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The Never Ending Funeral Procession

I know it is considered rude to cut into a funeral procession, but isn’t it also rude for members of a funeral procession to refuse to allow a car to pass through? I live in a busy suburban area near a cluster of three large cemeteries of different faiths. We see funeral processions fairly often in the area and at least one of the cemeteries often accommodates very large funerals. As I was passing through the area recently, we were stopped at a traffic signal by the motorcycle attendant to allow a procession to turn right onto the road I was traveling on, leading to the entrance of the cemetery several blocks further on the right. There were at least 100 cars in the group and regular traffic was stopped at the intersection for six or seven green light cycles. Quite a number of cars backed up on my side of the intersection waiting for the procession to pass through.

Once the last car in the procession had turned right and cleared the intersection, the motorcycle opened it up and the accumulated traffic was able to cross. This is a well-used boulevard passing through residential neighborhoods on both sides, two lanes in each direction with a planted median in the middle. The cemetery was on the right side of the road a couple of blocks further up with a driveway leading up to the gate. The procession became backed up entering the cemetery, and as a result a large number of cars were waiting in the right lane of the road in order to turn right into the cemetery The back-up stretched for several blocks and was blocking the residential avenues on the right. At each avenue, the pavement is painted “Keep Clear” so that stopped vehicles on the larger road don’t block those that must enter and exit the smaller residential avenues. That’s a pretty standard road marking in this area as our rush hour traffic often gets gridlocked. This is exactly what happened here. One car in the general traffic wanted to turn right from the road into the neighborhood, but there was no opening between the cars in the funeral procession. He signaled that he wanted to turn right but the funeral procession cars crept up to close any possible gaps. As the procession moved forward slowly as cars ahead were entering the cemetery, each car moved up as close as possible to keep this car from being able to turn right onto the avenue. Because he was stopped in the left lane trying unsuccessfully to turn right, all of the traffic that had been stopped earlier by the procession was now stopped up behind him.

It might seem to make sense for him to just go around the block and try again, but because of the three large cemeteries on the street, going around this particular block is a very long drive. Since the procession was backed up and moving up just a car at a time, how would it have hurt to allow someone to cross though into their neighborhood? The motor vehicle code in my state is “Do not block or hinder a funeral procession. Vehicles taking part in a funeral procession have the right-of-way, and if you interfere, obstruct, or interrupt the funeral procession, you are subject to a citation.” But does that mean procession members have to be obstinate about it?

PS. I remember reading a submission in the archives about a funeral procession member who actually ran a vehicle off the road into a ditch to make a point. Really? 1117-14

While there are local codes defining the manner in which funeral processions are to be treated, I have yet to see laws which allow a funeral procession of cars to negate obedience to all other commonsense rules of the road.    Just because people are participants in a funeral procession does not mean they are entitled to flout the law by blocking an intersection when it is clearly designated not to do so.  The only time I’veseen this done is when a police officer stops all traffic and ushers the procession through an intersection.   However, the only remedy I can see available to you is to get a petition from the residents of the neighborhoods affected and appeal to your local elected officials to enforce the law or change to protect the rights of those living within the vicinity of the local cemeteries.

{ 135 comments… add one }
  • AS November 18, 2014, 8:27 am

    Given that this involves entrance to residence areas, I was wondering what happens if there is an emergency vehicle that needs to go to a house? If the funeral procession vehicles take up the whole road that is divided in the centre, it will probably take a while to clear up the cars to make way. Heaven-forbid, I do not want to know that a loved one of mine could not be saved because an ambulance or a fire-truck or the police could not get to them on time!

  • JWH November 18, 2014, 8:44 am

    Hnnh. Seems to me that this person wants and etiquette solution when the situation demands a legal solution.

  • Margo November 18, 2014, 8:57 am

    Perhaps you could write to the local funeral homes and the cemetries to raise the issue and ask that they consider this when having a procession.

    I can see that part of the issue is that if the procession is going along one street and you have a motor cycle blocking off a side street, you would then need and extra person to stop the procession, so the motorcyclist could let the vehicles cross. if the rule is that processions have right of way then people may well not stop at a normal red light as they think they are OK to continue.

  • EllenS November 18, 2014, 9:30 am

    I have never been to a funeral where the procession consisted of more than immediate family members. 100 + cars? I think it is unreasonable to expect to shut down traffic in an entire district for a funeral without some kind of public permit (for a dignitary, for example).

    It’s not as if the members of the procession will be “cut off” from one another by allowing cross traffic while they are stopped.

    • Colleen November 19, 2014, 7:29 pm

      I’ve absolutely seen that happen. Once was a young man who attended a mega-church just off a highway. Had both the highway and and the frontage road blocked for well over an hour and a half.

  • English1 November 18, 2014, 9:55 am

    100 cars in a procession is rather unusual, I would think, and very selfish of them to take up the road in that way. They should have allowed others in.

    What exactly counts as a funeral car in a procession anyway?

    Here, official recognisable funeral cars, such as hearses and black mourners cars/limos are given respect but not other cars. How do you know which cars are part of the procession and not just the non-funeral cars crawling along behind them?

    • Mary November 18, 2014, 11:10 am

      In our area, the funeral home puts suction cupped flags on the hood of every car in the procession.

    • DanaJ November 18, 2014, 11:40 am

      Cars that are a part of a funeral procession get cardboard signs that you set in the hood of the car. They are about 20″ long and 4-8″ high and stick up from the side of your hood. Other funeral homes have flags similar to the ones you see for sports teams.

      Sometimes not all cars get them, but every other car.

    • CW November 18, 2014, 11:53 am

      Typically at the funeral home, drivers of cars wishing to be in the procession are given a flag or sign to display on their vehicle. Also, most are encouraged to drive with their hazard lights on as an extra indication that they are with the rest of the procession.

    • Andrea L. November 18, 2014, 11:58 am

      The other cars either have headlights on and the hazards on to signal that they are part of the procession OR the funeral home puts little flags that say “FUNERAL” on the hoods of the cars that are part of the procession.

      Here, the lead cars in the funeral procession have to stop at red lights, stop signs, etc., etc. But once they have the green light, the remaining cars in the procession have the right-of-way regardless of what the signal is.

    • Lyn November 18, 2014, 11:59 am

      around here, the cars in the funeral procession have little flags affixed to their roof.

    • Susie November 18, 2014, 12:55 pm

      The funeral attendees in their personal cars put on their hazard lights and headlights to signal they are part of the procession. Some funeral homes also attach small flags by magnets to the cars.

      • DianeRN November 18, 2014, 6:33 pm

        Here in Nashville, there is no way to determine which cars are part of a procession after the hearse and limo(s). Some drivers have their headlights on but so do many drivers not in the procession. I grew up in NW Indiana and all the cars got little purple flags to identify them.

        • Lady Macbeth November 19, 2014, 10:12 pm

          Hey there! I was born and raised in Nashville! I had never heard of little flags or any sort of exterior (or interior, for that matter) demarcation for funeral processions until reading this thread. To my knowledge (based on what is done here), cars in funeral processions simply followed the hearse and turned on their headlights. I had seen some with hazard lights on, as somebody had previously mentioned, but that is far less common.

    • Another Sarah November 19, 2014, 5:28 am

      This rule does actually exist in the UK as well, but so many people ignore it. I think that’s pretty rude in itself, but it can be hard to know when the procession ends. When I was a kid you used to get black ribbon to go on the front of the car.

  • AnaMaria November 18, 2014, 10:02 am

    My question is, what if an emergency vehicle had to get through? If traffic was backed up with nowhere to go, a firetruck or ambulance could get stuck. I would definitely encourage the OP to find ways to bring awareness to this issue within her community. It’s not just inconvenient and inconsiderate; it’s a safety hazard!

  • Mags November 18, 2014, 10:22 am

    I was in a small funeral procession earlier this year. There were around 25 cars and the funeral was in the morning so the funeral procession was during a light traffic time. I knew the area where the church was quite well, but by about a third of the way to the cemetery we were in a part of the city that I don’t know at all — it was all developed in the last ten or so years and I had never been in that area and I had no idea where we were going. There were about 5 instances where vehicles tried to cut through the funeral procession — and if they had cut us off from the rest of the procession, we would have lost them at the next lights and not been able to find the cemetery.

    Maybe to you it was obvious that a car could cut through the procession without disrupting it, but to the people in the procession — who, you know, might possibly be in some stage of grief at the time — it might have just seemed as if someone was being disrespectful OR they may have thought that if they let one vehicle through, there would be a flow of traffic that would cut them off from the line and they would be lost. You asked if the procession members have to be obstinate about maintaining the funeral procession line. Uh, yeah, that’s kind of the point of having a funeral procession line — otherwise it’s a series of cars who randomly run lights and stop signs.

