Time for a Top Ten list from your local funeral professionals! Now I am by no means a “Miss Manners” of funeral etiquette, but some things should be non-negotiable when attending a funeral service:

  1. One.  Silence your phone. Seriously that means you.

  2. Two.  Silence your insatiable curiosity. If the cause of death is common knowledge, then you will already know about it. Please don’t badger the family for “gory details” at the funeral. Likewise, don’t expect the funeral home staff to let you in on the family dirt. We will not be the source for #NOTTHEBABYDADDY on your Twitter feed.

  3. Three.  If you call the funeral home and explain that you were unable to attend the visitation, the service and the committal, but would still like to know where the luncheon is being held? “I’m sorry sir; I don’t know where the family has made those accommodations but thank you for your call.”

  4. Four.  Don’t bring a date. By all means, if your longtime partner knew and loved your Aunt Matilda they should be included, but if you met someone yesterday at Subway and they seem real nice, a family funeral is not a great second date.

  5. Five.  Don’t NOT have a funeral. This sounds like funeral home marketing gobbledygook but it’s not. I’ve worked with a number of families who have abided by the “He never wanted a funeral” reasoning. It is very difficult for these families to move to the next level of their grief without the closure of a memorial service of some sort. I would never suggest that someone go expressly against the wishes of their loved one, but a brief moment of remembrance and sharing privately with your pastor or even at a family meal can go a long way toward starting the healing process.

  6. Six.  Did I mention silence your phone? Think about other sounds your phone makes also. If you plan to take a photo of Grandma’s headstone during the committal service, maybe disable the cute voice on your cell phone that squeaks “Say CHEESE!” as a photo is snapped.

  7. Seven.  Don’t overdress. I know it is black, but the dress you wore to your BFF’s bachelorette party, the one that all your friends agreed that “Oh My Gawd!” made you look “So Freakin’ Hawt!!!” may not be the right dress for the Catholic Mass part of Uncle Dick’s funeral. Bring a sweater. And some pants.

  8. Eight.  Don’t underdress. Now I don’t think I’m going very far out onto the limb when I say that most families don’t give a hoot about what you wear when. They are just touched that you took the time to come. That being said, if you are attending the funeral for a person who is part of a large inter-racial and diverse family, it might be a good day NOT to wear the T-shirt that says “I Had a Swig at Nig’s!”

  9. Nine.  Don’t think you will come up with the perfect thing to say. One of the epiphanies I had when I first started officiating at funeral and memorial services in 2001, was that there was NOTHING I could say that would make this family not be sad. I realized all I could do was to be present and non-anxious with people who were grieving. Sometimes the best that you can do for someone who has endured a loss, is to look them in the eye and let them see that you care.

  10. Ten.  TURN OFF YOUR PHONE! Recently, we had a committal service at the Southeastern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Union Grove. While I was speaking, a lovely older woman’s phone rang. I continued speaking while all in attendance gave her the “death stares of contempt” while she loudly explained to her friend that she couldn’t talk because she was at a funeral. A few minutes later, while the Marines were folding the flag in silent respect for their fallen brother, her cell phone rang again, and again she chattered loudly. There was nothing that could be done to rescue this moment for the family that day, but I make a vow personally that if your cell phone rings at a funeral, I will kick your butt from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli. Semper Fi.

Today’s guest post is written by Patti Fitchett.  This from Patti: I am an apprentice funeral director who started performing funeral ceremonies in 2001 when I was hired to sell pre-need burial insurance. That was a bust,( no sales chops!) but the funeral business grew on me. My first degree is in Theatre Arts and I have two adult sons.

Enter Your Mail Address