Basics of Funeral Etiquette
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Whether you’re mourning a loved one or attending the funeral of a friend or acquaintance, funerals are a somber and reflective time that require a special set of behaviors. Everyone’s funeral wishes are different, of course, but in most cases, showing respects will be less of a festive event and more of a somber remembrance.
At McDougal Funeral Homes, our funeral planning services include questions about mood and other important factors. Let’s go over a few basic considerations in terms of funeral etiquette.
As we noted, most funeral services are solemn affairs. There are exceptions here, though – some people request a more festive atmosphere for their funeral, to celebrate their life. Regardless of the mood, however, respect is a must. Losing a loved one creates a void in the lives of family and close friends, and we should act as such.
How to Act
Here are a few basic etiquette guidelines to consider:
- Arrive early: Always arrive at least 15 or 20 minutes before the service is scheduled to begin, and earlier if you’re a close family member or friend. If you talk, speak quietly while you wait for the family to arrive.
- Seating: Unless marked otherwise, the first few rows of seating are usually reserved for family and close friends – avoid these unless you’re part of this group. If the departed is presented in an open casket, respectfully say a final goodbye to them if you wish. Draw as little attention to yourself as possible, and do not disrupt the service.
- Dress: Take care to dress conservatively and respectfully. Avoid sparkly, flashy or noisy items.
- Participation: Most funerals are conducted by a clergy member or designated speaker, and there may be audience participation sections. Even if you are not religious, respect any religious elements in the ceremony.
- Dismissal order: In most funeral processions, the family will follow the casket out of the church or funeral home. Attendees are then generally dismissed using a row by row method. Don’t hold up the flow of dismissal. Follow these same instructions for vehicle processions, if you’re part of one.
If you have children, first determine whether they are old enough to know what’s happening. Children should not be brought to the funeral of an unrelated person unless you’ve told them what to expect and are comfortable they can behave. Even when this is the case, choose a seat near the back in case the act out and you need to step outside.
For more on basic funeral etiquette, or to make funeral arrangements or find out about any of our services, speak to the discerning staff at McDougal Funeral Homes.