    You said the vehicle waiting to turn could have gone around the block but it was a large block. Why did that driver have to be obstinate about turning through the procession instead of taking another route? I just can’t find myself feeling that the driver who had to wait or drive around a large block had it worse off than the people who had to bury a friend/relative.

    • Tracy P November 18, 2014, 11:10 am

      The cars were at a stand still blocking an intersection because it was taking so long for all of them to turn into the cemetery. If the other drivers were going to get lost when they are within sight of the cemetery, then I don’t think they should have been driving. It’s one thing if the procession is moving and someone tries to cut through it, but for 100+ cars to be sitting and blocking traffic for who knows how long is a bit much. I’m sorry that somebody lost a loved one, but the rest of our lives have to go on too.

    • Library Diva November 18, 2014, 11:21 am

      I agree, Mags. Every area has its inconveniences. If it wasn’t funeral processions, it would be the school bus rodeo/parent pickup parade, stadium or mall traffic, etc. If OP genuinely feels it’s becoming a safety issue, (s)he could talk with the funeral homes and ask them to make mourners aware of this, but it seems like (s)he is just seeking validation for his or her feelings of annoyance.

      When my beloved great-grandfather died, we did a procession from the funeral home to the cemetery by way of a rural highway. Apparently, someone had someplace incredibly important to be, because he cut off our entire procession. He swerved around ten cars and cut off the hearse. We were stunned. It’s something I’ll always remember. OP, don’t be that guy.

    • Kate November 18, 2014, 11:43 am

      All valid points you make, but the way I understood it, the procession is backed up at the entrance of the cemetery, so it’s not as if they’re going to get lost now. I think it’s fairly safe to assume that the block they were on being so large means that the cemetery is partly visible, and the cars are stopped parallel to the cemetery. And also as AnaMaria pointed out, blocking entrances to a residential street may create a hazard in an emergency.

    • DanaJ November 18, 2014, 11:43 am

      When I was a kid in this region, traffic would pull over to allow a procession to pass, similar to how they would allow an ambulace to pass in an emergency. It wasn’t a hard-set rule, but a demonstration of respect. I only occasionally see that now, but it’s almost always for the motorcade for a fallen soldier. Most people don’t know and don’t care if there’s a funeral procession now.

      • Lady Macbeth November 19, 2014, 10:16 pm

        I too used to see that all the time (I grew up in Nashville, as I previously mentioned in response to DianeRN’s post above), but I live in Lexington now, where some don’t even pull over for emergency vehicles – no matter what the side of the street they happen to be driving on. So I can’t say that I’ve witnessed any such sign of old-school respect for funeral processions since living still in the South but slightly further up north.

    • Ergala November 18, 2014, 12:26 pm

      From what I understood the cars were backed up from pulling into the cemetery.

      Honestly, if my house is right up the road and the road is blocked I am not going to be too happy about taki another 10 minutes or so to go an alternate route when my destination is 2 minutes away. I highly doubt if they were all pretty much at a stand still that they were going to lose the procession by letting one car turn.

      In this day and age who on earth doesn’t have gps or at least the ability to print off directions?

      • Mags November 18, 2014, 2:34 pm

        I do not have GPS in my vehicle, and I have never printed of cemetery directions because there is such a thing a funeral processions.

        • Anna November 18, 2014, 5:11 pm

          So, from your first post above, you say you cling together in a procession and won’t allow cars to cut through junctions so you can follow the car in front and won’t get lost en route to the cemetery. And you won’t print off a map to help you find the cemetery, because there’s ‘such a thing as a procession’. Mmmmn. Circular, and self- fulfilling.

          I certainly would cut the hearse and official cars all the slack in the world. But i do think the rest should, as Admin says, obey the common sense rules of the road.

          • Ergala November 19, 2014, 12:17 am

            I agree Anna. My cell phone has GPS and will talk to me and it’s a very basic smart phone. I don’t rely on others to make sure I get somewhere, I always print off directions before I go somewhere unfamiliar. It’s absolutely ridiculous not to.

          • Mags November 20, 2014, 4:47 am

            Well, there’s that, and also where I am, it’s fairly rare to get information on the cemetery before the funeral, and once I am at the funeral, it’s not really a good time for me to whip out my trusty computer and printer to make a map.

            Also, where I am, the ACTUAL TRAFFIC LAWS allow for funeral processions having the right of way. So for me, the common sense rules of the road include following actual laws.

          • Ergala November 20, 2014, 10:14 pm

            Mags every single funeral I have been to we were given an address as to where the cemetery was. You can also inquire as to the address. I’m sorry but it just comes off as if you are trying to say that there is no other way to get to the cemetery unless you are in the procession. Not to mention if there is an obituary often times the name of the cemetery is listed as to where the deceased will be buried.

            Here funeral processions get right of way as well…but for one with 100+ cars I can almost promise you that there would be a permit required for them to completely block traffic like that. The police would be out doing traffic control.

      • wren November 18, 2014, 4:21 pm

        I don’t have GPS. I carry paper maps in my car, though.

      • metallicafan November 18, 2014, 5:45 pm

        As an example, my parents are elderly, have no idea what GPS is, and have never ever used a computer, they barely know what a computer is for! In their case, they would have to entirely depend on keeping up with the procession.

        • Ergala November 19, 2014, 12:21 am

          And nobody else going could possibly print them off directions? They couldn’t park somewhere and ride with someone else going?

          I get lost so easily but I don’t expect the world to stop turning for me. It’s absolutely mind boggling that people are justifying holding up traffic through 6 or 7 green lights or blocking the entrance to a road in stand still traffic from the procession because people “might” get lost on the road the cemetery is on.

          • metallicafan November 19, 2014, 9:53 am

            I was only giving an example that not everyone has GPS, or any idea how a computer works. That is all.

      • Another Sarah November 19, 2014, 5:33 am

        Honestly it’s not about getting lost on the way to the cemetery. It’s a mark of respect for the dead.
        This might have been an excessively large funeral, and might have needed some discretion, but in a smaller one, I would say the funeral procession did nothing wrong.
        Funeral processions have to make way for emergency vehicles – anyone else should be able to wait a few minutes as common courtesy for people who are grieving.

        • Vicki November 19, 2014, 1:46 pm

          It’s also about respect for the living. At one extreme: if a lot of people are being delayed by a large procession, it’s possible that one of the people delayed was going to visit a sick or dying relative, or was an doctor or nurse on the way to work at a hospital. Emergency vehicles have sirens, yes: ER staff on the way to work don’t, and neither do people on their way to medical appointments.

          Perhaps more to the point, not everyone can afford, financially or in other ways, to build an extra twenty minutes into every trip because there might be a funeral procession somewhere in the area. That’s asking the babysitter to get there 20 minutes earlier; should she in turn aim to get there another 20 minutes earlier in case she is delayed by a funeral procession?

          If I look up how to get somewhere, I don’t also check the map to see the locations of all local cemeteries and funeral homes, so I can guess how much earlier I need to leave in case a funeral procession blocks the road for more than a couple of minutes. I make plans that allow for common delays–if I have a doctor’s appointment at 3, I take the bus that will get me there at 2:28, not the one that is scheduled to arrive at 2:58.

          • Another Sarah November 24, 2014, 11:38 am

            But as I already stated, this was an exceptionally large funeral procession and the funeral directors needed to consider that more carefully – we’re not talking about 20 minutes in a general situation, we’re talking about 3.
            And in an area where there are a lot of large funeral processions as explicitly stated in the OP? Well then that feeds right into that “common delays” you were talking about.

    • Princess Buttercup November 18, 2014, 12:32 pm

      But in the case of the posted story, they were at the cemetery and just taking a long time to pull in. If someone looses the line within sight of the cemetery and can’t find their way, they have issues. If they were far from the burial location, then sure, cutting could create quite the issue, but that is not the case in the neighborhood in the posted story.

    • Lindsay November 18, 2014, 12:35 pm

      If the problems is as severe as OP describes it, then there are major safety concerns. It’s one thing to miss a light or two for a funeral procession, and I do respect the tradition. But 100 cars and 6 or 7 lights for them to get through, with traffic piling up at a majorly busy intersection, and then the procession itself is delayed due to turns, with nobody able to pass through? That’s at least 15-30 minutes of delay. People are missing appointments, being late for children’s bus stops, etc. I’d be frantic if I were stuck just outside my neighborhood and people were deliberately inching up to not let me turn in.

