Funerals are difficult for many people, especially if you have never been to one. Knowing what is expected and making sure you don't offend the grieving family is paramount. The following guide can help you better navigate your first funeral.
What should you wear?
Traditionally, black and dark grey were the only suitable colors for a funeral, but in modern times there are sometimes specific requests put forth by the family or even in the deceased's final wishes. For example, more families are staging life celebrations and requesting guests not to dress in black. You can call the funeral home for guidance on the family's wishes, or you can play it safe by wearing muted colors. Business casual is usually a safe choice when it comes to formality.
Do you need to say anything?
This can be awkward for many people, as the modern world doesn't do a lot to teach how to express sympathy. If you aren't sure what to say to the family, keep it simple and heartfelt. Words like, "I'm sorry for your loss" may seem overused but they are the perfect thing to say when you aren't sure what else to say.
Is the viewing necessary?
The most difficult part for some is the viewing if it is an open casket funeral. Fortunately, you are not required by etiquette to participate in this tradition, so feel free to sit it out. If you aren't sure if there will be a viewing from the funeral announcement, then feel free to call the funeral home in advance so you can prepare yourself.
Must one stay for the entire funeral?
No, it is perfectly acceptable to stop by, share your condolences, and then leave. Just don't do this in the middle of the actual service – if you stay for the opening of the service, then stay until the end. Make sure you sign the guest book, no matter how brief your visit. It's also in good taste to have flowers delivered or to make a small donation to a cause in the name of the deceased, even if you do come to the funeral.
Are there any major things to avoid?
Most things to avoid are common sense. Turn off your cell phone, don't talk too loudly, and don't allow your child to act out. It's okay to smile or even laugh, although you don't want to be too boisterous. Sharing good memories of the deceased and laughing over them can be part of the healing process.
For more information, contact local professionals like O'Halloran & Murphy Funeral & Cremation Services.