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Funeral Etiquette

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When someone you know passes away, your first instinct is to offer encouragement, help, and support to those affected — but you may not be sure what to say or do. 

It's okay to feel this way.

Can I bring the children? What should I say to the family of the deceased? When should I visit? Cherished Memories Funeral Services offers guidance on the proper etiquette of visitations and funerals, so you'll feel more comfortable and prepared for attending services.

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What To Say

It can be difficult to know what to say to the family of the deceased to express your sympathy. To begin, offer your condolences to the family. If you are comfortable, share a memory of the deceased. In this difficult time, sharing the joy of the deceased’s life can help comfort the bereaved. For example, “I was so sorry to hear of Mary’s passing.  She was always such a wonderful friend to me."


What To Wear

Try to find out the dress code before you attend so that you can be sure you'll fit in and look appropriate. If you aren't sure, simply try to dress is a way that shows respect for the family and other mourners. This doesn't necessarily mean you must wear black (in fact some families specify "no black" for their services), but try to avoid overly bright colors (unless specifically requested by the family).


When To Visit

Immediately upon learning of a death, it is appropriate for family and close friends to go to the home of the bereaved to offer sympathy and support. This can be a very overwhelming time for a family and they may tire easily. Keep your visits brief; the family will appreciate quiet visits following the funeral.

Offering to assist with child care, food preparation, receiving visitors, or service preparations can provide immense comfort during this difficult process.


Flowers & Donations

Sending flowers is a wonderful way to express your sympathy to the family of the deceased, and can bring comfort in a difficult time. Flowers are a meaningful gesture that can be enjoyed during and after the funeral service.

Floral arrangements and plants can be sent to the funeral home to be present at services, or sent to the home of the family directly.

Making a donation or giving a memorial gift are also thoughtful gestures that 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.

What Not To Say

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 know how you feel, I've been through the same thing", or "At least they aren't suffering anymore." These will not provide comfort to the bereaved.


Greeting the Family

Approach the family and express your sympathy with a embrace or by offering your hands. Don't feel that you should avoid talking about the person who died …. in fact, talking can help the grieving process to begin.


Mobile Phone Use

Cell phones should be turned off or silenced completely during the service. Checking your phone is noticeable and is a distraction to those who are trying to pay their respects. If you must return a message or receive a call, exit the service quietly.


Children

Use your judgment to determine whether your child is old enough to comprehend death and whether attending the funeral will be meaningful to them. It's important for children to be allowed to express their grief and share in this important ritual. If you bring young children, explain beforehand what they will see and experience, and make sure they know the importance of being on their best behaviour. If your child becomes cranky or noisy, remove them promptly to avoid disturbing others. 


Gifts

This can be a very draining time for a family. The gift of food is a kind gesture that the family will deeply appreciate and help alleviate the stress of funeral planning and mourning.

Remembering children in the family is a thoughtful gesture, as this is often a difficult time for them as well. A small gift like a stuffed animal or a book is best.

Time is precious. Helping with household tasks ease the family's burden. Caring for pets, driving children to school, running errands, or helping around the house are wonderful ways to help the family.


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