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Funeral Etiquette a guide

Here we try to answer some of the most frequent questions we have from people about what they have to do? And what happens at a funeral? This is only a general guide and it should be taken into consideration that customs and traditions may differ. As your local funeral director we will be able to assist you in the event that you have any other questions or you would like to have more information.

Black, should I wear it?

It is generally very uncommon these days for people attending a funeral to be clothed completely in black, at the same time though, some people may think that bright clothing is inappropriate. In most instances people will choose to wear formal clothing for example; a suit, and generally men will wear a black tie. It is possible that the family arranging the funeral may provide some specific instructions relating to what they would prefer people to wear at the funeral, for example they may want theme the funeral with a favourite colour of the deceased. You should consider first though that the most essential thing is that you should be comfortable and that you dress appropriately for the weather conditions. Old Churches and the cemetery can be quite chilly during the winter months.

Should I wear a hat and cover my head?

In some religious beliefs you will be expected to cover your head, as an example, in either Greek Orthodox or Jewish ceremonies. You should ask the funeral director to provide you with the advice you need. It is generally accepted that, if you prefer to wear a hat, it is fine.

Should I visit the deceased in the chapel of rest?

This is normally something that is reserved for close family and friends. If this is something you would like to do, you should refer your request to the family who are arranging the funeral.

Who travels with the funeral procession?

The family or person who is arranging the funeral will decide who will be in the car or limousines that will be following the hearse. Under normal circumstances this will be family and occasionally close friends. In general, most of the people attending the funeral will use their own transport and may choose to meet the procession where the service is being held.
Does the funeral procession always depart from the home of the deceased?
In tradition this is the case, but the funeral procession can also depart from the home of a close relative. It is possible that the family decide to depart from the address to which people will return to following the funeral. Mourners may also choose to congregate at the place of service. If you are unsure, you should check with the family of the deceased or the funeral director.

Is it OK for children to go to a funeral?

This is perfectly acceptable, but it should be remembered that toddlers and babies could be disruptive, especially in the event that it is a long service. For older children, it is fine, if they wish to go. It is good to prepare children prior to the service, so that they are aware of what to expect.

Should people enter the church or crematorium before or after the coffin?

This can depend considerably on your local traditions and is the personal choice of the family. As an example, in a church, the mourners will typically arrive and take their place prior to the start of the service and will stand as the coffin enters and the coffin is followed by the close family of the deceased. In the instance where the funeral is at a crematorium it is considered to be more common to enter the crematorium after the chief mourners (the family and close friends of the deceased), who directly follow the coffin. The front seats are for the immediate family and should be left free. As with everything at the funeral, this will be entirely based on the family’s decision, you should in the event that you have not spoken to the family consult with the funeral director.

Where should I sit?

The chief mourners generally sit at the front. In most cases, if possible, the chief mourner or next of kin will sit at the end of the pew next to the coffin. In the case of a large church or chapel where it is unlikely to get full, it would be better not to sit right at the back. It is possible that the clergy may have difficulty to make themselves heard and it could make close family sitting at the front feel isolated.

What happens at the end of the service?

The minister at the end of the service will leave and from a respect perspective, everyone should stand. Where the funeral is at a church the coffin will be carried out. When in a crematorium chapel it is likely that the coffin may stay on view, or be hidden behind a curtain or it may even be lowered into the floor. The chief mourners will leave first, followed by everyone else in attendance. In the case of a burial, the coffin will be taken to the grave and the minister will speak prior to the coffin being lowered into the grave.

What commonly happens after the funeral?

In most cases the family and friends will gather together for some light refreshments. The location of this event may be at home or perhaps in a private room, hotel or pub. In some regions the funeral director will be able to provide rooms that can be used.

What facilities are at the crematorium or church?

At a crematorium you will generally find waiting rooms and toilets. A lot of churches do not have a toilet unless the church hall has been opened.

Do I need to be invited to a funeral or can anyone go?

Funeral services are open to anyone, except where the family have asked that it should be a private ceremony. A funeral is an occasion where family, friends and others that knew the deceased can say goodbye.