The following is a continuation of Funeral Etiquette 101.
Don’t force a discussion. In most cases, your PRESENCE is enough to take away part of the grief loved ones left behind are feeling. As such, don’t feel that there’s a need for you to ‘cheer them up’ or to force them to talk or open up about their grief. A funeral is not a time for this. However, should any family member want to discuss then just be a good listener. Mention a thoughtful or even funny anecdote or two about the departed but let the family member lead the discussion.
Avoid conflicts. Some people feel the need to ‘clear the air’ if ever there was an issue between them and the deceased. This is of course a bad idea to do at the funeral.
Think about it. What will it accomplish? Clear your name? Settle the score? You can do that any other time. A funeral is a time for the immediate family to mourn THEIR loved one. They want to remember the deceased in a good way so don’t spoil it for them.
The funeral service. It’s important to be attentive during the funeral service. Turn off your mobile phone, pager, and others and listen intently to those offering final messages.
Where you sit depends on how close you are to the family. Close friends sit nearer the front; acquaintances more to the back.
If you went to the service with children and they are getting a bit bored, cranky and noisy, then do step out for a while.
If you’ve been asked to speak during the service, stay away from bringing up embarrassing anecdotes. These are great for birthdays and other occasions but not at a funeral. Keep your message short but meaningful.
The funeral procession. If you’re not familiar with funeral procession procedures, ask friends and stay together or ask the funeral attendant.
If you’re driving instead of walking to the final resting place, then drive at a slow and respectful distance.
The funeral reception. It’s common to gather around for a few drinks and snacks after the funeral. This will usually be held at the bereaved family’s home or at small local restaurant. However, it’s not expected that you stay long.
Remember, family members are grieving and in most cases would prefer to be left alone as soon as possible. In short, pay your respects but don’t overstay.
If, on the other hand, you actually cannot go to the funeral reception then just give a quick goodbye to any family member call, visit or send a condolence note a week or so later.
Offering further help… One way to help the family during and/or after a funeral is to offer practical support. For instance, you can offer bringing over a meal every Saturday for a month or so or even offering to babysit children for a while. It’s all up to what the bereaved family needs, how close you are to them, and what is really an open-hearted offer on your end.