Attending a Funeral
What to do
When you're attending traditional funerals you might be aware of some of the common customs, and therefore can be ready for the process. When you're attending a non-traditional or personalized funerals, there's a greater chance that you won't be familiar with what will happen. However, regardless of the type of funeral you're attending, there are some common rules of etiquette for attending a funeral:
- Arrive early. Get to the church or funeral home at least 15 to 20 minutes prior to when you're expecting the service to start. If you happen to arrive late, you should quietly enter the service and take a place in the back row. Make sure to draw as little attention to yourself as possible.
- Be conservative. Your dress and your behavior should address the solemnity of the event. When you arrive take your place quickly and quietly. The first few rows are reserved for family members and close friends, but you shouldn't sit too far back unless there's no room. The rows directly behind the family should be filled in order to offer support to the bereaved.
- Participate in the ceremony. While the funeral will be headed by a clergy or main speaker, there may be times when participation is requested. If songs are being sung, join in. If prayers are being said, rise with the procession. If you're not religious you don't have to pray, but you should stand to recognize the tradition. If there's an invitation to speak and you feel you have something relevant to say, then offer to speak. The bereaved will be comforted by the fact that so many people also cared for the decedent.
- Take your cues from the ceremony. But if there aren't any indicators that you should participate, you should remain solemn and quiet.
- Leave promptly. Most often the family members will follow the casket out of the church or funeral home. To make sure you don't hold up the procession, you should leave promptly, following the seating order. If there's a graveside ceremony to attend, go directly to your car and wait for the procession to leave. Make sure to turn your headlights on to show other drivers that you're part of the funeral procession.