Funeral eti­quette

South Florida Times - - OBITUARIES - Cour­tesy of emi­ly­post.com and lis­ten­ing to sto­ries of times spent with the de­ceased. What to Do

Also known as so­cial graces, the rules of eti­quette ease us through chal­leng­ing so­cial sit­u­a­tions. Most of us know how to be­have in com­mon cir­cum­stances but un­less you've been to a lot of fu­ner­als, you may not know the rules of proper be­hav­ior in this of­ten-un­com­fort­able so­cial sit­u­a­tion.

The Ba­sics of Funeral Eti­quette

Emily Post once said, "Man­ners are a sen­si­tive aware­ness of the f eel­ings of oth­ers." Much of what we know to­day about eti­quette comes from this woman, who pub­lished her first book of eti­quette in 1922. When you use those words as your guide, the rules of funeral eti­quette be­come eas­ier to un­der­stand.

What to Wear

Tra­di­tion has al­ways re­quired a cer­tain level of for­mal­ity in dress­ing for a funeral. How­ever, to­day's end-of-life ser­vices are so var­ied – rang­ing from the tra­di­tional funeral to the of­ten more re­laxed cel­e­bra­tion-of-lif e – that it's chal­leng­ing to know ex­actly what's ex­pected of you.

The ad­vi­sors on the Emily Post web­site tell read­ers that "at­tire isn't lim­ited to just black or dark gray. Re­mem­ber, though, that it is a se­ri­ous oc­ca­sion and your at­tire should re­flect that, es­pe­cially if you are par­tic­i­pat­ing in the ser­vice. At the very least it should be clean, neat, and pressed as for any other im­por­tant oc­ca­sion."

What to Say

No one ex­pects you to say more than a few words and be­reaved fam­ily mem­bers are of­ten un­able to give you their full at­ten­tion any­way. So, keep it short and make it sin­cere.

"I'm so very sorry for your loss" may work very well. If you have time to add to those seven words, you might want to share a per­sonal story about a time you shared with the de­ceased. But, watch closely for signs that your au­di­ence needs to move on to re­ceive con­do­lences from other funeral guests.

When speak­ing to other funeral guests, speak qui­etly. This is not a time to dis­cuss busi­ness or share sto­ries about your re­cent va­ca­tion. In­stead, fo­cus on shar­ing

If you're un­sure about what ac­tions to take when be­ing led by a pas­tor or cel­e­brant, sim­ply fol­low along. If you're not com­fort­able, don't draw at­ten­tion to your un­will­ing­ness to par­tic­i­pate. Be dis­crete and re­spect­ful of oth­ers.

Al­ways leave your cell phone in the car or at the very least, turn it to vi­brate mode or turn it off.

How to Han­dle the Vis­i­ta­tion

A vis­i­ta­tion, or view­ing, is a time prior to the funeral where guests are in­vited to view the cas­keted body of the de­ceased. While it is cus­tom­ary to show your re­spects to the de­ceased by step­ping up to the cas­ket, you may not feel com­fort­able do­ing so. That's per­fectly al­right; no one wants you to be un­nerved by the ex­pe­ri­ence, so fo­cus your at­ten­tion in­stead on pro­vid­ing com­fort to the be­reaved fam­ily.

Af­ter the Funeral

If the de­ceased is to be buried fol­low­ing the ser­vice, the funeral of­fi­ciant will an­nounce the lo­ca­tion of the in­ter­ment. If the ceme­tery is not lo­cated on the grounds of the funeral home, there will be a pro­ces­sional of cars formed to es­cort the hearse to the ceme­tery.

Un­less they have cho­sen to have a pri­vate burial, those in at­ten­dance are wel­come to join in the pro­ces­sion how­ever, don't feel ob­li­gated to do so.You may sim­ply leave the funeral at that time.

The Funeral Re­cep­tion

Many fam­i­lies to­day hold a post-funeral gath­er­ing where food and re­fresh­ments are served. While this is a time to share mem­o­ries, laugh­ter and even tears, your be­hav­ior at a funeral re­cep­tion needs to re­main re­spect­ful.

Fol­low-up with Kindness

If you've not al­ready done so, this is a good time to send the fam­ily a sym­pa­thy note or card. About a week af­ter the funeral, pick up the phone to check in with them to see if there's any­thing they need.

"Good man­ners," wrote Emily Post, "re­flect some­thing from in­side – an in­nate sense of con­sid­er­a­tion for oth­ers and re­spect for self."

We think that just about sums it up; no mat­ter the sit­u­a­tion – wed­ding, bap­tism, din­ner party or cock­tails with friends – her ob­ser­va­tions about good man­ners (when fol­lowed) will serve us all well.

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