COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT APPROPRIATE FUNERAL ETIQUETTE
Death is something most people deal with on rare occasions, therefore when someone close to you dies you may experience uncertainty about the proper actions to take. While all families deal with grief differently, there are a few things you can do to alleviate their stress. Below are common practices that occur after the death of someone. We have provided some common questions and suggestions to make this time a bit easier on both you and the family of the deceased. If you have any questions that have not been addressed below, please feel free to email or call us at 715-344-4223. We would be more than happy to assist you.
EXPRESSIONS OF CARING
1. Should I visit the family's home?
Visiting the family home is a thoughtful expression of caring. Be sure to always call first. Do not just stop by in the days prior to the services. The family may be overwhelmed with the raw emotions related to their recent loss; in addition to planning future services. If you do get a chance to visit, fifteen minutes is a good time frame. Anything more can be a bit overwhelming.
In the days, months, and years following the death and funeral services; visiting those who have felt the sting of loss is an important part of helping them to heal and cope.
2. Should I offer my help?
Offering your help prior, during, and after the funeral services is greatly appreciated and valued by the family. When offering your support, do not give an open ended statement of your willingness to help. Families generally feel uncomfortable calling you for assistance. Offer to help with a specific task. Past traditions include: providing food, childcare, or running special errands. -Please keep in mind when offering your help and a sympathetic ear not to make decisions or offer your personal opinions.
3. Should I take food?
For decades offering food has been a tradition with helping families maintaining their diet at home; providing nourishment at visitations and viewings; and offering a time of fellowship and luncheon after funeral ceremonies. Providing a meal for the family is a wonderful gesture and time saver. Meals that are easy to transport and easy to reheat, are the best ideas.
4. Should I send flowers and a card?
Sending flowers and cards are a great way to let a family know that you are thinking of them. But they should not be a substitution for attending the viewing and visitation if you are able to. Flowers and cards convey to the family that you care and took extra time out of your day to acknowledge their hardships.
VISITATION & VIEWING
Attending the Visitation and Viewing is of great importance. It is a family night where grief and reverence is shared by all; a life is honored and memories are reminisced. It is a setting for the community and friends to gather and express their condolences. It is time to make real the death of a family member, a great friend, or a respected acquaintance.
Whether there is a traditional family line or casual open mingling of attendees, many people ask the same questions.
1. What is appropriate to say to someone at this time?
Telling the family how much you respected or cared about their loved one, sharing fond memories, or just expressing your deepest sympathy is often enough. Avoid phrases that may be well intended but that can be misinterpreted, such as: "They are better off now.", "I've been through this too", "In time you will be fine", or "Time will heal all". In addition, it is oftentimes more appropriate to avoid discussing the cause or manner of death. Remember; just being present shows that you care and is often more substantial than words.
2. What should I wear?
Family night of Visitation is not as formal as the Funeral Ceremony. A more laid back style is often appropriate, unless there is no official ceremony, and a Tribute Reception is held. For men, anything from a suit to khaki's and a golf shirt is common. For women, dresses or dress pants are often worn. Remember to always dress appropiately for the weather.
3. How do I approach the family line?
In many cases, you may not know the entire family of the deceased. It is appropriate to go through the line expressing your sympathies, casually introducing yourself, and communicating your tie to those you may not know. It is important not to have a lengthy conversation. Keep the line moving. Give others the opportunity to offer their sympathies. If you are going to carry on a lengthy conversation with a family member, step aside and allow others to go around you before proceeding with your visit.
4. How do I approach a family member when there is no line & they are talking to someone else?
The best way to approach this situation is to form a line behind those who are already talking to that particular family member and patiently wait. The family member will see you waiting and will finish with the previous conversation. Make sure you give those who are talking plenty of room; do not crowd them. Also, do not try to interrupt or capture their attention, unless invited.
The funeral is a more formal affair than the visitation. It is more structured and ceremonial than family night. Below are a few common questions many people ask.
1. Should I plan on visiting with the family at the funeral?
In most cases, the timeframe of the event often restricts the family's ability to interact with attendees unless a time visitation precedes the formal service. When there is a time of visitation, make sure you arrive with of plenty time before the beginning of the funeral service. Be sure to keep your conversation to a minimum. Arriving to the visitation 10 to 20 minutes before the service starts will not allow you enough time to extend your condolences. It also places the undue burden of rushing the family members.
It is highly recommended that you attend the visitation and viewing the evening or day prior to the service date. If you cannot attend the visitation the day before the funeral or a time of visitation prior to the funeral service, perhaps a visit to the home at a later time would be more appropriate. Be sure to call ahead.
2. When should I arrive if I can only attend the formal service?
It is a good idea to arrive at least 20 to 25 minutes prior to service time. This gives you time to find parking as well as seating.
3. What should I wear?
Attire for a funeral is a bit more formal than the family night visitation or reception. Men often wear suits or dress pants and a tie. Women wear suits, dresses, or a blouse & dress pants. If you are attending the committal right at the cemetery following the service, be sure to wear shoes or boots appropriate for the terrain and climate.
If one chooses to attend a burial and will be following the funeral procession, it is very important you follow instructions given by the funeral home staff member.
1. How do I get into the funeral procession and where do I park?
It is important to decide ahead of arriving at the funeral location whether or not you are going to the graveside service. In most cases, a staff member will be directing vehicles to the proper parking space. It is a good idea to tell the funeral home staff what your connection or tie is to the family to ensure proper directions. Be sure to arrive 20 to 25 minutes prior to the time of service. In some cases, you will not be able to simply join into the end of funeral procession.
2. How will I be recognized as being part of the procession?
When part of a procession, turn on your lights and hazards light. A staff member will supply you with either a funeral flag or sticker as a processional marker. When driving in a funeral procession, be sure to pay attention and be careful of other traffic. Not everyone one may recognize a funeral procession. Be extremely cautious, as you may pass through red lights and stop signs.