While funeral etiquette can vary greatly due to factors such as age, culture and faith, all funerals have share one thing in common; they can be intimidating occasions for those people who are attending a funeral for their first time. Here are some universal dos and don’ts of funeral services to help you feel more comfortable on the day.
- When to arrive
Services run to a schedule and you will likely have been informed of the time that the funeral is expected to begin. If possible you should try and arrive 15-30 minutes before the service starts. However if you are speaking or acting as a pallbearer then you may want to arrive earlier to meet with the funeral director and find out when and how you will be needed. If you are unfortunately running late then you should try to enter as quietly as possible, perhaps standing at the back so as to avoid disturbing anyone.
- Dress Code
One aspect of a funeral service that can cause some apprehension among guests is dress code. It can be difficult to know what is appropriate to wear to a funeral, but you should know that most often black is still the most popular colour to choose. Wearing everyday clothes can be perceived negatively so it is important to make an effort by dressing smart. For men this usually means a black suit or at least a smart shirt, trousers and dress shoes. However, there are occasions when families do ask for attendees to wear bright colours, in which case you may have more freedom over what you wear.
If you get chance then you should try to offer words of sympathy to the family or loved ones of the deceased. Simply offering your condolences can go a long way and will be deeply appreciated by the chief mourner. However you should judge this on the day, as they may be struggling to cope and it might be better to wait until the reception to approach them.
- Where to sit
Typically, if the service is held in a crematorium or a church then the front areas should be left available for close family and friends, particularly if there are lots of people attending and space is short.
One tradition that is common at a funeral is the bringing of flowers. This is a nice way for mourners to pay their respects and condolences to the family of the deceased. However, sometimes people will ask not to have flowers and will instead ask for a donation to be made to a relevant charity, such as one which supports research in to an illness or disease that the departed may have suffered from. The best thing to do is ask the family or funeral director what the family’s preference is.
- Mobile phones and cameras
Mobile phones are a part of modern life and almost everyone has one. However, it can be embarrassing and disruptive to a funeral service for a phone to begin ringing during a service. It’s not just phone calls either; emails, texts and notifications from apps can all activate ringtones or cause your phone to vibrate, so it’s best to just switch it off during the service. You should also refrain from taking any photographs at the service, unless specifically asked by family members to take a photograph.
Although you are usually welcome to bring children to a funeral, it may be wise to think carefully about the pros and cons of doing so. If your child is unlikely to be able to stay calm and sit still during a funeral then it may be a better option to leave them with a minder and allow them to say their goodbyes in another, less fragile, atmosphere.
For help and advice on organising a funeral, please contact us on 0151 228 3900, or leave us a message through our contact us page by clicking here.