The Mourning Yoga Pants

by admin on June 4, 2015

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about when my grandpa died. His second wife (who has been my grandma for as long as I can remember, married when I was an infant) had her own family, grown children and grandchildren when they got married. I never knew them well, they didn’t come to events for my grandpa’s family and we didn’t go to events with grandma’s family. There was never any bad blood, it was just how we worked it out. Both of their families were huge and settled, trying to integrate them was just logistically impractical.

When grandpa died one of the step great grand nieces showed up to a Catholic ceremony in flip flops, a tank top, and yoga pants. She didn’t understand why people were upset, it was all black, “That’s what you do at a funeral, right?” (Her own words exactly.)  She tried to sit up front in the first few pews, reserved for immediate family and surviving spouses of siblings that had passed. Grandma had to walk her back further into the church and sit her down in another section.

She sat through the ceremony on her phone, as I found out later from one of my mom’s cousins. Updating Facebook, playing games, not paying attention at all to what was going on around her. When it was time to drive to the grave site she practically ran to her car so she could be first in line behind the hearse. We got to the grave site and she made a huge show of being so upset she could hardly stand, she needed to sit down. She didn’t wait for the pallbearers to carry the casket down, she started right down the hill to the grave site. My grandma had to rush over to her and grab her shoulder to stop her and let the casket go first.

Grandma leaned in close and said something to her and the girl. Girl looked over in my direction and pulled a disgusted face. Behind me were my grandpa’s two surviving siblings (in their late 80s and both having suffered strokes) and their spouses and the surviving spouses of his other two brothers, also elderly. We let the older generation have the extremely limited graveside seating, my mom and my sister and I all stood directly behind them and tried not to cry. I glanced over at one point, there was a car horn and screeching tires on the street, and I saw her standing around looking bored, shifting her weight and fidgeting restlessly before pulling her phone out and typing on it again.

After the graveside ceremony she immediately bolted to her car and drove off. The rest of us lingered for a bit before heading back to the church where there was a sandwich type luncheon provided for us. She had finished a plate of food and was going back for a second plate before anyone else even showed up! (It was obvious, she still had the telltale leftover bean sauce and a bit of potato salad still on her plate.)

I overheard her later on when the luncheon was almost over. “Oh, no, I never really knew him all that well, but it’s so sad when people die, you know?”

Let me be clear, this is a woman in her mid 20s. I don’t know where her immediate family was or why anyone else on her side of the family (there were about five or six of them present) didn’t say anything to her. My mom tried at one point, and so did the cousin who saw her on her phone during the service, she waved them off with her hand and scoffed audibly. My grandma was the only person she seemed to listen to, so in addition to burying her husband of nearly thirty years she had to corral disrespectful family members as well.

I’m glad it was handled. I’m glad it’s over. I’m glad that the next time (and probably the last time) I see this woman will be at my grandma’s funeral where she can go all out mourning, I’ll be polite and respectful and give her and her family the space they need. 0603-15

{ 139 comments… read them below or add one }

another Laura June 4, 2015 at 6:50 am

Some places of worship won’t even admit people clad “inappropriately.” I don’t know if they make exceptions for ceremonies such as funerals or weddings as opposed to their normal worship time.
Some of the ones that also happen to be tourist destinations can be quite strict. My husband once saw a man refused entrance to St Peter’s Basilika because he was wearing shorts so he tried to wear his wife’s skirt.
Back on topic, I think some people (drama llamas) love to make any event as much about themselves as possible. So she wears an outfit that is sure to get attention and then does her best to make certain that as many people as possible see her as often as possible. How much you wanna bet she’s worn a white lacy dress to someone else’s wedding?

Reply

Jewel June 4, 2015 at 6:59 am

It seems that this person was very poorly raised and/or has significant social issues. As you say, you can expect more of the same uncouth behavior when your Grandma passes. If you anticipate that she is more likely than not to repeat her antics at that time, you can mentally prepare for it. Maybe that will help lessen your inevitable impulse to strangle her graveside.

Reply

Susan Purcell June 4, 2015 at 7:20 am

Wow, how disrespectful. Could someone not ask her to please go home and change. If this was my grandparents funeral, I think I would have. Also my grandmother married late in life again, sad but we never mixed families either. I miss my grandma too. Sorry for your loss.