      I think a thoughtfully worded letter signed by a bunch of affected people should be presented at the funeral directors in the area (or the cemetery representatives who run burials?). Perhaps a solution can be reached where parties of more than X cars will be split into two processions, with leader for Part 1 and Part 2 each knowing where they are going, and a 5-10 minute delay between the two so that regular traffic can pass, and a reminder that if the cars are stopped blocking a street, that it is within funeral procession etiquette to let them through, even if you won;t let them merge into the procession.

    • Dee November 18, 2014, 12:41 pm

      But the driver trying to turn right would not have blocked the cars in the funeral procession from seeing their ultimate destination. The cars in the procession were in view of their end point. I wonder how anyone could know who is and who is not in the procession; used to be that you put on your lights to indicate your status but now, with daytime running lights on all the time, there is no way to distinguish between generic and funeral traffic. Anyone could cut in and nobody would know. Around here you cannot block intersections for a funeral.
      Personally, I think the time has come for this tradition to end. Flyers with maps are often handed out now at funerals to help individuals get to their destination. That makes much more sense. We’re not following decorated horse-drawn carriages through small villages anymore.

      • kingsrings November 18, 2014, 4:54 pm

        I agree. There’s just too much of a safety issue right now concerning funeral processions. I understand the point of them completely, but feel that they’be just reached a point nowadays of being too dangerous. And they’re also quite inconvenient for those who are trying to get to erk o time, pick up their kids from school or daycare, go to a job interview, etc. There are many other easy ways for people to get to the site without having to be in a procession

    • SamiHami November 18, 2014, 1:24 pm

      The OP isn’t talking about cutting off the procession and causing people to get lost. I think the OP is saying if the procession is at a stop anyway, and someone needs to simply turn in front of one of the cars to get onto their street, that they should be allowed to do so. Deliberately pulling up so that the person can’t get through is simply mean. It doesn’t interfere with the grieving process to allow a car to cross yours if you are already at a stop anyway. It is always sad to lose someone you care for; I’ve sadly been in that position myself several times. That doesn’t magically excuse people from simple common courtesy.

      It costs the mourner absolutely nothing; all they need to do is stay where they are, since the procession isn’t moving or is moving extremely slowly. It can cost the motorist a lot, depending up on their situation. And if the mourner driving the car is so stricken with grief that they cannot recognize that extending a small courtesy will not harm them, they are probably too grief stricken to be driving.

      • Specky November 20, 2014, 5:38 pm


    • EllenS November 18, 2014, 1:44 pm

      With respect, if the drivers are in such a state of grief and distraction that they are going to get lost from a standing line of cars waiting to turn into the cemetery on the same block, I submit that they are in no fit condition to drive at all.

      I agree with the suggestion of a letter to the city, and I am quite sure there are some firefighters or emergency workers who would be happy to sign. I am sure the members of the procession would allow a flashing-lights emergency vehicle through, but what about the impassible intersections further back? The delay of 6 or 7 light cycles could be the difference between life and death in some situations.

    • Amanda H. November 19, 2014, 4:27 pm

      In addition to what others have pointed out about this particular roadblock being at the entrance to the cemetery itself, sometimes there just isn’t “another route” into a given neighborhood.

      I live in one such neighborhood. There are only two exits to the neighborhood, both on the same main road within about a block of each other, so if something (construction, an exceptionally long funeral procession, etc.) blocks both of them off, the neighborhood is effectively cut off from everything else. We thankfully don’t have to deal with processions that often due to the fact that we aren’t too near any cemeteries or churches, but if a long line of cars was on the main road and constantly blocking both exits to our neighborhood, there’d be no way for us to exit, and anyone trying to get in would end up blocking cars behind them as they waited for the procession to let them through. And in addition to not having another route in, if those cars wanting to turn in decided to go “around the block” so as not to block traffic behind them, it’s a LONG way around back to that point, and they’d have to hope that the procession still isn’t blocking the way into the neighborhood.

    • Colleen November 19, 2014, 7:32 pm

      In this day and age there is no excuse for having to follow (tailgate) the person in front of you to any location, including a funeral.

      Print directions ahead of time, get them from the funeral home website, call and ask, GPS, etc.

      • admin November 20, 2014, 5:32 am

        I was in a funeral procession once, towards the rear, and my section of cars got cut off from the rest in front. By the time we pulled into the cemetery, the burial had already taken place. Where I’m at, the grave side formalities are done quickly and literally five minutes delay due to sitting at a stop light is enough to miss it. So I do understand the need to keep all cars in the procession together but usually police close intersections to facilitate the entire procession going through at once.

  • DCGirl November 18, 2014, 10:56 am

    It’s not just funeral processions. I worked at a college that rented its stadium out to local high schools for their graduation ceremonies. We dreaded graduation season because the convoys of cars heading to the stadium parking lot would block all the other entrances to campus and not let employees get through.

    • Amanda H. November 19, 2014, 4:32 pm

      In the last city I lived in, I came to dread the annual 5k walk/run the city would hold because it went in a loop around the cluster of blocks that included my apartment complex. Sure, it was on a Sunday morning when most people wouldn’t need to be out and about, but it was always during the time my family needed to get to church (which was outside the loop), and all the adjacent intersections were closed off completely to vehicles in order to keep the walkers and runners safe. I can respect that, but it still made it extremely frustrating trying to get to church on that morning each year.

      That was the same city where I learned not to go grocery shopping at a certain time of the day because people were heading home from work, and would gridlock the only exit to the grocery store. It was almost impossible to actually leave the grocery store due to everyone pulling into the intersection even though they couldn’t make it all the way across.

    • Library Diva November 20, 2014, 2:03 pm

      I deal with some of this stuff, too, living in a city. There’s the 5ks, the street festivals, and the large concert venue I live near. Is it aggravating to get stuck in this traffic? Sure! But I knew all of that stuff was there when I chose where I was going to live, and I feel the benefits of living in a vibrant area outweigh the occasional negatives. I try to just plan around this stuff and grit my teeth and get through it when there’s no other choice. I don’t see the point in getting upset about it.

  • Anonymous November 18, 2014, 11:26 am

    Wow. On the one hand, yes, it’s rude to interfere with a funeral procession, but on the other hand, it’s also rude for a funeral procession to interfere excessively with the normal flow of traffic. A funeral procession of 100 vehicles, obstructing an intersection for six or seven green light cycles, definitely counts as “excessive” in my mind. As for “why didn’t you go around the block?”; suppose the OP was driving, say, vehicle three of a ten-car traffic jam? In that case, there’d be no way to safely get out. Anyway, when I die, I don’t want a funeral procession, for precisely this reason. I don’t want to be the reason why someone else is late for a job interview, and doesn’t get the job, or arrives late for work, and gets in trouble with their boss, or doesn’t get to the hospital on time, or any number of other perfectly legitimate things that the people held up for the funeral procession could have been anxious to get to.

  • Denise November 18, 2014, 11:27 am

    How often are you having funeral processions in excess of 100 cars? That seems rather excessive.

    Were the cemeteries there prior to you moving into the area? I’m going to assume they were. And that funerals were occurring prior as well.

    One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone moves next to something that is already established (a cemetery, a school, a loud highway and so on) and then complains that it is there. If you are regularly stuck because of a procession of 100+ cars, perhaps it’s time you moved. However, those 100+ cars are filled with people who are mourning the immediate loss of their loved one. In my opinion, that takes priority over your need to get to XYZ by a certain time.

    • chaff November 18, 2014, 4:01 pm

      So, should people living in the area always plan to leave their homes an hour earlier, just to accommodate for the possibility of the funeral procession blocking them off completely? Would you be prepared to do that, every single day of your life? For work, to take your children to school, to visit family? Because I doubt the OP is complaining about a few extra minutes here and there, and about getting to the shopping mall. Like others have said, any number of the cars trying to politely give way to the mourning party could have been on their way to an emergency situation of their own. We should all be considerate of each other, whether you feel you are more important or not.

      • Pixi November 19, 2014, 4:51 am

        Well, just recently in the town I live in we had a local serviceman die in line of duty. I wouldn’t have known about this at all, but the town had the foresight to put out some digital traffic signs along the route several days in advance warning of funeral times and to be prepared for delays or to seek alternative routes.

        This seems like a good solution to me. We made sure to avoid the area at the time of the funeral.

