Monday, January 5, 2009

Funeral Etiquette

No, it's not a fun topic, certainly not upbeat, but one that needs to be addressed. We've talked about bereavement in some forms and these are just some tidbits that I'd like to add about funerals and funeral services.

Attire- Muted colors are appropriate unless you have been given specific instruction to wear bright colors...I did attend a funeral like that once. White and red are generally not seen at funerals and should be avoided, unless the "white" is a white button up shirt for men or women.

Viewing- The most recent viewing I attended had a line where we were able to meet and greet family members of the deceased if we didn't know them, and to say hello and convey our sympathies and offer very short sentences or memories about what we may have remembered. This time to see the family is to be kept brief. They have many people who want their attention and want to offer their sympathies and it's always kind to think of the people having to stand in that line as well and how difficult it must be.

Service- It is customary for those in attendance to stand while the casket is brought into the room, or if the casket is already in the room, it is customary at times to stand, if so instructed, while the family enters the funeral.

Procession to cemetery- Please, please...even if you know where the burial site is, please wait until the hearse and any other family cars have left before you follow. Keep your lights on so that others in traffic might be aware that you are in a funeral procession.

Other thoughts: It's always a good idea in my opinion, to trust what you feel. Don't let fear or what others say hinder you from making a phone call to the family or sending a letter of condolence. I have said before and I will say again, we will regret the decisions to treat others poorly in this life, that is what I believe we will regret when we are older...or even gone depending upon what your beliefs are. Personally, I would want to know that I was loved and cared for, even if I didn't answer the phone.

If you are a friend or family member and can offer any assistance, again, look at this post for some ideas of what you can do that might be helpful.

Its also a good idea to remember that there is a lot of initial attention given to those who are bereaved, but that soon, we go back to our lives and hope that they have gone on with theirs or that they aren't as sad anymore. The truth is that the pain of losing someone doesn't ever go away, it just dulls a bit over time, or those sad times when you think of them come less frequently, but there is always enough room for everyone to help.


Anonymous said...

Janine, it's hearse and not hertz -- I'm sure you're spelling checker made that change!

Janine said...

No, it was me...having no brain...:-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind thoughts and tender report. It's always hard to know what to say or not say. Remembering that it's about the ones left behind helps. Sounds like you learned a lot through this recent experience....thanks for sharing it with all of us. It's unfortunate that the person that found your spelling error could not have focused on the positive things you did print, rather than finding the only error...People are interesting. Keep up the good work and don't let negative comments get you down.

The Masked Mommy said...

I have a question. I heard that children are supposed to wear white to funerals, not black. Is that true? If so, would black still be acceptable?

Janine said...

Masked Mommy- That is very tender and would seem appropriate if it were my family...but when attending another's funeral, we want to show the up most respect and we can do that by dressing everyone in dark muted colors, children included. The exception would be, like I mentioned, if you were told differently or if it's your immediate, and I do mean immediate family member; then that is left to your discretion.

The Masked Mommy said...

Good to know. Thank you. I don't know why my mom said they were supposed to wear white, but it didn't sound right to me either. It's great to have a place to come with questions like these!

Hiatt Family said...

I think this blog is a great idea! I know when I lost my son, it was actually harder as time went on, because people go on with their lives & expect you to do the same. I really appreciated notes on his bday, etc. That let me know that others realized how much this loss had affected me. Also, I know that some people think it is more polite to not mention the loss, but I disagree. If it's too hard to express sympathy to the person's face, then I think a note is a wonderful idea. Thanks for your tips. They are great!!!

Heather said...

My mom always told us this as well:
"Never go to a funeral or wedding with a dirty car! A car with mud caked on it has no place at such an occasion..."

Janine said...

Heather- What a thoughtful mother...that's a great thought. Thank you all for your comments and suggestions, they are wonderful and insightful.