Proper Funeral Etiquette
When a friend or loved one dies, it's natural to want to help, offer comfort and say the right thing. What can you do to provide others solace?
SUGGESTIONS FOR FAMILY
What should I say when friends come to visit?
Thank them. Usually they don't know exactly what to say. Don't be afraid to talk with them about your loved one who has passed away. Put them at ease and they will be able to strengthen you even more.
Do we need pallbearers?
Usually 4 to 6 pallbearers are preferred. Friends, relatives, church members or business associates can be selected by the family. Those who are unable to carry a casket can serve as honorary pallbearers. They do not actively assist in carrying the casket. Instead, they usually walk beside or in front of the casket.
Who should give the eulogy, if we decide on one? A eulogy may be given by a family member, friend, clergy or business associate of the deceased. The eulogy should be no longer than 5 minutes and should offer commendation and reflection on the life of the person who has died. Ask Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker for tips on eulogy.
What's the best way to acknowledge all that's been done for the family?
The family should acknowledge flowers, memorials, donations, food, donated services and the pallbearers through short personal notes or printed acknowledgement cards. The note can be short, such as: "The casserole you sent was enjoyed by our family. Your kindness is deeply appreciated."
In some communities, a public thank you is sometimes inserted in the newspaper. We can assist you with this.
SUGGESTIONS FOR FRIENDS
Your presence at the visitation demonstrates that although someone has died, friendship continues. This is the time and place to offer an expression of sympathy. Be sure to sign the register book with your full name, and if you are a business associate, list that affiliation in case the family is not familiar with the relationship you share with the deceased. Use your own judgment on how long to stay at the funeral home. If you feel you're needed, go ahead and offer to stay.
Keep your expressions of sympathy simple and heartfelt.
Clearly identify yourself to the family. Extend condolences simply and openly. Embrace, hold hands or say something like:
- "I'm sorry for your loss."
- "My sympathies to you."
- "He was a wonderful person."
If you are close to the family, you may want to ask if there is anything you can do to help. You should not ask for details from the family about the illness or death.
Call, send flowers, make a memorial donation or send a personal note.
Doing so will give you an opportunity to show you care and express sympathy to the family of the deceased. Sending a card or email message expressing your condolences is also appropriate. Be a good listener, in case the family wants to talk about the deceased or their recent loss.
Don't feel you have to cheer up anyone.
Those who are grieving need to talk about what's happened and how they feel. Don't try to fix things or cheer them up. You can ease their burden best by just listening. There's no need to say "be strong" or "be brave." Expressing your emotions–like crying or being angry–is healthy and lets your friend know you aren't uncomfortable with grief.
Grief doesn't end quickly. Stay in touch and call on special days like holidays or birthdays to say, "I'm thinking of you." Stop by with a casserole or take your friend out for ice cream and a drive.