Funeral Etiquette: How to Handle Insensitive Guests at Your Loved Ones Funeral
A funeral announcement is a way of letting your family, friends and acquaintances know of the passing of a loved one. You can make it as varied as you wish. You can be very formal, by using a printed or engraved invitation to the funeral service. Alternatively, you can make it simple, by sending an email. Funeral announcements may appear in the newspaper in the obituary section.
Unless you have written the notice ahead of time, it is always difficult to compose your thoughts and write a funeral announcement while you are grieving. This list of what to include in a funeral announcement will help you to write the funeral announcement and not forget anything.
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Funeral etiquette also applies to the family and close friends of the deceased. Dealing with insensitive, probing questions can be very difficult when emotions are already asunder. But these things will happen, so best to be at least a little prepared for them.
Etiquette At the Funeral or Viewing
One way to make yourself ready for potentially awkward moments is to provide as much information as you can in the obituary. If you are able to specify the cause of death, this might alleviate some of those incisive inquiries. If the deceased died from an illness or incident that you care not to discuss, funeral etiquette will be a lot easier for you if you try to prepare a short, polite diplomatic answer beforehand. People don't always ask out of insensitivity or curiosity, sometimes it is out of genuine concern and caring.
Funeral Etiquette at the Visitation
At the visitation you're not expected to function as a social host. It's up to the visitors to behave soberly and respectfully, attending with graciousness and seeking you out. Your responsibility is to welcome them as they arrive and thank them for attending. If they choose to share a few words about the deceased, try to oblige. More than likely they're attempting to give you an outlet for some of the grief you're carrying, or their own.
Do make sure there is a visitor guest book for them to sign. This will enable you to send thank you cards to those who attended after the funeral. The funeral director should be supervising these matters, but it doesn't hurt to remind them, or a member of their staff. Two heads are better than one!
Emotions do run high at funerals, and most of us are not blessed with perfect lives and relationships. If for any reason there is an altercation, ask the funeral director to handle it. Sometimes people drink too much or weakened emotional states allow for past grievances to surface. If that should happen try to keep your composure - the way you react will largely determine the outcome.
You'll be seeing a lot of people at this time, possibly old friends whom you haven't seen for ages. Good funeral etiquette shows that it would be best not to let any one or two people monopolize the majority of your time and attention. If an old friend or close relative has come from afar, spending a bit more time with them is understandable. Perhaps you can suggest a meeting outside of the funeral as well. Those who live closer to you and to whom you are more accessible will need to show a little understanding.
Funeral Etiquette for the Days After
Sending thank you notes after the funeral can be a momentous task. Hopefully you will have friends or family members who can assist you with this necessary affair. Those who have attended the visitation or have simply dropped by don't need a thank you card. But many will have dropped by with prepared food, or helped with shopping and chores. Several will have sent cards or given small gifts. These will be the hardest to recall and are deserving of a thank you note. A simple, signed thank you card will suffice. Should you wish to add a personal note - that is your choice.
Funeral Etiquette Toward the Clergy and Pall Bearers
The presiding clergy is deserving of a hand-written personal note. If you are sending a payment or an offering, send that separately. The personal touch is also recommended when thanking pall bearers. They have performed an honourable service, and hence are due honour in return.
Other Considerations of Funeral Etiquette
Often you will receive flowers or a gift basket from an organization the deceased was a member of, or his co-workers and place of employment. In such cases, if individuals have signed the card, a thank you card should be sent to each one. A personal handwritten note is not necessary, however if any of them were close to you also, it is your choice.