Attending a funeral for the first time can be a little confusing. Funeral etiquette is not a common topic of conversation, so you may be unsure of the proper way to act or what exactly to expect. Here are four tips for how to handle attending a funeral for the first time:
Unlike in the movies, it's not actually expected or necessary to wear all black to a funeral. You should, however, aim to dress conservatively and in a way that doesn't distract anyone from the ceremony. Subdued colors and business-appropriate clothing are the way to go for most funerals.
Arrive Early and Exit When Directed
Aim to arrive twenty or so minutes early, just in case you get lost or have trouble finding parking. This will help you avoid walking into the funeral after it's already started. The first few rows are typically reserved for close family and friends, so unless you've been told you have an assigned seat you should sit in the middle or towards the back.
After the ceremony, the casket is typically taken out and then the rows of mourners exit one at a time, starting with the front. Just pay attention to any instructions from the funeral director and otherwise follow what everyone else does.
Offer Condolences if Possible
If you have a chance to do so, it's nice to greet the immediate family of the deceased and offer your condolences. A handshake or warm hug and a simple "I'm so sorry for your loss" is all that's needed. If they are being bombarded with people, you may wish to save your condolences for a phone call or visit a few days after the funeral when things calm down a bit.
Consider Sending a Gift
If you are at all close to the surviving family members of the deceased, you may want to bring or send them a gift to show that you're thinking of them during this time. It's traditional to send flowers, but they will most likely be receiving a large number of them so you may wish to think outside the box.
A card with a thoughtful note and a cash donation toward the funeral expenses would probably be very appreciated. The close family of the deceased is probably too immersed in grief to want to make dinners for themselves, so you could bring them home-made lasagna or send a card with a gift card to a casual dining establishment.
Attending a funeral is always a sad occasion, but by following these tips you will be able to rest easier knowing you are behaving in a polite and sensitive manner.
For more information, contact funeral homes in your area, such as Paul O'Connor Funeral Home Ltd.