Somber expressions. Black clothing. Formal ceremonies.
These were the terms used to describe funerals in the not so distant past. In 2017, however, acceptable behavior and dress for memorials, particularly in Southern California, have evolved. Genuine sentiment, flexible apparel and personalized services are the new order of the day. But courtesy is always in style. How do you know what is considered acceptable so you won’t offend anyone at the next funeral you attend?
Dress Code Etiquette
In So Cal, where Foothill Funeral & Cremation is located, practically anything goes. But follow this only when you are certain that casual dress or color is acceptable in the eyes of the people who have planned the event. In some cases, the deceased may have specified that he or she does not want people to wear black for their memorial. If you are unable to pre-determine the wishes of the family, err on the side of caution by dressing conservatively and avoiding bright colors.
Respect the Family
Depending on the beliefs and background of the one who has passed, you may need to observe specific religious, ethnic and personal considerations. The most important thing is to respect the emotions and wishes of close family members and friends. After all, memorials are meant more for survivors than the ones who have died. So, make sure you respect the wishes of the people who have planned the event.
Etiquette about Gifts
Whether you choose to order flowers, give to charity in the deceased’s name, or offer a card or token to help mourners process their pain, it’s the thought that counts. While flowers used to standard procedures, today, you can choose from a host of creative ways to honor the one who has passed while simultaneously encouraging survivors.
Mind the Kids for Funeral Etiquette
If you feel your children may not be able to remain quiet throughout a lengthy ceremony and reception, consider hiring a sitter. However, if the deceased was connected to them, it may be important for you to include them in the experience. Children grieve, too.
More than many other cultures, Americans tend to struggle for words after someone has passed. Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed about saying “the right thing.” In many cases, the appropriate response is, “I’m sorry for your loss.” Funerals are a great time to listen more than you speak. But, when you are spoken to, offer genuine words of condolence. If what you say comes from the heart, you should be good to go.
Make the Right Choices for Funeral Etiquette
If there is an open casket and associated viewing, don’t feel obligated to view the deceased. Act according to your own comfort level.
Etiquette for Signing the Registry
Most funeral services include a guest book. Take time to enter your information, with your name as well as your relationship to the deceased. Family will likely take comfort that their loved one’s co-workers, gym buddies, or golf club friends took time to attend.
Funeral Cellphone Etiquette
Before entering the funeral home, turn your mobile phone to “Do Not Disturb,” or, better yet, leave it in the car. Checking your cellphone during a service says that your work and/or social life is more important than respectfully honoring the one who died.
Even if you do not know the family, express your sympathy for their loss, offer your own name and explain how you knew the deceased. And, if you stumble or inadvertently say something inappropriate, apologize, forgive yourself and move on.
Stay in Touch
Grief doesn’t end with the funeral. So, try to reach out following the memorial. Whether you choose to send a note, call or bring a meal, make yourself available to loved ones. If you show up in person, your stay needn’t be lengthy. And while you are there, don’t be afraid to laugh.
Fondly recalling their loved one could translate to shared stories. Just remain sensitive to the tone. If others are sharing, you can, too. There is never a reason to avoid sharing positive, happy memories about the deceased. Let the bereaved know that your support will not end with the funeral.
We are Here to Help
Perhaps you have special concerns about an upcoming funeral or memorial service? We’re here to provide the answers you’re looking for. We are pleased to answer any questions you may have, without obligation. Foothill Funeral & Cremation is one of very few funeral homes that are certified by the Green Burial Council. With a beautiful showroom and offices located at 402 West Baseline in Glendora, we proudly serves the San Gabriel Valley, San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles Basin, Orange County and the Inland Empire. With years of experience in the mortuary industry, we have worked hard to build a reputation of quality, sincerity and trust. We would be honored to help you at your time of need or in the future. Call today (626) 335-0615 or drop by our showroom.