If you’ve never attended a funeral before, don’t act as if you’ve never been to one. Maybe you have no idea what to do, or not do. It’s ok, we all had to start somewhere. When in doubt, think “movie theater” or “church” attire and behavior.
Here are a few of the “don’ts,” so you are not the center of (negative) attention. Be respectful.
• Shirts tucked in, clean shoes, ties tied and not loose.
• Please, put the phone away (at the minimum turn your ringer off).
• Take off the hat, you’re not Clint Eastwood.
• Do not chew gum throughout the service.
This one time… I wore a Green Bay Packers winter beanie into a decedent’s home. D’oh!
I was into my first week as a funeral director apprentice. It was December in Wisconsin, which means 10-degree weather and snow. Naturally, I was wearing my Green Bay Packers winter beanie. I was with a licensed funeral director on a house transfer. Someone had died at their residence and we were going to bring them back into our care at the funeral home.
After the transfer, the funeral director asked if I had my Packers hat on the whole time. I said yes. He told me to ditch the hat and never wear a hat in someone’s house again.
What Should You Do, Then?
If you want to be seen as someone who knows what they are doing, and have class in attending a funeral, there are a few things you can say and do, to show that you are a respectful attendee.
• Introduce yourself by first and last name (and relation to the deceased) to all of those you come into contact with. You’d be surprised at how many people may have heard of you before.
• Keep the stories shared to nicer and simpler times. No cursing, illegal, embarrassing stories. Save those for your judgment day, not the public.
• Exemplary attire is black suits and ties, but more modern times have gone to blue or gray suits with colored ties, or colored dress shirts (still tucked in). Again, think “church attire.”
• Show up either in the first hour of visitation if you plan on leaving before the service, or thirty minutes before the start of service (it gets hectic near the end of visitation).
What you say, do and how you act during funerals is a reflection of yourself. It is also a great reverence to the deceased and their families. Oh, and one last thing; don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.
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