Attending a funeral can be very confusing if you’ve never attended one before. Is there a right way to behave? What should people say and where should they sit? If you’re thinking about making funeral plans, there are things you might need to know, when it comes to funeral etiquette.
Here are some of the most common questions people ask about attending a funeral service:
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Who Should Attend a Funeral?
Generally, anyone who wants to attend would be welcome. You wouldn’t necessarily need to wait for an invitation.
Guests are likely to include family and friends, but anyone who wants to offer support to the family or another guest might choose to attend.
When there is a big turnout at a funeral, this can be very comforting for the bereaved family.
Sometimes, families choose to hold a more private funeral service and this would be invite-only. If you want to place limitations on your funeral, make sure you let a family member or close friend know.
Are Children Allowed?
Children tend to be welcome at a funeral unless the bereaved family specifies otherwise. If a child is old enough, the parents might choose to ask them whether they want to attend.
Babies and younger children may find the funeral service challenges, as they’ll have to sit quietly for a while.
Parents who have to attend because they can’t leave their children or baby at home should be given the option to sit near the exit, just in case they need to step outside.
What Should You Wear to a Funeral?
Traditionally, people dress conservatively when they attend a funeral, choosing to wear black or dark colors.
What people wear to a funeral is important because it’s a way of showing respect to the deceased and other mourners.
It is possible to specify a specific dress code when making your plans. For example, you might prefer people dressed in traditional colours, or brighten things up by asking that people dress more cheerfully. You might want to choose a particular colour or something completely off-the-wall such as a fancy dress.
What Happens When People Enter?
If a funeral is taking place in a church, it’s usual for guests to be seated inside before the coffin arrives. At a crematorium, guests generally follow the coffin and the chief mourners into the chapel.
Where Should People Sit?
The first few rows of seats at a funeral service tend to be reserved for immediate family. All the other seats are free for everyone. There is no need to pick a specific side like you might for a wedding.
When to Leave the Funeral
Chief mourners leave the funeral first, followed by other guests, at the end of the funeral service. The guests usually leave row by row, starting at the front and then working backward.
There may be an additional committal service following the funeral, but this depends on whether it’s a burial or cremation. In addition, the commitment might be just for immediate family and friends.
Can You Take Photos?
Funerals are often occasions when people reconnect with old friends and family. It’s very tempting to take photographs as a way of documenting the event, but it’s best not to.
That being said, if you don’t mind people taking photos at your funeral, make sure you include this wish in your funeral plan and let loved ones know.
Can You Post About a Funeral on Social Media?
This is very much a personal choice of the family. It’s best to wait for them to announce the death of a loved one on social media first. The most respectful thing to do is comment on a post that a family member has made and offer condolences.
How to Word Condolences
When someone has experienced the loss of a loved one, it can be very challenging to know what to say. People don’t want to say the wrong thing, but often they do.
A good way for people to offer support to the bereaved is by sharing memories and stories of the deceased. Is there anyone you’d like to do this when you’re gone?
Should I Send Flowers or Make a Donation?
Flowers are a very thoughtful gesture, but an increasing number of people are asking that people make donations instead. It also depends on the wishes of the bereaved family, as well as their cultural or religious practices.
It is far more common for bereaved families to ask that a charity donation is made instead of flowers. Quite often, the charity will be one that had significant meaning for the deceased. Is there a charity you’d like people to make donations to when you pass away?
Now you know a little bit more about what is expected before, during, and after a funeral, you can organize your funeral accordingly.