loving gesture to others.
This begs the question, what are the do’s and don’ts of funeral etiquette these days?
Contemporary Funeral Etiquette
Although you may worry about what to say or do, the most important thing to remember is to be present. This may be something as simple as extending your condolences or asking if you can help the family or loved ones in some way.
When attending a funeral, keep the following etiquette tips in mind:
- Avoid using clichés, such as “Now ___ is at peace” or “___ is in a better place.” Instead, speak from the heart, be sincere, and most importantly, listen.
- Don’t be late for the service. In the age of cellphones, running “a few minutes late” has become the norm, but this isn’t appropriate for funerals and can appear disrespectful.
- Put away your politics and feelings about religion. Keep in mind that the service is about the deceased and his or her beliefs. Faith and religion are strong components of many services and tributes.
- If cultural rituals or customs are part of the service or ceremony, don’t be afraid to participate; follow the lead of others in attendance.
- Do not take pictures (especially for social media) unless specifically requested by the family of the departed.
- Don’t just take any seat – the first few rows at any memorial or funeral service are reserved for immediate family and close loved ones.
- Make sure phones, iPads, and other devices are left in the car or powered off.
- It’s ok to bring older children to the funeral as it can be healing for them and their understanding of loss. Before bringing them, assess whether they’re old enough to understand the concept of death and the meaning of the service.
- Black is not the required color of attire for funerals these days, but do dress appropriately as a show of respect.
Once the service is over, remember that the bereaved will be grieving for some time after. When possible, check in on your friend or family member and ask what you can do to assist them during this time (cooking, cleaning, running errands, etc.). You can also send a heartfelt note showing your concern and support.
If you have any additional questions about funeral etiquette, please feel free to contact Miller Funeral & Cremation Services.