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Funeral Etiquette

Published: September 13, 2017

Funeral Etiquette

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.

Does it matter what I wear? Can I bring the children? What should I say to the family of the deceased? When should I visit? Vilonia Funeral Home offers guidance on the proper etiquette of visitations and funerals, so you'll feel more comfortable and prepared for attending services.

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

When attending a memorial service or funeral, dress in dark and subdued colors, such as dark blues, grays, browns, and black. Be sure to dress simply and conservatively. Men are encouraged to wear a jacket and tie paired with dress shoes, while women should choose either a dress or a suit. Any jewelry should be subtle and traditional. 

ARRIVING

When attending a funeral or a service, do your best to be on time. Try to enter the facility as quietly as possible. If there are no ushers present, remember that the first few rows of seats are usually for the immediate family and close friends. Acquaintances should appropriately seat themselves in the middle or towards the rear.

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

The funeral home is the best place to visit the family to offer your condolences, as they are prepared for visitors at these services.

FLOWERS

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 gift 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.

WHAT NOT TO SAY

Try not to give comments that minimize the loss, such as "It's probably for the best, because he was suffering too much," or "I've been in your shoes myself."  These will not provide comfort to the bereaved

Wait for the family to discuss the cause of death. Do not bring it up yourself.

KEEP THE LINE MOVING

Visitations can be very emotional, especially when speaking with the family of the deceased. If there is a line to speak with the bereaved and view the casket, be conscious of keeping the line moving. After passing through the line, be sure to stand to the side to continue conversation, or allow the family member to continue to greet guests. The family will often be more available to speak following the conclusion of the service.

MOBILE PHONE USE

Smart 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

Allowing a child to attend a memorial or funeral service can help them say goodbye to a friend or loved one. It is important to not force a child to go, but instead encourage them to share in this tribute with the rest of the family. Before attending, help prepare them by explaining what they might see at the service.

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.

How To Deal With Grieving Children

Published: September 13, 2017

When you are faced with the death of someone you love, it is natural to struggle when coping with your emotions. You may feel distressed, shaken, and preoccupied. You might also seek isolation to cope with your own grief. But if you have children, remember that — perhaps more than ever — they need your support at this time. Their presence is a good reminder of the important people in your life that make it beautiful.

GRIEF IN CHILDREN

Depending on the age and the maturity level of a child, their reaction to the death of a loved one varies. As a child ages and matures, there will be times when they will revisit the memory of losing a loved one.  It is important that you provide support during this difficult time.

For you to have a clearer picture of how children feel and react to the loss of someone who’s been a significant part of their life, we’ve provided an overview based on their age.

INFANTS AND TODDLERS

Do not underestimate the ability of infants and toddlers to feel a loss. Although they might still not have the ability to understand what’s going on, they can comprehend loss through the absence of someone they’ve gotten used to spending intimate times with, through an interruption to their usual routine, and through the stress and grief they sense from their parents and the people around them. To help a child at this age cope with this situation, double your efforts in cuddling and holding them — this helps give a feeling of security and love despite the absence of someone.

YOUNGER CHILDREN

Children at this age might have difficulties differentiating reality from fantasy, and even more so, the permanence of death. You might feel that using euphemisms to explain the situation to your child may be helpful, but that is not the case. Using terms such as “gone away,” “sleeping,” or “lost” might confuse your young child and could give them fears or negative thoughts. For example, if a young child is told that a deceased loved one has “gone away,” it might make him/her feel abandoned or rejected. A young child might also think that it’s probably his/her fault. If you tell them that the person in the casket is only “sleeping,” they might have fears about not waking up again when they sleep at night. When talking to your child about the death of a loved one, it is best to be honest and use simple and direct words that they can understand. 

OLDER CHILDREN

At this stage, children are more likely to understand abstract concepts such as death. They are also at a point when they have more knowledge about how the body works, so be prepared with specific questions they might have. It is very important that your answers are always factual and specific. They might also be more vulnerable and insecure at this time because, aside from the death of a loved one, they are also going through a lot of changes — so give them sufficient opportunities to have conversations with you so they can express their feelings of pain and grief.

TEENAGERS

Because of their growing independence, teenagers usually feel the need to keep their feelings of grief to themselves to show the people around them that they’re grown up and can control how they feel. But because this is most often not the case, they are more likely to engage in high-risk behavior because they are unable to properly express their feelings, especially after the death of a loved one. Although they might feel more comfortable talking to their peers and friends, do not feel disappointed. If anything, this will help them open up their feelings and will make way for healing. This doesn’t mean that you no longer talk to them. Create opportunities where you can talk about the loss, listen to their concerns, empathize with them, and assure them that you are there to help them cope.

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