Although good judgment and common sense work great as guides when one is attending a funeral , there are still some points that should be given attention to in order to avoid doing something inappropriate in a ceremony.
Friends commonly go to the grieving family’s home to visit and offer support. It as an act of condolence that is not unusual. They could even offer help with simple things as family members go off to make arrangements for the ceremony. Visits are not limited to once over the duration of the viewing. Friends and family are welcome to help out and ease the burden on the immediate family.
Aside from showing sympathy, it is also appropriate for the visitors to share their memories of deceased with the family. More often than not, family members just want to listen. And sometimes, they want others to listen to their own expressions of feelings or stories about the deceased. It is a healthy way of reminiscing.
The dress code on this sad occasion is somehow relaxed. One is no longer required to wear a black dress to a funeral. Conservative and dark colored clothing are appropriate. Although, there are some who would prefer to wear clothes in the favorite color of the departed.
When attending funerals, guests often bring flowers and cards with spiritual messages. There is usually a guest book signed by the visitors to help the family members remember those who shared in their grief. There are some families who request guests to make donations instead to the chosen charities of the departed. Guests usually receive a personal note as a token of gratitude for their donation.
Some Catholics bring mass cards to signify that masses are offered for the soul of the dearly departed. There are also those who offer cards with messages of sympathy for the family. Those who are unable to attend the event also send such cards to the family even after the event.
It is customary for guests in funerals to pay respect to the deceased by viewing the body in the casket. Those who are not comfortable with this may simply say a prayer in front of the portrait of the deceased which is usually placed by the casket.
After the interment or cremation ceremony, the family of the deceased usually receives some of the visitors into their home. This is a chance for the family to thank those who came to offer their sympathies. Food and refreshments are often serve and shared by the guests.
The family is then required to acknowledge the gifts and messages sent by those who share their pain. Thoughtful acts such as personal services and food donated should be acknowledged. The pallbearer’s services should also be recognized by the family. The family could give out acknowledgment cards to those people.
The funeral director might have some printed acknowledgment cards available for the family. A short personal message showing appreciation and gratitude could be added to those cards when the receiver is a close friend of the family.
In some places, families could print out a public message of gratitude in the local newspaper. It has become a practice in some small communities. The funeral director would be able to help the family with this type of message.
Proper decorum in funerals should be observed. Some families would rather celebrate the life of the deceased than mourn and cry. Observe the atmosphere and behave accordingly. It is not proper to bring up bad reputation or past “sins” of the deceased during his funeral. Guests are expected to give the deceased a decent “send off” in his funeral no matter what his past may be.