Learning the ropes of how to behave appropriately at a funeral service can be tricky and possibly even awkward. As you navigate this process, remember that the family of the deceased person comes first. This is their time to show how important their loved one is to them and to express their love and appreciation for the life this person lived.
As it’s such a pivotal and intimate occasion, you might feel the pressure to get it right. Here are some tips to help you behave appropriately at the service.
DO: Be punctual
It’s best to arrive about 15 minutes before the service is scheduled to begin. Arriving late could cause a major distraction and disrupt the service. As you enter the building, make sure to silence or turn off your cellphone.
DON’T: Sit in the wrong spot
The first few rows at the service are typically reserved for immediate family members. Please make sure to respect their wishes and take a seat toward the middle or back.
DO: Express condolences
When you see family members, share why this person mattered to you. If appropriate, maybe tell a pleasant memory about the time you shared with them. Depending on your relationship with the person, you may offer a hug or a handshake.
DON’T: Strive for perfection
Death is a difficult concept for everyone to grasp. Sometimes there are not any words to adequately explain the depth of your sorrow to the family. Focus on sharing your sympathy for their situation and how much you care about their loved one.
DO: Listen to staff members
Sometimes a funeral is followed by a procession to the burial. If you are invited to be a part of the burial ceremony, yield to staff members’ prompts to direct you in an orderly manner. You may need to add a flag to your vehicle.
DON’T: Press for details
Death is a very traumatizing experience for everyone involved. Make sure to show respect for the family and close friends of the deceased by not asking detailed questions about how the death occurred. The family has a right to privacy.
The funeral service is just the beginning of the healing process for the family, and your attendance is important, but there are other ways to show your support and love as well. At Sunset View, El Cerrito, Berkeley, and Richmond families often ask what to send to a grieving family after a loss. While everyone’s circumstances are different, here are some recommendations to consider.
Flowers or plants
One of the most well-known and traditional ways to express your sympathy for a grieving family is to send a floral arrangement. Click here for more information about how to have flowers delivered to the funeral home or to the family’s home.
If the deceased has an organization that was dear to their heart, their family may ask you to contribute financial support in lieu of flowers. If we are serving the family, contact us for more information about the family’s wishes. If you would like to send flowers in addition to a donation, that is also acceptable.
Photographs or mementos
The best way to celebrate the life of someone who has died is to share the amazing memories you have of this person. Family members appreciate receiving photographs or mementos that relate to a fun anecdote. You never know – you may surprise them with a lovely story they’ve never heard before.
Cards and letters
Although text messages are an easy way to communicate, there is nothing more meaningful than a handwritten card or letter. Your correspondence is something the family member can keep and reread later when they’re having a tough day.
Gift cards or meal delivery
Technology is incredible because it can help us assist others in ways that we never had before. There are websites and apps that exist solely to help arrange meal deliveries for families who are grieving. You can arrange to have food delivered, buy a gift card to their favorite restaurant, or even do it the old-fashioned way by dropping off a homemade casserole at their home.