FUNERAL ETIQUETTE

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When someone you know passes away, your first instinct is to offer help and support to those affected. It can be hard to know what to say or do. 

It's okay to feel this way.

It's natural to feel awkward or uncomfortable. You may have questions or question yourself: what do I wear? Should I bring my children? What should I say to my friends or to the family of the deceased? When should I visit? 

We hope to provide you with some guidance, below, as you consider how you can support those who are grieving — and be kind to yourself in the process.

 
What Should I Say?

It can be difficult to know what to say to the family of the deceased to express your sympathy. To begin, offer your condolences to the family. If you are comfortable, share a memory of the deceased. In this difficult time, sharing the joy of the deceased’s life can help comfort the bereaved. For example, “I was so sorry to hear of Mary’s passing.  She was always such a wonderful friend to me."

What Should I Avoid Saying?

It can be difficult to know what to say to the family of the deceased to express your sympathy. To begin, offer your condolences to the family. If you are comfortable, share a memory of the deceased. In this difficult time, sharing the joy of the deceased’s life can help comfort the bereaved. For example, “I was so sorry to hear of Mary’s passing.  She was always such a wonderful friend to me."

What Should I Wear?

When attending a memorial service or funeral, dress in dark and subdued colors, such as dark blues, grays, browns, and black. Be sure to dress simply and conservatively. Men are encouraged to wear a jacket and tie paired with dress shoes, while women should choose either a dress or a suit. Any jewelry should be subtle and traditional.

Can I Use My Mobile Phone?

Please turn off or silence your mobile phone completely during the service. Checking your phone is noticeable and is a distraction to those who are trying to pay their respects. If you must return a message or receive a call, exit the service quietly.

When Should I Arrive?

When attending a funeral or a service, do your best to be on time. Try to enter the facility as quietly as possible. If there are no ushers present, remember that the first few rows of seats are usually for the immediate family and close friends. Acquaintances should appropriately seat themselves in the middle or towards the rear.

Should I Bring My Children?

Allowing a child to attend a memorial or funeral service can help them say goodbye to a friend or loved one. It is important to not force a child to go, but instead, encourage them to share in this tribute with the rest of the family. Before attending, help prepare them by explaining what they might see at the service.

Should I Send Flowers, Food, or Gifts?

Different faiths may welcome flowers or food, such as fruit baskets. It's perfectly OK to ask what the family would prefer. Gifts can be well-intended, but can sometimes add stress. In general, flowers are a wonderful way to express your sympathy and can bring comfort in a difficult time. Flowers are a meaningful gift that can be enjoyed during and after the funeral service. Floral arrangements and plants can be sent to the funeral home to be present at services.