If you've recently heard of the death of someone you know, you may feel a mixture of sadness and anxiety. The anxiety could be from uncertainty about proper funeral etiquette. It can be challenging to find the right words and act appropriately in such a serious setting, and this can be even more challenging if you have not attended many funerals.
So, if you find yourself in a situation where you need to participate in a funeral viewing or visitation, a wake, or a memorial service it is essential that you first understand the difference between these services and also make sure that you learn some etiquette so that you will prepare yourself.
For those who might not be able to differentiate between these services, we will be explaining them below:
- A memorial service
A Memorial Service is similar to the funeral service, but in this case, the body is absent (if the deceased was cremated a funeral urn may be present). Memorial service is a gathering where the family and friends of the deceased are invited to. During these service prayers, songs, and a eulogy are also offered.
- A visitation service
This is a time whereby visitations are held at the funeral or family home before the funeral service. Friends and families are invited to meet with the deceased family to offer condolences. However, the body of the deceased might be present, but it all depends on the deceased family wish.
The body of the deceased will be present for this service, and it will have been embalmed and ready for burial or cremation by the funeral home. This is an opportunity for the deceased friends and family to see the deceased for last time.
- A wake
A funeral wake is a small gathering held before the funeral service. This gathering allows family and friends and opportunity to honor, recognize the deceased, and provide comfort to the surviving bereaved family members.
With that being said, below are the etiquettes to keep that will help the families of the deceased feel better, and leave them with additional happy memories of their loved ones.
- Memorial Service Etiquette
Appropriately connecting with people who are grieving requires courtesy. Calling on the family at home or by telephone should always be done with their convenience in mind. In the same way, show courtesy by turning off cell phones and pagers. Dress relatively formally in dark or muted colors and avoid drawing attention to yourself. Also, make sure you give your condolences to the family after the service.
- Funeral Visitation Etiquette
Though it is no longer necessary to dress in black, do show respect when picking out your funeral attire. Conservative suits or dress-clothes, in the dark, respectful colors are most appropriate. DO offer up an expression of sympathy. Often we are at a loss for words when encountering something as final as death.
- Funeral Viewing Etiquette
You should be prepared for the deceased to be in the room with you, also note that viewing is not a religious service. Wear relatively formal, conservative clothing, and stay for a little while to speak with other mourners and the family members. You also don’t have to rush things, take your time to spend time with the deceased as a sign of respect
- Wake Etiquette
When attending this service, make sure you give your condolences to the family, many people have the idea that wake is where people drink and toast the deceased. You can also cease the opportunity to share stories and memories of the deceased.
Funerals are a difficult time for everyone involved, but knowing how to offer support to the family properly make the experience a little less awkward.