Funeral Etiquette: Visitation, Funeral Service, & More
Proper Funeral Etiquette
Dealing with a death of a family member, friend, or acquaintance is never an easy thing to accept or go through. At times it may be difficult to know how to conduct oneself, what to wear, and what is an appropriate condolence gift to send for a funeral and visitation. Here are some traditional guidelines that should shed some light on funeral traditions as well as provide guidance on proper visitation funeral etiquette. We've also included how to send flowers to a visitation or funeral that are appropriate and answers for those wondering do you send flowers to the visitation service or visitation funeral.
The Visitation or Wake
The visitation or wake, typically occurs a day or two before the funeral. It is a time to express sympathy and may also provide closure for grieving loved ones. This ritual is common among Catholic and Protestant faiths, and those that attend include close family and friends, distant relatives, neighbors, and acquaintances. When entering the visitation, be sure to approach the family and pass on your sympathies for their loss during this trying time. If there is an open casket, while not mandatory, it is a sign of respect to view the deceased and offer a silent prayer. Guest books are usually on a table at the room’s entrance and should be signed so the family has all names and addresses when it comes to writing thank you notes. If you live out-of-town and/or unable to attend, a short phone call or email (in the case of acquaintances) should be made or sent to express condolences and many send flowers for visitation occasions. If you're wondering do I send flowers to visitation or funerals? Yes, it's very common and considered good funeral visitation etiquette to send flowers ahead of time with a personal message to at least one if not both.
Visitation And Funeral Flowers
Do you send flowers to the viewing or the funeral?
If you're close family or knew the deceased very well, it's customary to send flowers for the visitation and funeral and in some cases, even to the family's home. If you're more an acquaintance, work colleague, distant friend, etc then sending sympathy flowers to their home or the viewing is a polite thing to do. Don't feel obligated to do both, one or the other is fine. If you're wondering how to send flowers to a wake, this same list applies.
How to send flowers to a funeral service
- • Confirm the date of the funeral
- • Call the funeral home to confirm when workers are in
- • Ask the funeral workers if special delivery instructions are necessary
- • Try to order online at least one day before
- • Enter the funeral service address at checkout
Special Funeral Delivery Flower Tips
Florists try to deliver funeral deliveries, all deliveries really, with flowers that aren't entirely open yet. This ensures that the flowers are as fresh as possible and will last longer. If you want a fully blossomed floral arrangement, don't be afraid to have your oder delivered an entire day early and just pre-set it. Just confirm with the funeral home that this is ok and ask if special instructions are required prior to the delivery.
The Funeral or Memorial Service
The immediate family, close relatives, and friends typically attend this ritual. Depending on the faith, the funeral or memorial service may be held at a church, temple, funeral home, or even the residence. Usually the immediate family has reserved seating towards the front followed by close friends, distant relatives, and acquaintances. Arrive 15 or so minutes before the service is expected to start, and if you are late, sit in the back row to avoid any interruptions.
The Burial or Service
For burials that immediately follow the funeral, all attendees are asked to join; however, for those burials that are on another day, typically only the deceased’s closest family and friends attend the burial service. For burials right after the funeral or memorial service, a procession of cars will drive to the specified location, and afterwards, the family may invite attendees to join them for lunch or dinner or another kind of reception, whether at a restaurant or at their home.
What to Say
Knowing exactly what to say to someone at a time when he or she has just lost a loved one may seem daunting, but most often, a simple “I’m so sorry for your loss” is enough. More than anything, you want to express that you are there for the person and his or her family throughout this hardship. Sharing a special or memory of the deceased or an endearing quality about the deceased can also be appropriate.
Proper Attire at Rituals
Black is perhaps the most well-known color to wear, however dark blue and gray are also acceptable colors. Women should wear dresses, long skirts or dress pants, with shoulders covered. Men should also follow the semi-formal style in a suit and tie, and perhaps a jacket as well. Nowadays, more non-traditional memorials also exist, featuring shirts of the deceased.
What to Send: Funeral Flowers Etiquette
When it comes to sending an appropriate condolence gift, the most common is to send flowers as a small or large bouquet, planter, spray, or wreath. Flowers represent growth and new life and can give a sense of beauty and comfort to an otherwise somber environment. Floral arrangements can be sent to the family home, the church (or another place of religious worship), or the funeral home. However, if a family requests that a donation be made instead, these wishes should be respected.