After a person dies, it can be very hard to know what to do. A lot of people find saying goodbye to a friend or loved one extremely difficult. Paying one’s last respects can be one of the hardest things that a person can have to do. There is an expectation at funerals for people to remain stoic and reserved, which can increase the pressure even more.
If your loved one’s funeral is coming up, and you want to be as polite and respectful as possible, then this post’s got you covered. Here’s what you should know about paying your last respects politely.
In many different cultures from around the world, it is seen as respectful to bring flowers to a person’s funeral. When you are attending a deceased person’s funeral, you should bring flowers for the service, which you can either give to the deceased’s family or leave on the coffin before they are buried.
In European tradition, people throw a single rose onto the deceased’s coffin before the grave is filled in. Flowers are also given to the family, so bear this in mind if you are going to a funeral in Europe or the Americas.
No matter where you are going to a funeral, you need to dress formally. Traditionally, black is worn at funerals. However, in some cultures white is worn. Whatever the tradition is where you live (or among the family of the deceased), make sure that you adhere to it. Regardless of color, you will still need to wear a suit. Make sure that the clothes that you wear fit well, are clean, and aren’t extravagant.
At a funeral, you need to remain cool, mainly for the deceased’s family’s sake. It is not nice to witness somebody screaming and crying at a funeral. Unless you were the deceased’s spouse or a very close relative, make sure that you stay as calm as possible. Even if you do feel like crying and making a scene, don’t.
If you make a scene, everybody’s attention will be brought to you, which isn’t fair. A funeral is about remembering and saying goodbye to a deceased person, not comforting you. You can wear black sunglasses to hide tears if you suspect that you are going to cry, but that will be covered in more detail later on.
After a funeral, there is a wake. It is important that you attend the wake if you have been invited. In the wake, people drink, socialize, and eat food. However, just because a wake seems like a party, that does not mean that it is an excuse to be light-hearted.
Unfortunately, at a lot of wakes, it is common to find people behaving as though they had not just been to a funeral. It is more common to find guests doing this than it is the deceased’s immediate family.
If you were a very close friend or relative of the deceased, then pay your respects to them and say goodbye before the coffin is lowered into the ground. At most funerals, you will have an opportunity to do this.
However, if you do not, then you can wait until all of the other mourners have left the cemetery, and you can sit beside the deceased’s grave and say goodbye to them then. Once everyone has left, you can let go of any emotions that you have been holding back for the sake of everybody else at the funeral.
As mentioned earlier, if you think that you are going to be teary-eyed, then wear sunglasses. It is not strange to find people wearing black sunglasses at funerals, even if the services are held in the evening. If you are going to cry, then do so gently.
Try to avoid making lots of noise, for the reasons mentioned earlier. If you do start crying very loudly, then not only could you set other people off, but you could draw a lot of attention to yourself or interrupt the service. Make sure the sunglasses that you wear aren’t too bold or excessive.
At the wake, you will probably be offered an alcoholic drink. Make sure that you drink moderately. It can be very hard to control the amount that you drink when you are very emotional, but you need to for the deceased’s family’s sake.
If you drink too much, then you could end up making a fool out of yourself, or at the very least saying something that you shouldn’t. Drink as little as possible and eat as little as possible. Again, wakes aren’t parties; wakes are held so that everybody can come together and remember the deceased.
During the funeral service and even the wake, be as quiet as possible. At the wake, you are allowed to talk a little more and be a little noisier, but you shouldn’t shout, laugh, or be seen to be having a good time. During the funeral service, you should make no noise at all, unless you are paying respects to the deceased’s family or loved ones.
If you are with your children or family, and they begin talking or being loud, make sure that you intervene and quieten them down. You will probably offend the deceased’s family or loved ones if you are seen laughing, talking, and treating the wake as an opportunity to socialize.
Finally, make sure that you arrive on time for the funeral and for the wake. The worst thing that you can do is to burst into the service halfway through. It is more acceptable to show up to the wake late, but try your best to be at both places on time.
Usually, the wake is not held too far from the cemetery. Additionally, you will be able to travel over to the wake with the people who have attended the funeral, so there is no reason for you to be late.
At a funeral, you need to be as polite as possible. Funerals are solemn occasions of reflection and sadness. It is especially important to be reserved, dignified, and quiet if the person whose funeral you are attending was not a relative or even a close friend of yours. Try to hold back your tears, be strong, and most importantly of all, be there for the deceased’s family.