Reply

Comradde PhysioProffe June 4, 2015 at 7:20 am

I get the sense that this young relation wasn’t the only “drama llama” at the funeral, but that the LW and others at the funeral were making a big to-do and escalating the drama themselves. Who cares what someone else is wearing? Why “escort” this person around? Family members sometimes act weird at funerals, and different people deal with death and grieving in different ways. And it is very presumptuous for the LW to make assumptions about how sad or not sad this other relation is allowed to be. Even now, some time after grandpa died, the LW is still thinking about this distant relation’s behavior? Why did so many people at this funeral find it necessary to scrutinize and attempt to control this young woman’s behavior?

Reply

AnaMaria June 4, 2015 at 8:06 am

The woman flat-out said she was never close to the OP’s grandpa. I have a very hard time believing she was so grief-stricken that she didn’t realize that tank tops and yoga pants are completely inappropriate for a funeral, that the casket goes first to the gravesite, or that you put your phone away in a place of worship.

You say we shouldn’t scrutinize this woman, but you are scrutinizing the OP. It’s not okay for her to be upset that someone was so disrespectful and self-centered at her grandpa’s funeral?

Reply

psammead June 4, 2015 at 5:32 pm

Any time you post at a community like eHell to decry someone else’s behavior, scrutiny of your post and of your own behavior comes with the territory: why would you think otherwise?

“Distracting” clothing is only as distracting as we choose to make it; if you’re focused on paying your own respects to the dead, another person’s “inappropriate” apparel shouldn’t rate more than a passing glance. The yoga pants only became a “disruption to a solemn ceremony” because OP and others decided to focus on them and on their own indignation.

Reply

keloe June 5, 2015 at 9:03 am

It varies from country to country, but where I live, a tank top at any type of a Catholic ceremony would be considered inappropriate. It’s just not church wear.

Reply

psammead June 5, 2015 at 10:27 am

I’m perfectly aware of what is generally considered appropriate attire at funerals: i.e., conservative attire in somber colors (not necessarily just black). Also, I agree that this young woman’s behavior was extremely rude and attention-grabbing.

But I still maintain that clothing, even unsuitable clothing, is as “distracting” as bystanders choose to make it. The clothing by itself isn’t distracting people’s minds from paying their respects to the dead: it’s their thoughts of “A tank top and flipflops! Appalling! Did no one ever teach this brat what is and isn’t proper to wear at funerals? Obviously she’s better fed than taught! How rude! How disrespectful! How inconsiderate! What a cretin! Was she raised by wolves? How dare she! There’s no excuse for that! Young people today have no home training!” And so on. And giving space in your head to thoughts like these is still a choice.

Shoebox June 4, 2015 at 8:13 am

Erm, because she was way out of line in each case, thus either disrupting a solemn ceremony, or showing flagrant lack of respect and consideration for others, or all three at once? ‘People grieve in different ways’ is not a catch-all that excuses bad behaviour (and at any rate, from the description, this young woman can I think safely be assumed to have not been so paralysed with grief that she was unable to control herself).

I agree that the OP seems to be upset about this slightly out of proportion to the offence, but it’s interesting that you don’t give him/her (or any other of her family that were upset) a pass on the grounds of grief. You’re allowed to get away with outrageous behaviour in that case, but not to react strongly to it?

Reply

Enna June 16, 2015 at 4:45 am

Maybe if this woman had behaved with a bit more sensitivity the clothing wouldn’t have been such an issue? Because of the way she behaved she drew more attention to herself. I think the family did not escalate the drama. There were no arguments or fights. If she had turned up the tank top and yoga pants that would raised a few eyebrows at any funeral I think.

Reply

PhDeath June 4, 2015 at 8:35 am

I agree. While the young woman’s behavior ranged from “sadly clueless” to “quite appalling,” it seems the other mourners were spending an inordinate amount of time watching/judging her rather than focusing on the occasion themselves.

I think “escorting” would be appropriate in certain cases (i.e., reserved or limited seating), but the majority of this sounds like a great deal of over-the-top tsk-tsking.

Reply

Shalamar June 4, 2015 at 8:47 am

I agree. I do think that being on her phone throughout the service was disrespectful and deserved a talking-to, but I couldn’t care less about how she was dressed.

