Funeral Etiquette and Advice

How to Attend a Funeral Service – Advice and Etiquette

When someone dies, obvious factors dictate that, it is a very difficult time emotionally for family, friends and colleagues.
People can feel uncomfortable because they don’t know what to say or do.

Those immediately affected can feel quite numb and often disoriented. Reactions vary immensely but some patterns emerge and we, at Shoobridge Funeral Services understand these complexities.
As a result, we have prepared this extremely brief guide as an insight into the funeral and grieving process which, we hope, will help you navigate through the various events that will follow this sad occurrence. It cannot cover every eventuality but is provided to assist your understanding and actions.

Before the Funeral Service 
  • If you want to see the deceased, check with the funeral director and make an appointment - there may be restrictions
  • Ensure you know the location, day, date and time – allow for unknown events

Before the Chapel or Church Funeral Service 
  • Turn off all Cellular devices - mobile phones etc.
  • Be prepared to state your name if requested – some families request those in attendance or organisations represented be recalled later
  • Place your charitable gift (donation), in the box provided if applicable or hand it to the funeral director (or their staff)
  • Ensure you have an Order of Service or access to a Hymn book if necessary – this will be provided at the service

During the Funeral Service 
  • Keep the front row seats vacant for the family – but don’t sit too far away
  • Stand up when the coffin is brought in and leaves or, as indicated
  • If you have small children, sit at the end of the row in case you have to exit to avoid disturbance – babies crying can be a distraction, be considerate
  • If you are to speak, be clear, audible and look up – emotions are natural and acceptable
  • Follow the lead of the Minister, Funeral Celebrant or official and sing audibly
  • Remember, the service is to celebrate the deceased’s life

Immediately following the Funeral Service
  • If in cortege, keep closed-up (distance wise) and use vehicle headlights
  • Obtain directions or note phone numbers if unsure of the way - some funeral staff monitor phone calls during travel
  • Support the family at the graveside unless this part is a Private Committal
  • Join the family for refreshments if requested
  • Share memories and anecdotes
  • Speak to the family and offer your condolences

Some Basic Considerations:

  • Refer to the deceased by their name or, how they were known
  • Be kind but, be yourself
  • Initially, if lost for words, try a hug; even men appreciate it (close friends or family only)
  • Be a listener rather than a talker; try and let the family lead
  • Avoid clichés such as, “I know how you feel.” or, “It’s probably a blessing!” (Even if is). “He’s at peace now,” may be appropriate but choose your words wisely. You may have   experienced a death yourself and you may appreciate what the family is experiencing but in truth, each person or family, deals with death differently
  • Support the family and be patient. Allow them to respond in their time. Don’t ‘over-think’ what to say, be as natural as you can — you are there because you have feelings for them but understand that  people do not move through grief on a specific timeline or in a particular pattern

The Following Days

People vary; some need their space others - physical and/or, emotional aid or support – be discerning without being obvious.
After the intensity of the days leading-up to the funeral service and as people go back into their ‘normal’ way-of-life, assuming someone else is helping the principal mourners can be an error. The days following the service are often empty and quiet – this time may be the best time to support the relatives.

There is available, on Shoobridge Funeral Services website, numerous in-depth articles on Bereavement, Grief and Mourning. We, at Shoobridge Funeral Services, have purposely kept these as pertinent as possible to encourage understanding, feelings and actions experienced by and directed for, informed support. Our experience indicates that incorrect advice can be more damaging to the healing process despite its best intention.


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