    • Devil's Advocate November 18, 2014, 5:28 pm

      Your mourning a loved one does not take precendent over:

      1. Making sure my kid gets off the bus safety and inside the house (especially depending on weather and time of day)
      2. Trying to get to the hospital (doesn’t sound like an ambulance could possible get through this mess
      3. Make it to a job or job interview. I could get fired or not get the job–so essentially your mourning has cost me dearly.

      I could list more. You have the right to mourn and I am respectful of that right and empathetic to the fact that you have just lost a loved one; however when you excessively abuse that right (and yes 100 cars is excessive) then you lose my respect and some of my empathy.

      • Denise November 18, 2014, 9:04 pm

        A funeral procession not having a car *squeak* in to make a turn does not equate a funeral procession not allowing for emergency responders to get through. It’s a huge, gigantic leap to assume that to be true.

        At no point did she state that the procession was blocking a school bus, children from crossing the street in a safe manner or any of the above. These are all assumptions based on her description.

        To be completely honest and fair, I am willing to bet it was no where near 100 cars and it is rather infrequent. It sounds more like the OP was irritated and annoyed that they would not allow a car to get through and spare them from having to go around. It is not costing anyone an hour of time, it is costing them 10-15 minutes if they chose to take an alternate path.

        Normally, because I can’t control traffic in any direction going anywhere, or any emergency that I may encounter anywhere, I always leave 10-15 minutes earlier than the time it takes to get somewhere. I do not see how this is any different?

        • Weaver November 19, 2014, 1:25 am

          To be completely honest and fair, I am willing to bet it was no where near 100 cars and it is rather infrequent.

          But you weren’t there, the OP was. How is it “completely honest and fair” to imply that the OP is lying about the number of cars? It sounded to me as if the unusually high number of cars in the procession, and the subsequent extent to which traffic was backed up, was one of the reasons the OP thought this particular procession was worthy of note.

          • Denise November 19, 2014, 11:26 am

            I’m not implying that she is lying, rather, exaggerating. Or, it may have felt like over 100 cars when it may have been 50. Which is still a rather large procession. Since she didn’t see the start of the procession and only saw it from her view, and possibly the end of the procession, if she chose to stay and wait it out, there is no way of knowing if it were 100+ or just felt like it.

            My reference to in honesty and fairness, is that it is of my opinion is that it was an exaggeration. That is why I feel the way that I do. If there were weekly services resulting in 100+ cars blocking traffic for an unknown period of time, my opinion may change.

      • Daphne November 18, 2014, 11:55 pm

        @ Devil’s Advocate, I doubt it is the same family funeral with 100+ cars going by every time your kid needs to catch a bus. Maybe if your kid has that much trouble at the bus stop you might consider driving him yourself? (especially depending on weather and time of day).

        • Anonymous November 19, 2014, 9:02 am

          Sadly, some schools require kids under a certain age to be met by a parent or guardian at the bus stop, so it’s not necessarily a “behaviour” issue.

          • Ergala November 20, 2014, 10:17 pm

            Our son’s bus stop is right outside our house, we are still required to be outside to get him off of it even though he is getting dropped off right in our front yard and he is in 3rd grade. I totally get that.

          • AnaMaria November 21, 2014, 1:48 pm

            Yup, I teach older kids right now so it’s not much of an issue, but I used to work with preschoolers, and if a parent or babysitter wasn’t waiting at the bus stop, the bus brought them back to the school and a teacher or admin had to call the parents to come pick the kids up. Even the most angelic, well-behaved pre-schooler shouldn’t be expected to walk across a busy street or through an apartment-complex parking lot unsupervised, and, when it’s -30 degrees outside, you can’t risk the child walking up to a door to discover they’re locked out because mom got tied up on her way home.

            Of course, even if you do choose to drive the kids to school, that wouldn’t make this particular situation any less sticky- depending on the time of day, parents would either be caught in the snarl trying to get kiddos to school on time or trying to pick them up on time (while teachers where held up at the school waiting with the kids).

        • Catherine November 19, 2014, 9:04 pm


  • Wendy B. November 18, 2014, 11:40 am

    Maybe instead of a petition for a new law, it would make more sense to have a petition to the municipal authority to advise funeral homes that they need to limit the number of cars in a procession and ask for their cooperation, explaining the situation. This can be done before the funeral starts by speaking to each person/family attending and asking them if they wish to attend the burial and, if so, if they would be willing to ride with another family or offer room in their vehicle. Funeral homes that cooperate could find themselves with more business when people think, “X funeral home looks out for the entire community.” When the time comes to choose a funeral home, people often go with the ones they have a good impression of.

    Other options include not having a committal service at the cemetery (I am seeing this more and more often) or scheduling it at a certain time after the funeral, depending on the number of people wishing to attend and the distance to the cemetery from the funeral home. The procession then can consist of a few immediate family members.

    I think the people of the community will get farther if the matter is phrased as “We all really want to work together to make this work for everyone while respecting the families.” as opposed to “This is getting out of hand, someone make a law!” One makes people feel included, the other makes them feel marked.

    • SaucyMarla November 18, 2014, 3:27 pm

      Wendy B, my thoughts exactly.

    • DanaJ November 18, 2014, 3:38 pm

      I used to live about 4 doors down from a funeral home. When they were expecting HUGE funerals, they provided a (very nice) bus to shuttle people from the hall to the cemetery, then back again for people to get their own cars. So the procession was usually “immediate family + bus”.

      They also set up the route to the cemetery to be right turns only so they could keep everything moving.

      It was very much a downtown location, so if they didn’t manage it well, they’d snarl traffic like crazy! But I never noticed a problem for the years I lived there.

      • Wendy B. November 19, 2014, 10:52 am

        Wow, that’s a great idea. It’s an excellent example of a service business thinking about more than just the paying customers of the day.

  • SingActDance November 18, 2014, 11:41 am

    I agree that is an unusual amount of cars, and they should have tried to leave the smaller streets open. But the man who was completely blocking a lane when he could have circled a few blocks was just as, if not more, egregious.

    • EllenS November 18, 2014, 1:40 pm

      If he was standing in a turn lane, and everyone else was waiting for the same (impassable) turn, not so much.

      • SingActDance November 19, 2014, 2:53 pm

        “Because he was stopped in the left lane trying unsuccessfully to turn right, all of the traffic that had been stopped earlier by the procession was now stopped up behind him.”

        From the OP, it sounded as if he was in the left lane, wanting to make a right turn. So the procession was blocking the right lane, and he was blocking the left lane. If he’s just gone on and circled around, people wanting to go straight could have used the left lane to go around the procession. Instead he decided to block ALL the traffic until he could make his turn.

  • Karen Lingel November 18, 2014, 11:46 am

    I never understood the need for a “funeral procession”. Is it that the bereaved are grieving so badly that they must remain in one tight group, even in their cars, for support? Is it that in the olden days people didn’t have GPS or know the way to their local cemetery, so they had to follow each other so as not to get lost? Was it strict protocol to keep people from disrespectfully stopping at the dry cleaners on the way to the cemetery?

    Here in CA, every funeral I’ve been to hands out directions to the cemetery explicitly saying that funeral processions have to obey all the traffic laws and have no special rights. It’s a “procession” only because people are going to the same place at the same time. The last funeral I went to, we arrived at the cemetery before the hearse did.

    • Kate November 18, 2014, 1:36 pm

      Historically it used to be a way to show the importance and wealth of the person who had died, as well as how much they were respected and loved. The more people and carriages, the more the carriages and horses were decorated and the better they were decorated, all these things were very important.

      It was also very expensive, and after the Victorian era people started to specify that they did not want their loved ones bankrupting themselves for the funereal procession.

      It took a while to fade out though, and sometimes people would remark on what a “disgraceful, disrespectful” funereal procession the survivors of the deceased were having. The survivors of the deceased were sometimes even accused of being cheap or greedy, that they wanted more of the deceased’s money for themselves and weren’t willing to spend it on the funereal procession.

    • MsDani313 November 18, 2014, 2:06 pm

      “I never understood the need for a “funeral procession”. Is it that the bereaved are grieving so badly that they must remain in one tight group, even in their cars, for support?”


      And it isn’t about just getting to the destination. It is about getting there together. My family walks with the casket to the gravesite and then prays. If everyone took their own route we would have to wait for everyone to regroup.

      While you may have to wait until the procession is over to continue with your life…you are lucky…you are still living!

