Attending a funeral is not something that most people want to do. However, for the sake of the bereaved who can be a loved one or a friend, it is important that you go to the funeral and express your sympathy and support. At the same time, you also have to make sure that you practice the proper funeral etiquette. That involves knowing what to bring, what to do during the funeral, how to behave, and of course, what you will say to the bereaved.
The following are some tips on what you should and should not do when you attend a funeral:
1. Arrive early
It would be best if you arrive at the funeral home or the church at least around 15 to 20 minutes before the service is supposed to start. Be sure that you read the instructions carefully as to the time of the service so you will not be late. If you are not familiar with the place of the church or funeral home, it would be best to leave the house early so you will have time to ask for directions. If you do arrive late, enter the church or funeral home silently and make sure that you draw as little attention to yourself as possible.
2. Respect the solemnity of the occasion
Attending a funeral requires you to be conservative. This should be expressed in a couple of ways—including your attire and behavior. In all aspects, you should be subdued. For instance, your choice of colors for your attire should be black, dark or neutral. Similarly, you should act quietly and be respectful. Do not hang around chatting with friends, be sure to listen to what is required of you and sit down when asked.
3. Participate in the ceremony
As much as possible, participate in the activities or ceremony. If there are songs that need to be sung and you know them, sing. If you are requested to speak, do so. Just keep it short, simple and solemn.
4. Leave promptly
This is to prevent yourself from holding up the procession. Once the service or ceremony ends, leave the church or funeral home quietly according to your seat order. Then go directly to your car once you have expressed your condolences and support to the bereved.
1. Never tell the loved ones and the bereaved that you know how they feel
You have no idea what they are going through at the moment. At the same time, everyone has different ways of dealing with a loss. So telling them that you feel exactly what they feel can be an insult. Instead, it would be best to say simple things like you are sorry or that you are sending your sympathy to the family. Messages of support are also good choices. Personalize the message but keep it short and simple.
2. Do not do anything that you are not comfortable with when attending a funeral
This can include activities in the ceremony that are for particular religions only. So if that is not practiced in your religion, it is best not to do them. Or if you do not know the song, just remain silent.
3. Do not bring guests to the funeral
It is not proper etiquette to invite people to a funeral, unless you are certain it is a public event. Many funeral services, burials and wakes are for close family and friends. By bringing a date or friend to the funeral that does not know the family of the deceased can be seen as being disrespectful.
If you follow the above guide when attending a funeral you should have no problems fitting in. If you have never been to a funeral before, the most important things to remember are to dress accordingly and act respectful to the grieving family.
Updated: May 14, 2012