Visitation and Funeral Etiquette
Funerals are difficult to attend. Things like where to sit, what to wear and which portions to attend can be hard to navigate, especially when grieving. Read on to learn the basics of visitation and funeral etiquette.
1. Attending the funeral – Today, most funerals are not invite-only, so it can be difficult to decide whether or not it is appropriate for you to attend. If you personally knew the deceased, your attendance can be a way to honor and remember them, as well as bring closure. If you did not know the deceased but are close with members of the family, attending the visitation or funeral service can be a way to show your support for the people you know. If you think your presence at the service or visitation would make anyone uncomfortable, it’s probably best if you do not attend.
2. What to wear – When most people think of funeral attire, they think all-black is the only way to go; however, this is rapidly changing. More and more services are moving away from simply black attire. Several funeral services are even requesting that attendees wear the deceased’s favorite color to honor them. Regardless of what color you wear, it’s still important to dress somewhat conservatively, as this is a serious event and usually has a religious ceremony tied to it.
3. Where to sit – Many people are concerned about where to sit when attending a funeral service. Some worry that sitting too close to the family may be awkward, while sitting far away from them seems too distant. It’s important to remember that the most important thing is that fact that you are attending, and where you sit is not as important. As long as you remember to save the first few rows for immediate family, most attendees can find seats throughout the room. If the venue is large and there are several open seats, sitting closer to the front of the room will help to make it feel more intimate. If the room is small and seating has run out, you should feel comfortable standing in the back of the room.
4. What to say to family – Finding the right words to say to a family who has recently lost a loved one can be extremely difficult. You may feel that you don’t want to crowd them or be overbearing, but it’s important to remember that they need attention, love and a shoulder to cry on during this sad time. Often times, your presence alone is enough, but it usually doesn’t hurt to offer your condolences or a hug in their time of need.
Ultimately, each visitation and funeral service is very different, so it will depend heavily on what the family has planned and their expectations of attendees. The most important funeral etiquette is that you are respectful to their wishes and offer your love and support while they are grieving.