    • Moralia November 18, 2014, 2:40 pm

      A lot of funeral traditions puzzle me, but I usually chalk them up to “stuff that helps people deal with loss”. Heck, processions on foot where people accompany the casket from wherever the hearse is parked or from a church or pavilion nearby to the graveside are solemn, dignified and reflective to my mind.
      But funeral processions out on public roadways kind of baffle me, the mourners are all split up in separate cars and it’s just sort of weird to drive around blocking traffic as if everyone along the route is waiting to see the procession. That’s just my feeling, mind you and I’d never intentionally interfere with one, just it’s not my sort of thing.
      In this case. I think gathering like minded folks together to spell out how these processions can be a problem and then working with the local funeral homes to mitigate it is a good idea. It’s not a good idea to block intersections and if the mourners are asked nicely to allow cross traffic through when the procession is at a standstill, it would probably avoid unpleasant incidents in the future.

      • Shea November 24, 2014, 10:12 am

        Agreed. When my grandfather died this past spring, we all just waited in the parking lot of the cemetery until the hearse arrived, and then walked with the casket to the graveside. It was nice, and seemed much more intimate and dignified that clogging up the road with cars.

  • Annastasia von Beaverhausen November 18, 2014, 12:02 pm

    To me this is similar to people who buy homes near airports complaining about airplane traffic, or those who buy homes near golf courses complaining about golf balls in the yard. I’m sure there are benefits from living around cemeteries – a quiet neighbourhood, for one.

    I’ve been in more than one funeral procession, and they suck. While I’m sympathetic to being stuck in a traffic jam, I’m not willing to give the OP a pass, because being in a funeral procession sucks more.

    The laws protecting the right of way of funeral processions exist for a variety of reasons, and are basically absolute except in the case of emergency vehicles – every driver of ever procession I’ve been in, be it me or someone else, is given a Funeral Procession placard to place in their car window, as well as clear instructions that if an emergency vehicle is coming with its lights and sirens going, get out of the way.

    Sorry OP, no sympathy here. Is it annoying to be delayed by other people’s grief? Yes it is. That annoyance doesn’t clear the way for callousness or disregard for the mourning of others. Either wait your turn after the procession has passed, or move to a different neighbourhood.

    • Kirstenh November 18, 2014, 6:52 pm

      Being in a funeral procession does not grant you the right to break the law. It’s not an issue of which sucks more, it’s an issue of legality. Not blocking an intersection wouldn’t break up the procession as the car is just going through, not joining in, and the traffic isn’t moving anyway.

  • Jinx November 18, 2014, 12:52 pm

    I think that it would make sense for those in the procession to keep clear of streets for those turning… but if there really were that many people, they might not feel like it’s a good idea to open any spot so that a non-procession driver could slip in and cause them to lose the group.

    I don’t quite understand the “keep clear” things you have near you, as I’ve never seen something like that, but it may be wise for the town to post an officer in that area when a procession is occurring.

    Otherwise, this regretfully seems like a case of living by the airport and complaining about the noise.

    • Amanda H. November 19, 2014, 4:52 pm

      I suspect the “keep clear” marks on the road are similar to the signs I see all over NY, which say “Do not block side road” at many side roads that get blocked by traffic stopping for a light later down the road. It’s basically to prevent side street access from being blocked by cars on the main road.

      • Vicki Cole November 19, 2014, 10:14 pm

        Amanda, I thought the same thing. There are a number of places in my city that display “Do not block intersection” signs. Even when there are no signs, it’s just common courtesy to not block an intersection. Sometimes it’s unavoidable – you’ve started driving past the intersection and traffic suddenly stops – but most of the time, it doesn’t do anyone harm to wait on the other side of the intersection for traffic to start moving.

        • Amanda H. November 20, 2014, 2:40 pm

          Exactly. The worst I’ve gotten is impatient people behind me honking, either because they can’t see that traffic ahead is backed up to the intersection, or because they want me to cross so they can get in the intersection before the light turns, even if it means blocking the side roads. Either way, I’m not moving until I can get all the way across.

  • MrsL November 18, 2014, 2:00 pm

    I grew up in a very small town and our cemetery was at the end of the street where I lived. We saw a lot of funeral processions and, once my mom explained to us what they were, my brother and I were always respectful of them. My brother used to love to run wild in a Zorro costume and he always made a point to stop playing, take his hat off, and bow his head while the cars passed by. I like to think that the sight of a little boy doing that made a few people smile a little through their tears.
    A few years later my family had to be part of three processions. We were horrified when a group of kids began shouting at the cars to hurry up because we had interrupted their game of street hockey.
    Impatient drivers are simply grown up versions of these kids. They have zero sympathy for the people who are grieving and they are just annoyed that they are inconvenienced by the grief of others.
    That is a pretty sad statement about our society.
    Perhaps residents could ask for email notifications as to when they can expect a procession so that they allow for more travel time? I’m sure the funeral homes would be able to easily compile a distribution list and send a quick email without trouble.

    • just4kicks November 18, 2014, 3:19 pm

      @MrsL: I just got very choked up thinking of a little boy in a Zorro costume paying his respects as the cars drove past. How sweet, what a lovely thing to do. I betting you’re right about a few smiles through tears as the procession went past.
      I don’t remember why, maybe it was the anniversary of Princess Diana’s death, but the news footage showed Princes William and Harry, Diana’s brother and Prince Charles walking behind the carriage that held Diana’s coffin. All these years later, and I burst into tears. Gets me every time, especially if they zoom in the letter written by the boys that simply says “Mommy” tucked into the beautiful flowers atop the carriage.

      • B November 19, 2014, 8:33 am

        With respect, they called her Mummy, not Mommy. They are British.

        • just4kicks November 20, 2014, 4:35 am

          @B: I stand corrected, I believe you’re right.

    • Anonymous November 18, 2014, 3:54 pm

      Okay, there’s “impatient,” and there’s “six or seven green lights taken up by a slow-moving procession of 100 vehicles.” Surely there has to be a line drawn somewhere. I agree with the previous suggestions about splitting the procession in two (with a break in between to allow normal traffic to pass), but also, what about just making the procession smaller in the first place? I mean, surely, not everyone’s coming from the same place, and it can’t be more convenient to meet at someone’s house and convoy over, than it would be to meet at the funeral itself. Yes, it’d be a bit more inconvenient to wait for everyone to get there, but the thing is, massive funeral processions put that inconvenience on the general public, which most people would say is rude. Throwing the “funeral” thing into the mix is supposed to negate that rudeness somehow, but I really don’t see how, especially when blocking traffic could significantly screw up the day for a lot of people, and even become a safety issue. I hate to sound callous, but roads are for the living.

    • NostalgicGal November 18, 2014, 10:48 pm

      I was sitting on the floor watching President Kennedy’s funeral procession; and I will always remember Jackie standing there with Carolyn and JohnJohn, and she bent over and said something to JohnJohn and he saluted. I learned later he had been taught by Dad to do that a few weeks earlier; and when the guncarriage passed, Jackie suggested that he salute, so he did. He was barely three…

      • just4kicks November 19, 2014, 2:59 am

        @NostalgicGal: Yes, also a very powerful image, also makes me tear up. I saw a show on JFK awhile back, and heard that once Jackie O got onto air force one to swear in the new president, the new first lady said gently to her “why don’t you let me help out of your (blood stained) clothes…” Jackie O spun around and yelled “NO!!! I want them all to see what they did to Jack!”

        • hakayama November 19, 2014, 5:54 pm

          And from that particular location, I remember the Bird of Prey smiling, SMILING, while her mate was sworn in.
          Sometimes all it takes is ONE glimpse of a persona to form an opinion.

          • Hollyhock November 20, 2014, 3:07 pm

            Bird of Prey? That’s how you refer to the wife of a president on an etiquette site?

          • just4kicks November 22, 2014, 1:55 pm

            @hakayama: also on the special I saw, it said while waiting for Jackie O to be brought to Air Force. One, the President to be was calmly sitting enjoying a bowl of vegetable soup. I mean, I know people have to eat, it just seemed odd and disrespectful, given the circumstances.
            A good stiff scotch on the rocks? Perhaps.

          • hakayama November 22, 2014, 10:19 pm

            “REPLY” buttons after your postings are missing, therefore the following is a response to Hollyhock and just4kicks, and will probably show up before THEIR statements.

            Perspective: These days, people might ask “Where were you when the Twin Towers fell?”
            Decades ago, the question/s/ were: “Where were you during the great blackout (in the NE)?” Or: “Where were you when JFK was killed?”
            I know where I was. I know how people felt, how they reacted. It was probably the most memorable Thanksgiving ever… and then some.