Reply

Wild Irish Rose June 4, 2015 at 8:59 am

So when a cretin shows up at a family member’s funeral, you’re supposed to just let that person behave badly? This young woman showed ZERO respect for the deceased or his surviving spouse and elderly siblings, to say nothing of all the other mourners. She was there to make a spectacle of herself. Why should this type of behavior be tolerated? I have a couple of funeral stories myself that feature idiots calling attention to themselves, making everyone else uncomfortable, and demonstrating an appalling lack of consideration for the deceased or his loved ones. Yoga pants are not appropriate dress for a funeral, period. Don’t get me started on the young people who show up at church in cutoff shorts and tank tops. Yeah, God may not care what people wear to church, but if you can’t go to court or to school or to see the Queen of England dressed like that, shouldn’t you have enough respect for the church service, the wedding, the funeral, or whatever the event is to dress like you’re there for that event and not as if you’re at your Zumba class?

Reply

Lerah99 June 4, 2015 at 11:59 am

The last time I was in a court room I was shocked at how some of the people were dressed.

One woman apparently thought a halter top, short shorts, and clear plastic 6 inch platform heels are appropriate to wear to court when being sued.

There were lots of people in jeans and t-shirts. I was really surprised people dressed like then when they knew they were going before a judge.

Reply

Wild Irish Rose June 5, 2015 at 10:54 am

Wow. Judges around here would find them in contempt. Seriously.

Reply

SadieD June 8, 2015 at 9:04 am

When I had to go to court I had people come up to me (repeatedly), interrupt the conversation, and ask me about court procedures, where the washrooms were, etc.. I had no clue, I didn’t work there. But I showered that morning, wore light make-up, a knee-length skirt, and a nice top that covered my boobs, so they assumed I did.

Dirty clothes, club-wear, and short-shorts are not appropriate when you’re in front of a judge. That’s what you wear when you’re looking to make a deal with your lawyer (and bring cookies, everyone likes cookies)

Reply

Ashley June 8, 2015 at 4:13 pm

That blows my mind as well. I have to go to the local courthouse for work sometimes, and I always make a point of dressing nicely when I know I’m going there even if it’s just to drop something off or pick something up. I walk through on trial days and here I am dressed as well as some of the lawyers and stuff while the people who are actually there to have their cases heard look like they just put on whatever was closest to their bed and went straight to court.

Reply

KarenK June 4, 2015 at 9:05 am

I wouldn’t say an inordinate number of people tried to get her to behave. It sounded like mostly it was the OP’s grandmother, the girl’s great great aunt (or is it just great aunt regardless?).

The clothes did not surprise me, nor would it have fazed me. That alone would not consign this young lady to EHell in my opinion. Dress has become increasingly informal at funerals.

Reply

Ashley June 4, 2015 at 11:30 am

Did we read the same story or not? Because from your response, I don’t think we read the same thing at all, because I see LOTS of things in here that are in need of correction.

Literally everything the woman OP is writing about is wrong. It would be out of place at any formalish event. The outfit is wrong, the attempts to take reserved seating is wrong, the texting and updating Facebook is wrong, the attempts to go in front of the casket is wrong, the over dramatics of how “sad” she is just comes across as a cry for attention rather than anything resembling actual grief…need I continue?

Reply

Lacey June 4, 2015 at 12:02 pm

Seriously, thank you. The girl being on her phone was obviously rude and disrespectful, but it’s really the only example of outright rude behaviour I can see. I will never understand why people care SO much about what other people are wearing. Maybe the girl didn’t have anything else that was black to wear, and/or she truly didn’t know the expected dress code, besides black. People aren’t always doing things to or at you. It basically sounds like she just didn’t know what she was supposed to be doing – the grandmother having to stop her from going down to the gravesite early is an example of that. And why couldn’t the “it’s just so sad when people die?” have been sincere? Maybe death and funerals freak her out and she doesn’t deal with them well.

I love this site and care a lot about social etiquette in terms of people actually being rude, entitled, hurtful, steamrolling over people, etc. But focusing on little faux-pas so much is really just a waste of energy.

Reply

Vrinda June 4, 2015 at 1:56 pm

Are tank tops and yoga pants the only option to formal black dress or suit? I don’t think so. Are you another one who doesn’t read? The woman said she hardly knew the grandfather, so her rude behavior cannot be excused as being brought on by grief. The women went out of her way to make a spectacle of herself, and it was not because she was upset at the grandfather’s passing. If you can’t see that, you’re as bad as she is.

