Funerals are an extremely difficult time for the family of the deceased, however it can also be a stressful time for friends and acquaintances attending the services. You want to pay your respects, but you don’t want to be in any way offensive. You want to express sympathy, but don’t want to be a bother. You may decide that having these thoughts cross your mind is silly, but in fact it is probably something that many people consider. To take some of the pressure off, we have come with a list of Dos and Do Nots to which you can refer.
DO Offer Your Regards
You don’t need to have a perfectly eloquent speech prepared, simply express your sorrow, perhaps share a memory that you have of the deceased and offer your support, if necessary. Authenticity is key here; there is no need to pretend or think of the “perfect thing to say.”
DO Dress Appropriately
While you don’t necessarily need to wear black, consider dressing conservatively and respectfully. Darker colors, longer sleeves and higher necklines are typically fitting.
DO Familiarize Yourself with the Program
In many cases, families will have a visitation or wake, the actual funeral or memorial service and the burial. You should know which parts you are invited to and alternately, which might be for select invitees only. Being timely is also extremely important; this is a delicate time for many of the people in attendance, so show your respect by being punctual.
The DO NOTs
DO NOT Use Your Smart Phone
This is increasingly a more relevant admonition to make. Being respectful includes being present and sharing this time with all of the people attending the service. Not only is using your phone rude, it can result in unnecessary noise that can be embarrassing to you and bothersome to everyone around you.
DO NOT Stay Silent
While this is not really an enforceable rule, if you knew the deceased and felt a closeness to him or her, consider sharing your feelings with their family and friends. Adding this small piece of reminiscence and love to the mosaic of someone’s life will be gratifying, both to you and their family.
DO NOT Sit in the Front Pew (Unless You are Family)
The front two pews are usually reserved for the immediate family, so if you are not part of this group, try to find a different seat. While no one will probably kick you out of your seat if you don’t adhere to this rule, you may be taking a seat away from an elderly person or someone that is planning to speak during the service.
In many cases, using basic common sense will guide you to the right behavior at a funeral. Consider the feelings and the extreme emotional stress of the grieving parties and do your best to take some of that stress away instead of adding to it.