            @Hollyhock: Given that we no longer believe that authority, governmental or other, comes from God, a less than loving/respectful/idolatrous opinion about a political figure is to be taken as blasphemy.
            This forum, with its proper rules of conduct, does appear to allow for expression of opinion. And I did just that. Tried to do it indirectly. Neither then, nor now am I aligned with a political party. It’s the individuals that “speak” to me. Also the conduct and projected animus count. And “Lady* Bird” counted for sure.
            Had you heard the original voices, back when, you probably would be going into a dead faint.
            *Consider looking into the reference to “bird” here…

            @justforkicks: As a hypoglycemic, I definitely relate to the need for SOME food every 3 hours or so. For that reason, I carry “emergency rations” in my car and purse: rice cakes, crackers, trail mix, etc. Any “finger food” should have met LBJ’s need for food. The veg soup shows up ugly. I do not think it was ever shown THEN, probably for political-diplomatic reasons. The “special” you mention must have been on the 50th anniversary, and since I’ve given up TV (without pain) over 20 yrs. ago, I missed it.
            I did not miss the “first showing”, when the country was reeling from the news. People were glued to their TV sets, too numb to go about daily routines in a coordinated manner. I imagine there were exceptions, such as the soup eaters…
            An item of somewhat personal note, was the arrest of Oswald. My Father said: “Watch and wait. That man is going to be killed.” That’s all I can write now. I cannot see lines too well…

          • NostalgicGal November 22, 2014, 11:53 pm

            I wouldn’t begrudge LBJ having a bowl of soup. Food, to calm a stomach; I could understand; and some quiet time to order his thoughts. A belt of scotch, might seem more appropriate but probably more h*ll on the stomach. I remember seeing Ladybird’s smile, but. I didn’t take it the same way….

  • just4kicks November 18, 2014, 3:11 pm

    My mom’s best friend of many years lost her mom this past summer. It was a very small procession to the cemetery from the church…I want to say 15 cars max. The rudeness of people who couldn’t sit through ONE extra stoplight to let a few cars go by was very sad. Add in the honking and raised middle fingers (yes! At least three cars flipped the bird to us as we went past) was just disgusting, and my mom and I said we hope Aunt B didn’t see any of that.

  • NostalgicGal November 18, 2014, 3:38 pm

    Perhaps it needs legislation and…. if it is known it is going to be a large procession then they need to do just like for parades; and block off and plan route and HAVE ALTERNATE TRAFFIC DETOURS for those that need to get through/around/past.

    I live in a small rural town now, but. We have funerals that may take being held in the school auditorium as it is the only place large enough… and once that procession starts (they go two blocks away from my house) you will wait awhile. However, there are other ways to go through town avoiding ‘Main’ and go across just past the auditorium and come back if you have to. They put up cards in most of the public places on when someone’s funeral is and where it will be held, and you get warning that day that some things will be BLOCKED or forget parking near X or some such… then we have the train track that can be in use and everyone has to wait for a hundred car train to roll through…

    A combination of perhaps setting certain routes and having parade like traffic routing will work.

  • Kim November 18, 2014, 3:53 pm

    I really hope I don’t sound like a jerk, but a funeral procession sounds a little… excessive. People die. People have to die since there are 6.9 BILLION people on earth. When it’s my time to go, I will die and I will demand NO funeral or, good grief, funeral procession, that demands the respect of motorists for miles around as attendees make their way to a cemetary.

    A simpler and more environmentally-friendly death for me, thanks.

    • Cat November 18, 2014, 7:06 pm

      You might want to consider green burial. It’s environmentally friendly and inexpensive.

      • Mary November 20, 2014, 12:23 pm

        My father-in-law had a fairly green burial. He wasn’t cremated but he was not embalmed. Which meant that the funeral and burial had to take place less than 48 hours after he died. My mother-in-law wants the same thing except I think it would make her happier if we even passed on the casket, wrapped her in a burlap sack and buried her the next day. She is incredibly frugal and concerned about the environment.

        • Ergala November 20, 2014, 2:59 pm

          I plan on having a bio urn. Check them out.

  • RC November 18, 2014, 3:56 pm

    Funeral processions are not something I am familiar with, as they are not a common feature of funerals in my country. Whilst I can understand the traditional aspect, and that grief is observed differently in other cultures, I am glad that we do not have funeral processions.
    I can understand driving in convoy, and regrouping once you arrive at the cemetery; but if you are stopped in a line of traffic and are blocking people trying to turn across, it’s terribly rude not to leave a space to clear traffic. I find that behaviour terribly thoughtless and entitled.

  • StephenJFry November 18, 2014, 4:06 pm

    I agree with those who think it is time for the funeral procession tradition to end. In the age of GPS, googlemaps, horrendous traffic, general lack of driving ability, daytime running lights, etc., they just don’t make sense to me anymore.

    I think this group was incredibly rude to inch up and purposefully block intersections. They have no excuse for refusing to allow a car to turn through their 100 car procession that is stopped. “Keep the intersection clear” is a very well-established rule of the road and applies to everyone. Most likely, the law exists in your town even if it’s not really enforced or you’ve never heard of it (something I also find concerning).

    I’ve had to navigate through a funeral procession that was spread out across all 3 lanes of a 3-lane highway. Going 40 MPH. In the Bronx. It was the rudest encounter I ever had with a funeral procession and I make no apologies for maneuvering around them. (They had gotten themselves all mixed up with other people not in the procession who didn’t know what to do, if they could pass, etc.) They had zero right to take up all 3 lanes and cause an unnecessary traffic jam, and were completely in the wrong, in my opinion.

    I don’t think funeral procession are rude themselves, but I think these are 2 examples of how they can be, and why we should just abandon this practice all together.

  • Hollyhock November 18, 2014, 4:15 pm

    If they are just creeping along waiting for their turn to pull into the cemetery, it’s absurd to hold up non-funeral-goers from entering or leaving the subdivision.

    Most subdivisions have a bit of landscaped property at entrances; I would ask the HOA or whomever is in charge of that area to post signage reading “Funeral processions: Please do not block entrance or exit” where it can be read by those in stop-and-g0 traffic. There is no law against making such a courteous request via signage or otherwise. If that doesn’t work, I’d address the city.

  • EchoGirl November 18, 2014, 4:15 pm

    I have to admit, the first thing I thought of when I read this was the episode of the show “House” where one of the characters gets so impatient waiting for a long funeral procession to pass that he just guns his engine and cuts right through the procession…really hope no one would do that, at least!

  • Kimber November 18, 2014, 4:18 pm

    Given the choice, I’d rather be waiting ten minutes to turn into my neighborhood than pulling into a cemetery for a burial. This is one of those things that is bothersome if you choose it to be bothersome. I think we all need to adopt an attitude of kindness and make the choice not to be easily annoyed.

    I buried my 25 year old brother a month and a half ago. It was horrific and my brain still isn’t always working right. I’m sure I inconvenienced people during those first few grief filled days. I hope I can one day extend the same kindness and patience I was shown during that time.

    Take it up with the local authorities and cemeteries but when it happens, please just choose kindness.

    • hakayama November 19, 2014, 11:56 pm

      Dear Unknown Kimber: you are unknown to me, yet known through the pain I felt at losing my own Brother of similar age. There is nothing to prepare one for such an event. There is nothing that can console a person under these circumstances. The tears just run unnoticed, the thoughts are non-existent, the focus is wobbly at best…
      That is perhaps why even small gestures of consideration are so noticeable. Some of those gestures do come from almost complete strangers, and at the least expected moments. My Brother’s funeral was in mid-April; around Haloween, so many months later, children were kept from ringing the doorbell in our house. I’d say THAT was well beyond the garden variety consideration on the part of all those good people in the neighborhood…
      I wish you the strength and serenity of spirit you need now and for a foreseeable future. I hope that the passage of time will dull the pain, and bring on some acceptance of the sad reality of your loss.

  • violinp November 18, 2014, 4:23 pm

    Generally there’s 4 – 5 seats in a car, and most trucks have 2 – 3. Either every vehicle was filled, and this person was a local celebrity/political figure, or people weren’t doubling up the way they should to minimize trouble for others. Heck, my family did that when my mom died, and it was less than half a mile from the funeral home we met up at to drive to the church. I think there were 4 cars for 16 people, plus the hearse.

  • Kate November 18, 2014, 4:44 pm

    I have to say, I am a bit surprised by the reactions of some of the commenters. I think there is a wide line between being sympathetic/empathetic to mourners and being rude, and expressing concern at being unduly inconvenienced by them isn’t the latter.

    Perhaps a law should be passed nationally that only three cars, not including the hearse, may be part of a funereal procession. This would still allow the family of the deceased to travel together, but would not force traffic to a standstill.