Reply

InTheEther June 4, 2015 at 2:49 pm

I think the important point is THE BEREAVED WIDOW OF THE DECEASED felt the need to corral this young woman’s behavior. If I could underline the capitalized words I would. This woman has been married to this man for 20+ years (I’m assuming the OP was an adult at the time of this event) and by all rights should have as much stress and worry lifted from her shoulders as possible so she can concentrate on coming to terms with what has happened.

Instead she was so embarrassed by her grand niece’s behavior that she spent the whole time running after this grown woman and trying to make her behave. You’ll note in the post that there were only 2 occasions when anyone else attempted to corral her behavior, a cousin and the OPs mother, both attempts to get her to put her phone away. If we’re allowed to ask strangers at a theater for that, I think this is an acceptable request from the family of the deceased at his funeral.

Frankly the whole “different people deal with death and grieving in different ways” isn’t an acceptable excuse. I know toddlers who knew how to behave at a funeral better, and it is a very large stretch to call this woman grieving as she had very little contact with the man and openly admitted that she “never really knew him all that well”.

Reply

Ergala June 5, 2015 at 6:30 am

Perhaps I was raised differently but I grew up understanding that a funeral was focused around the deceased and their immediate family. You did nothing to try and put yourself into that focus, whether it be via clothes or behavior. When my husband’s step-grandfather died, at the funeral we stood at the back of the church. The two families are extremely integrated too, but my husband is the step-grandchild. Most of us were at the back, it was a packed church. The only people in front few pews were the widow, my mother-in-law, step-father-in-law, the adult grandchildren and the great grand children. I saw no phones out at all.

At the reception is when I think people behaved poorly. There was limited seating and people decided to save seats. I ended up on the floor with my oldest son in a corner while he had a sandwich. My husband managed to snag two seats for him and our youngest. There were two seats next to him but I was informed by other family members those were reserved for an estranged family member. Oooooookay then. By the time it was over there was no food left over for the bereaved family members. People went up for seconds and thirds before they even got firsts. I was raised that the family went first through the line. You don’t just haul butt to the front of the line.

Graveside seating, my grandmother had a graveside service as did my grandfather. We let the older generation get their seats before my sister and I took ours. I didn’t want to sit in the front row anyways, I didn’t want my tears on display.

Clothing, you dress modestly and respectfully for a wedding unless it is otherwise specified. Some cultures wear bright clothing and wearing black would be a distraction. But in either case you don’t wear a tank top and yoga pants and flip flops. Come on….that is just outright disrespectful. It shows zero effort on the person’s part. Guess what I am wearing right now and I just rolled out of bed, a kitty tank top and black yoga pants.

Reply

Goldie June 5, 2015 at 8:35 am

I kind of lean towards agreeing with you. If her behavior wasn’t all-out in-your-face obnoxious, to the point where it would interfere with others’ grieving, let her be. At my dad’s funeral, my male relatives sat in a row behind me and talked business (most of them are small business owners) for the majority of our time at the funeral home. So what? To me, it was my dad. To them it was a 75 year old distant relative. As long as their talking didn’t bother my mom and my sons, leave them be.

Reply

Ergala June 5, 2015 at 11:12 am

Goldie it bothered the widow considering she spent quite a bit of the time redirecting her it seems. I would be horrified if my actions at a funeral hurt the bereaved family members. The widow shouldn’t have had to remove her from the reserved seating, or from taking a chair from the elderly attendees, or from racing the casket to the graveside…and she even tried to get right behind the hearse in her car. The moment you realize you aren’t being considered part of the close family section you back off and follow the rest of the crowd and hang back. Let the family be front and center and accept that you aren’t with them. She barely knew him by her own admittance in the letter, she had zero business being with family up front. Just because you are related to someone by marriage or even blood does not automatically make you close family. If my father showed up at my funeral he would be seated in the back with everyone else.

Reply

iwadasn June 5, 2015 at 9:58 pm

It’s hard not to be distracted by someone who is deliberately drawing attention to herself at every opportunity. It would be nice if the people sitting next to her could just choose not to be distracted by her texting, but that’s not how perception works. And she had to be escorted so she didn’t take limited graveside seating away from the immediate family.

Reply

JB in KC June 4, 2015 at 7:25 am

Boot. Backside. Some assembly required.

Reply

ia June 5, 2015 at 1:55 am

Not EHell approved course of action, of course, but wonderfully phrased!

Reply

Wild Irish Rose June 5, 2015 at 10:55 am

Admin., we need a “Like” button!

