When you decide to attend a funeral service or a visitation as a way to show your support to a family grieving a loss, your chief priority is to convey your sympathy. While you can accomplish this goal verbally, with a sympathy card or simply through your presence, it's also important to observe proper funeral etiquette. Inadvertently acting in an inappropriate manner can make you stand out for the wrong reasons and add stress to the family already dealing with grief. Here are three important funeral etiquette rules to remember the next time you attend a funeral.
Don't Overstay Your Welcome
The length of time you remain at the funeral service itself depends on several factors, including the length of the service. Where the visitation is concerned, however, it's important to avoid staying too long. While it can be easy to be tempted to stay as long as possible to show your support, remaining on the scene for about 15 minutes is typically enough time to speak to the family and greet any other guests you know. Of course, it's always important to use your discretion; if the turnout isn't overly high, you might need to stay longer than 15 minutes to avoid giving the impression that you're dashing out early.
The Guestbook Isn't For Messages
Many funeral attendees make the mistake of adding a detailed message of sympathy while signing the guestbook. While it's difficult to fault their thoughtful intentions, it's important to remember that the guestbook is the wrong venue for sharing such thoughts. Funeral guestbooks are designed to keep track of guests' names and, in some cases, their mailing addresses. This information serves as a valuable database for the family to know not only who attended the event, but to provide the guests' addresses for when it's time to send cards of thanks. Save your written expressions of sympathy for a card for the family.
Avoid Inadvertently Hurtful Sentiments
When you feel nervous or in grief at a funeral, it can be easy to offer a well-intentioned sentiment that ends up sounding hurtful. When possible, avoid a number of sympathy-related cliches that can seem insensitive. Saying that the person who has passed away is in a better place, that the family's grief will get easier or that at least the person who passed away had a good life don't offer much in the way of meaningful sympathy to the family.Share