ATTENDING FUNERAL SERVICES
How do I handle awkward questions about the death?
Be prepared to hear words that are intended to comfort but are awkward or seem inappropriate, such as, “You’ll get over it,” “It was her time,” or, “I know exactly how you feel because I lost my little Chihuahua last week.” While these types of questions may be bad funeral etiquette, understand that many people just aren’t sure what to say or how to say it.
Expect many questions regarding the circumstances of your loved one’s passing, especially if it was sudden, unexpected, or involved an accident. Be prepared with a brief response and remember that you aren’t obligated to tell the entire story. Most people simply want to give you an opportunity to talk, although you may cross paths with those whose morbid curiosity won’t be satisfied without hearing every detail. Including the cause of death in the obituary, if appropriate, can alleviate some of these questions.
Above all, if it is possible, be gracious to all who express sympathy, regardless of how inconsiderate or unfeeling their remarks might appear. They will someday be in your place and understand what is and isn’t inappropriate.
Attending Funeral Services: Arrive early.
- Services often are delayed because of the people who show up five minutes before the starting time and find they have to park a block away and then try to find a seat, perhaps after the service has already started.
- If there is a registry or guestbook, be sure to sign it with your first and last names and, if appropriate, your relationship to the deceased (“co-worker,” “friend,” “colleague,” “college roommate”). It is important to the family to see who attended the service, and they may use the registry to send thank-you notes.
- Don’t try to seek out the family before the service; if you find that they are greeting people, keep your interaction brief and find your seat quickly. Sit toward the front only if you are a member of the family; close friends generally sit behind the family, while those who are co-workers or acquaintances sit further back or in the rear.