    I have all sympathy for the mourners, but to me your right to express your grief ends when you start to inconvenience total strangers (to modify the popular saying about swinging your fist). Forcing dozens and dozens of people to be late for whatever they are doing and come to a standstill for probably half an hour (based on the traffic lights mentioned) is not okay.

    And I have to admit, I wonder how many people really are comforted by the funereal processions, as some have suggested, and how many are doing it just because it is traditional.

    • kingsrings November 18, 2014, 10:57 pm

      I completely agree, Kate. The death affects only the deceased’s friends and family. The whole area shouldn’t have to stop and accommodate them! I certainly never expected that when I lost family members. I wouldn’t want people to be inconvenienced because of a funeral. You want go travel together so as not to get lost, then make other arrangements. Call me cold-hearted or whatever.

      • Kim November 20, 2014, 12:00 pm

        Completely agree with both of you.

  • Doris November 18, 2014, 4:54 pm

    At least eight (United States) states have laws forbidding the blocking of intersections. I can find no laws granting funeral processions an exemption. It sounds as though processions through OP’s neighborhood should have extra traffic control assigned to stop the procession cars before intersections, wave through the non-procession vehicles wanting to turn at intersections, and assure funeral attendees of directions. One officer to lead one hundred or so cars is just not adequate!

  • Cat November 18, 2014, 7:00 pm

    Funeral processions are a time in which courtesy and common sense should be combined. No one can block access to a public road in my state. Drivers must leave space for cars to pass through stopped traffic onto an intersecting street.
    The worse funeral procession in which I have been a participant was the funeral of a former student. The church service was lovely, but the hearse and the family car turned onto an interstate highway and took off at eighty miles per hour. Two other teachers and I were in a car at the end of the procession and we lost the procession. We managed to locate the cemetery, but it was huge and it took us some time to locate the correct burial service. My only thought was that Luis would have enjoyed the speed of his funeral procession.

  • Mary November 18, 2014, 7:04 pm

    Makes me grateful that for the last 12 years I have lived in smaller towns where the cemetary is next to the church.
    However, in my extended family, we usually have the funeral and maybe a reception at the church. Then the burial is usually the next day with only immediate family present (10-15 people.)

    • Anonymous November 19, 2014, 12:47 am

      Mary–The idea of having the cemetery adjacent the church sounds really convenient. No funeral processions necessary, and a perfect backdrop for generations of ghost stories told at Scout sleepovers. One question, though–what’s the procedure in those towns for when a non-Christian person dies?

      • Mary November 20, 2014, 12:20 pm

        Well we are talking small town Central Minnesota here. In the smaller towns, there really aren’t any non-Christians. In most of the smaller towns (300-2,000 people) , 99% of the population is Catholic. In the towns that are larger than that, the cemetery is usually just blocks away. In the city of 4,000 we are currently living in, the Lutheran cemetery is right next to the Lutheran church. The Catholic cemetery is about 5 blocks from the Catholic Church. Of course, in the closest larger city (60,000 people) one needs to deal with funeral processions because very few churches have a cemetery near them and there is a larger non-Christian population.

  • Libby November 18, 2014, 8:09 pm

    Where I live people pull over and stop when a funeral procession goes by as a mark of respect for the death of another human being and as an extension of sympathy for the mourners. To me, this is civilized behavior.

  • Minnie Mouse November 18, 2014, 8:27 pm

    I believe that for some cultures a funeral procession that doesn’t stop until it reaches its destination may be a thing. When each of my grandparents passed away, I remember a giant stick of incense being burned on the way to the cemetery, to guide the soul’s way to its final resting place. I recall that it was a big deal for all of the family and friends to follow the hearse without stopping for red lights or stop signs. But since this was important for our funeral traditions, we also hired a police escort to block off all traffic at all intersections for all cars in our procession to proceed through at a regular speed. I think we had three or four squad cars, and they took turns leapfrogging each other along the route, in order that every intersection would be legally blocked, while our fairly large procession was able to move right through. Maybe if a funeral procession requires this kind of accommodation, laws should state that this kind of police escort is mandatory. It wasn’t cheap, I think my mother told me it cost a few thousand dollars to have that service. But it was a very dignified and orderly send-off, too, and with police standing there with lights flashing, no one would dare to flip anyone the bird.

  • Margaret November 18, 2014, 9:18 pm

    The state I live in does NOT require vehicles to give a funeral procession the right away unless a police officer is accompanying the procession. I do notice that some people pull over to the side of the road (like it is required for an emergency vehicle) due to respect or ignorance of the law which creates further traffic problems in my opinion. Funeral processions should have to obey all traffic laws and ordinances just like everyone else.

    The situation described by the OP is absolutely unacceptable. I would raise it with the city council or HOA. And yes, the members of the funeral procession are rude for not letting him pass to turn into the neighborhood.

    I don’t pull over or yield the right away unless I am legally obligated but I will let people in or turn in front of me just to be nice. Life is too short to worry if someone passes me or turns in front of me.

  • hakayama November 18, 2014, 10:44 pm

    NostalgicGal came up with a great idea: parade-like routing and allowing for cross traffic to be unhindered.
    As I recall, if NYC parades along Fifth Avenue did not paralyze the entire city, it’s because the marchers stopped at intersections, cross traffic went through and everything remained relatively normal along parallel avenues.
    I do vaguely remember JFK’s televised funeral ceremonies, but I just cannot recall the actual procession. I’m inclined to believe that the 100 car processions are an exception rather than the norm, so the issue is mainly moot. Still, the local authorities should be addressed to examine the potential problem in each community.

  • fizzychip November 18, 2014, 11:40 pm

    I recall back at my Dad’s funeral, we were a short procession made up of the hearse and one mourning car, within which was my Mother, sister and me. From the chapel where we had the service there was us, plus no more than 5, non marked “civilian” cars, which followed us to the cemetery doing a very slow speed. While I had other things on my mind that day, I do remember a couple of the non-funeral marked cars being seperated from us because of day to day traffic. This was no big deal as they were not officially part of the mourning procession.

    I DO recall some lunatic who felt the need to muscle in between us and the hearse all for the sake of making his turn. While no “biggie” in the scheme of things, it was a distressing moment. That someone else could have so little compassion or forethought, that they would disrupt a funeral procession like that. That’s one of this things I always remember when thinking of my Dad’s funeral, some 30 years gone now.

    While I do understand the OP’s point, all I can think of is how I felt when experiencing something similar. However I realise that 100+ cars is no comparison for our modest affair. Were ALL of the vehicles involved part of the official procession? i.e Limos etc? or were they just regular vehicles following along? If they were not official cars, then once the limo’s went by, the rest should have to obey the traffic rules.

    I agree with the suggestion that your concerns be brought up with the cemeteries involved to ensure that the best solution for all is found.

  • Daisy November 19, 2014, 10:42 am

    One of the assumptions behind special rules for a funeral procession is that the people forming it are distracted by grief and perhaps unable to do much beside following the vehicle ahead of them. It’s also directed at getting everyone into the cemetary at the same time so that the committal can proceed without the family having to wait an undue length of time sitting next to an open grave, waiting for everyone to arrive. In the area where I live, it’s not uncommon for people to pull over to the side of the road when they meet an oncoming procession and wait respectfully for the last car bearing a funeral flag to pass them. In the OP’s case, the funeral director may have requested that the members of the procession keep up with each other and avoid gaps. That’s been the case in several funerals I’ve attended.

  • Nicole November 19, 2014, 10:54 am

    I was recently at a funeral in rural Indiana and was amazed at the courtesy shown the funeral procession. It was a long procession (a younger woman who was very active in her church so much of the community came to the funeral and burial service) travelling about 5 miles to the cemetery. The procession needed no police escort (as we normally have in my more suburban area) all traffic stopped at intersections for us and cars who were travelling in the opposite direction of the funeral procession pulled off the road as a sign of respect. My mother commented that she had not seen cars do that in our area in since the 50’s or 60’s. Yes it was a minor inconvenience, for about 10 minutes for most people, and it was a lovely way of showing respect for the deceased and her family.

  • Shh its me November 19, 2014, 12:23 pm

    I’m I understanding the psychical description correctly ?

    There are 2 northbound lanes of traffic , the right lane is moving very slowly as 100 people are trying to turn into a cemetery. A driver in the left of two lanes wants to turn right , through the right lane which is traveling forward ? That’s not remotely legal anywhere. The procession stopping at the intersections wouldn’t make that maneuver OK. the answer would be the same if 100 cars were going anywhere , and backed up a lane , you can’t turn right from a lane to the left of a forward/straight traveling lane.

