A funeral wake is an important occasion to the family and if you have been invited to attend it is important to use proper funeral wake etiquette. Attending a funeral wake is the last thing one can do for the departed. It gives you an opportunity to say your final goodbyes and celebrate the person’s life with family and friends.
It is important to wear proper attire that is fit for the occasion. While there are events when colorful clothing is allowed, it is more appropriate to wear the more traditional colors of plain black, white, or darker colors. Conservative dresses and black suits are typically called for during these occasions. It is a way of showing respects to both the deceased and the family. The family may notify guests of the funeral wake etiquette; however, even if casual dress is acceptable, it is recommended to wear conservative clothes and colors.
When you arrive at the wake look to see if there is a registry book. After signing the guestbook it is customary to approach the casket and have a last view of the departed one. Usually the family is seated near the casket, and it is a good opportunity to express sympathy to them in words that declare condolences. Express to them the good, positive things that you remember concerning the deceased. Offer them a word of comfort, one that would support them as they struggle with the loss of a dearly loved one. As you honor and recognize the deceased, remember that you and the bereaved family have shared the blessing of having known the departed. It is proper funeral wake etiquette to express this in words that would bring comfort and peace to the bereaved without saying too much. There will be a lot of people that want to speak to the family and you can express your sympathy in more depth at a later date.
The funeral wake may also include other activities, which will vary based on the family’s religion and beliefs. Often food is served at the wake and the family may request that guests bring a dish. However, typically the closest family members will organize the food. Alcohol may also be served at some wakes and the wake may last late into the night. Wakes are often used to celebrate the life of the deceased and some families may share funny stories and sing songs. If alcohol is served it is important to remember proper funeral wake etiquette and remain respectful to the family at all times.
A funeral service is often held the day after the wake. The funeral service will typically take place at a funeral home. When you arrive at the funeral sit behind the front rows and leave room for the bereaved family. During the ceremony, listen and remember the life that has gone by, which is being commemorated and remembered. There are families who prefer to start the ceremonies with readings, poems, or songs. All of these should help people reflect on how to remember the departed one.
The most important piece of funeral wake etiquette to remember is to always show respect to the family. Pay your respects to the deceased and his or her family at the wake. Express your condolences and show them how much you care.
Updated: May 15, 2013