Besides declaring the death of a person, funerals are also organized with the intention that people can pay their respect and express their love to the deceased. Although genuine concern, sensitivity and common sense is all you need at a funeral, for those who do not know what to say or do at funerals, here are some basic funeral etiquette that will help you be prepared for such times.
Condolence Visit Etiquette
If a close relative or friend has lost a near and dear one, it is your duty to go to his or her place and be there. Your presence will comfort the bereaved person and will also make him or her feel cared for. The specification of when you should pay the condolence visit will depend on how close you are to the bereaved family. If your close to them, go as soon as you're informed about the death. Or else you can go after the funeral or even the week following the funeral. A condolence visit does not necessarily a time when you are expected to hang out at the bereaved family's place but also a time when you can extend your hand of assistance. Simple things like answering the door, answering phone calls, helping in funeral arrangements, etc. would be of great assistance to the bereaved family.
What to Say and What Not to Say
The best thing for one to do at a funeral is listen. The bereaved family members do not want your great advice or solution to their problems. All they want is somebody who genuinely cares for them; somebody who is ready to listen to them; somebody who can empathize with them. Go forward and just hold their hands. If they say something, listen to them and genuinely feel for them. This truly is the best you can do in these grieving times. Moreover, never ask how the death occurred and make them more miserable. Most importantly do not attend a funeral if you don't care about the person who has just passed away. Do not put on that artificial mask of sympathy and attend the funeral, just because you want to maintain your social position. It's the most disgusting thing one can do! Moreover, do not indulge in loose talk or gossip at a funeral.
Proper Funeral Flower Etiquette
Sending flowers to the funeral home, church or burial site is proper funeral etiquette. Funeral flowers can truly be great gestures of love and concern to the family. Here again, one needs to be sensitive about the person's personal beliefs and religion. In the orthodox Jewish custom, the funeral flowers should only be sent to the house of their family members. They find it offensive if you send flowers directly to the funeral home or burial site. Thus, one needs to be careful not to hurt the sentiments of the bereaved family.
Proper Funeral Dress Etiquette
The appropriate dress etiquette for funerals depend mostly on the kind of culture and religion. In the Western world, Christian funerals required people to wear black, however, today this rule does not apply. Wearing something simple and formal would do. Avoid floral or flashy patterns. In Indian Hindu funerals, the dress etiquette at funerals used to be white, however, this rule is no longer strictly followed. In Indian funerals wearing western outfits is considered impolite, thus, one needs to be sensitive to the cultural etiquette prevalent.
Phone Calls and Emails
The bereaved family is going through a horrendous time. Keeping this in mind, if your close friend has lost a dear one, then you could call and express your condolences. However, keep the conversation short. Sending condolences via email to close people is not appropriate. If you really want to send a note of condolence, then send a hand written one home. You can refer to what to write in funeral cards for some ideas. Condolence emails are all right if your colleague or business associate has lost a dear one.
These points mentioned above are some general ones. Military funeral etiquette are definitely different and have several rules and regulations to be strictly followed. However, on a general note, proper funeral etiquette does not need to be taught. If you truly care and empathize for the bereaved you will not do anything to hurt the sentiments of the bereaved family.