A funeral procession is a profession usually in motor vehicles or by foot, from our funeral home or church or after the place of worship to the cemetery. The deceased is regularly transported in a hearse, while family and friends follow in their vehicles. It shows great respect to allow the deceased to arrive at the cemetery first.
There are no dress codes at most memorials or funeral services. While some family will wear suits and dresses, many will dress in northwest casual outfits. Be comfortable, and appropriate.
A funeral is an emotional time, and grieving is a natural part of the healing process. Don't feel uncomfortable if you or a family member begins to cry. Emotions show that you care and are welcome.
Upon arrival, approach the family and express your sympathy with an embrace or by offering your hands. Don't feel that you should avoid talking about the person who has died...in fact, talking can help the grieving process to begin.
Express your sympathy in your own words, however it feels right to you. Kind words about the loved one who has passed are always appropriate, and a simple “I'm sorry for your loss” or “My thoughts and prayers are with you” can be meaningful and comforting for the bereaved. A sympathy card is always welcome.
Don't ask the cause of death; if the family wants to discuss it, let them bring it up. Avoid giving unsolicited advice, or making comments that might unintentionally diminish the importance of the loss, such as “I've been through this before.”
At a service with an open casket, it's customary to show your respect by viewing the deceased and, if you wish, spending a few moments in silent prayer. The family may escort you to the casket, or you might approach on your own. Viewing the deceased is not mandatory, however, and you should do what is comfortable to you.
After you've offered your condolences to the family, it's perfectly appropriate to engage in quiet conversation with friends and other associates of the deceased who attend. Don't feel that you have to stay longer than you feel comfortable; your presence means a lot to the family, no matter how long or short the visit.
Be sure to add yourself to the register book, using your full name so that the family can identify you in the future. It's also helpful to add information about how you knew the deceased — through work, social clubs, school, etc. There is no excuse for bad penmanship.
Sending flowers, making a donation, or giving a memorial gift are all meaningful gestures to let the bereaved know that they are in your thoughts. The simplest of tributes can be of great comfort to the family and can express your sympathy when words just aren't enough.
This one should go without saying. If you choose to bring your phone into the funeral home, take a moment to make sure you've turned it off, or, at the very least, on silent or vibrate.
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