    Modifying that slightly ,and saying the driver was actually trying to merge into the procession and the make a right turn , I don’t know how anyone could legislate “you can not interrupt a funeral procession unless you jut want to merge into the lane so you can turn while the procession is in sight of the cemetery. ” Which would imply people in a procession have the ability to read minds to know “oh they want to merge in because they need to turn right on the next street.” Either we treat funeral processions as one vehicle or we don’t.

    By the way I have seen police merge into a procession , it took an extra couple seconds but yes the procession made way for the officer. That wasn’t an ambulance or a fire truck with lights and sirens.

    A few people mentioned “not being able to find the cemetery” I could find almost every cemetery but a grave site would be next to impossible(in a timely manor , 5 minutes late mean your walking into a graveside service in progress) to find without the procession. They are generally private property and the streets are not necessarily (if ever) on public maps. I’ve seen procession drive across the grass to get to the grave site , obviously I would never drive around the lawn of a cemetery without the direct instruction from the appropriate authority.

    • Eileen November 23, 2014, 8:17 pm

      This is one of the things that struck me. He zipped up and then wanted to turn through the lane to his right. I also noted that the cars were not at the cemetery, they were turning right not the road that the cemetery was on, a few blocks further on. That probably means the cemetery was not in sight and the cars may not have realized how close they were. Some were probably irritated that someone was trying to “cut in line” instead of waiting their turn.
      I wonder how often there is a procession with that many cars. Once a month? More? Less?
      For those thinking people should car pool, perhaps you live where things are closer, and not possibly 10-20 miles to the cemetery from the funeral home/church as I have encountered. Also, people may live in a totally different direction from each other another 10-20 miles or more, and not even know each other, especially attending a funeral that large.

      • Eileen November 23, 2014, 8:19 pm

        Sorry, I meant turning right onto the road where the cemetery was few blocks further on.

  • JWH November 19, 2014, 1:12 pm

    I need to revise my will. If my relatives insist on a funeral procession after I die, I’m going to insist they all drive those little Shriner cars.

    • NostalgicGal November 19, 2014, 7:10 pm

      [LIKE]<<<<<made my own button!

    • kingsrings November 20, 2014, 12:42 am

      Lol!! Clown cars are an exception.

      • JWH November 20, 2014, 10:04 am

        Actually, that’s the solution to the long funeral procession right there: a clown car. All hundred-plus people fit in one car, and they all get out of it when they get to the cemetery.

        Oh dear. I think I need professional help.

  • Elizabeth November 20, 2014, 11:43 am

    Most often, those in the funeral procession do not know where they are going; they are simply following the car in front of them. When you start ‘cutting’ the line in half to let traffic through, you’ve now lost those in the back.

    Please just wait for the procession to pass; you will appreciate it when you are in a funeral procession and afraid of getting lost, and getting everyone following behind you lost also.

    • Hollyhock November 20, 2014, 3:10 pm

      I think nowadays with GPS and smartphones and whatnot, the notion that one has to be in a convoy to locate a cemetery is somewhat antiquated. If one is capable of driving one is capable of looking at a map provided by the funeral home or an online program, and finding one’s way there.

  • Enna November 21, 2014, 1:31 pm

    I like admin’s advice here.

    I remeber years ago when I went to a fireworks dispaly at my secondary school for the first time. They actaully had a traffic police office directing the traffic and being fair to limit congestion. Maybe the companies involved need to be notified?

  • Libby November 21, 2014, 2:52 pm

    One’s material possessions shouldn’t determine whether one will be able to attend the graveside service or not. Not everyone has a GPS or or smart phone. It’s been my experience that funeral directors don’t provide maps or directions to the cemetery, one is supposed to follow the car in front.

  • Mandy November 27, 2014, 12:18 am

    Not long ago, I was driving down an unfamiliar country road and didn’t notice the line of cars coming from the opposite direction until one pulled out in front of me and I had to slam on my brakes. I raised my hand in a “What was that??” kind of gesture (no middle finger or anything) and the passenger in the car started wagging her finger and screaming at me (I couldn’t hear anything but it was obvious). Then a Jeep came roaring toward me in my lane and stopped inches from my car. I had no clue what was going on until a guy in a black suit got out of the Jeep and leaned against it and the rest of the cars started following the first and I noticed that in the distance I could see a couple of headstones and realized what was going on.

    That could easily have ended in me t-boning the first car. There was no hearse, no obvious signs (I think some of the cars may have had tiny flags on their antennas but not all), no cemetery sign, no warning at all that this car was about to suddenly turn into what appeared to me to be a random side street off a country road. There has got to be a better way.

  • Janet November 28, 2014, 9:53 am

    I have no issues with waiting for processions to go by – i am showing respect for the dead.

    We had no procession for my late paternal grandmother as her burial plot next to her late husband was 2 hours drive away (we had moved her down closer for her family to care for easier a few years prior). The Mass was held at our church, then those who wanted to go to the committal at the cemetery were asked to arrive there at a certain time which gave us plenty of time to eat the church catered lunch before heading out on the drive. There was no procession with flags from one town to the next either. The funeral home took her casket from the church to the cemetery for us also.
    Whenever my mom’s mom dies, I am unsure how things will work as she has lived in another city for some time in an assisted living place but she has a plot ready for her next to her late husband that is local. It is possible my aunt and mom may make arrangements for the Mass at the church they used to go to before moving that is close to the burial site, and I am sure there will a procession.
    My mom’s aunt was buried recently. I attended the Mass but could not go to the burial then the luncheon after as I had to work. As each person arrived at the church, they asked if we were going to the cemetery or not, I said I could not, and they directed me to park in a different location with no flag on my front end of my car. My parents who are retired were able to go so they were placed in the line with the flag for those in the procession behind the hearse and a few cars for more immediate family.

  • Donna December 18, 2014, 2:26 pm

    The last funeral procession I was in was in a crowded metropolitan area four hours away from my house 15 years ago. I didn’t know the area and had no local map. I either stuck with the procession from the funeral home to the cemetery or I got lost in the middle of somewhere I didn’t know while I was an emotional mess and crying off and on. Some guy got mad at the funeral procession and was playing “I’m going to cut in” games (and eventually turned left, so no, he didn’t have to get in). I always yielded to funeral processions because I was taught to do that, but now that I’ve had that experience, I’m even more careful to do so. These days I think if there are no flags or other items stuck to the car, the cars put on their blinkers. It used to be that if you saw a procession of cars with their lights on it was a funeral, but now that most cars have their lights on it’s flashing lights.

  • Rob February 7, 2015, 3:17 pm

    I always yield to funeral processions but I was stuck with one of 50 or so cars… Now because of this I could not make my turn and had to go down a route I was not familiar with, I missed the interview because of it. Funeral processions cause too many traffic hazards , and why should my life and day be made more difficult for a family and person I do not know? Yes I am sorry for your lose but I have to get to places too.

  • DaveF March 17, 2017, 1:04 pm

    I live around the block from a catholic church. The funeral processions usually line up on my street, waiting till everyone is there, then they all turn onto the main street together. The line can get quite long. I’ve had problems simply getting out of my driveway a few times. No, I’m not trying to travel the same direction as them. Even if I was initially planning on it, I’ll gladly drive around to block to avoid it.

    My problem is when the procession ends up blocking my driveway. Not once has anyone even attempted to get out of my way. They see me at the end of the driveway with my reverse lights on, waiting for a time I can get out, and 20+ cars will pass and not bother to let me out of my driveway. I COULD just wait, Maybe it’s a small procession this time. But if it backs up past my driveway, I end up having to wait until everyone is lined up, and then until they all get to go. That’s ridiculous to think that I’ll sit there and wait for that.

    So now I’m forced to be a dick and cut off the procession just to back out and head in the opposite direction as them. I get cursed off and honked at sometimes. I end up flipping off people in a funeral procession, which is the last thing I want to do. But use some common sense here people. If you’re gonna all be waiting at that stop sign at the bottom of the road, just let someone trying to get out of their driveway do it. It’s usually just for work, but why make me late for work? And what if I actually had a bigger emergency?

    I understand that people are grieving. But those of us who live next to churches or graveyards have to repeatedly deal with these idiots. It sounds cold, but there are 7 billion people on this earth. Plenty of them suffering and dying much worse deaths than your loved one. The fact that one of those 7 billion people died happens to be one who you know does not give you the right, in my opinion anyway, to lose all regard for everyone else. Grieve. Be sad. But realize that there is a world going on outside of what’s happening to you now. Be reasonable.

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