Reply

Callalilly June 4, 2015 at 7:32 am

This story reminds me of an uncle’s funeral a few years back. He had three grandchildren, one who at the time was in his late 20s and in a band. To keep Band Boy afloat his mom and mom’s husband de jour (mom was a model, is still beautiful, and as a hobby gets married a lot) threw — and are probably still throwing — $4,000 a month at him. Yet he knows how to dress and behave at a funeral.

The model’s brother has the other two grandchildren: ‘Anne,’ who’s a solid citizen, did well in college, and now works for a living.

And then there’s ‘Fran.’

She refuses to get a job, because it offends her politics or something similar, and she’ll proudly tell anyone that she’s on food stamps and welfare because of it.

I have zero problem with people who really and truly need this help, but this girl grew up in a fairly affluent family, and no one else is the walking trainwreck that she is.

According to my sister-in-law, it cost the family $300 to clean Fran up to make her presentable for the funeral. During the service, she sat in the pew texting her (also unemployed) boyfriend.

Reply

Snarkastic June 8, 2015 at 1:03 am

I think I might know these people…

Reply

Anonymous June 4, 2015 at 7:33 am

Totally rude. When I go to funerals, I dress appropriately, and try to make the people who are closer to the deceased feel better, if I know them. It’s the principle of “comfort in, dump out.” I also don’t pig out on funeral food–in fact, the last funeral I attended, I didn’t even stay for that part.

Reply

Rose June 4, 2015 at 7:39 am

I was picturing a thirteen year old girl, until the LW stated otherwise. I can’t imagine a woman in her twenties acting like this! How sad that the widow needed to babysit her all day.

Reply

JKC June 4, 2015 at 10:29 am

Yeah, my early assumption was that she was still a teenager. I was thinking she might be 16-17, since she drove herself, until I got to the part that said she’s in her mid-twenties. I don’t understand how you can be an adult for that many years and not realize somewhere along the line that this isn’t acceptable behavior.

Reply

Dominic June 4, 2015 at 7:53 am

I was surprised to learn, later in life, that not all families bring their children to funerals. I grew up Roman Catholic, and the entire family, including young children, went to the visitation, wake, funeral, graveside, and ensuing luncheon. But if you didn’t grow up doing that, maybe you’re not as aware how to behave at a funeral. Not that anyone shouldn’t know to put away the phone in church or graveside, among other things.

For whatever reason, much of what was considered decorous or proper behavior in the past has gone by the wayside for many folks, and not just the “younger generation.” Funerals used to be highly ceremonial and loaded with societal customs and mores. To the extent that new customs (photo walls or slide shows of the deceased, relaxed rules about attire, etc.) make the mourners more comfortable without completely descending into tackiness, they can be good. Yoga pants, even black, not so much. But what people wear to church these days and what my parents allowed in the 70s and 80s are now very different.

Reply

ally June 4, 2015 at 9:49 am

I agree with your second paragraph, but not the first. If it’s true that this person didn’t know how to behave at a funeral because she’s never been to one before, she should have asked what to do, not make up her own rules.

I can’t stand people who do that.

If all that was going on what her being clueless, she should have followed the directions given to get by grandma and OP’s mom. Since she couldn’t see what the big deal was and appears to have resisted every step of the way, I’m throwing her in eHell for being a disrespectful drama llama.

Reply

Dominic June 5, 2015 at 6:48 am

I think you’re right that she was going to do whatever she wanted and was clueless as to why that was wrong. My point in the first paragraph was not to excuse her behavior, or really even to explain it. It was more of a general comment. As mentioned, apart from any customs of funeral-going, anyone should know that playing on your phone during a church service is not appropriate.

Reply

GeenaG June 5, 2015 at 4:09 pm

If she doesn’t know what to wear there is a whole vast internet out there to giver her guidance and information.

Reply

chipmunky June 4, 2015 at 7:54 am

One of my husband’s cousins showed up last year to BIL’s funeral. (Death was very very sudden and unexpected, he was only 27). Everyone, save for some former coworkers of BIL who had just gotten off or were about to go on shift as fellow nurses at the hospital, showed up in suits, ties, jackets, all in dark/subdued colors.

What does the cousin wear?

Why, a slinky, jersey knit black dress, off the shoulder, with sparkly black flip flops. Her hair is in a messy ponytail- not the chic “messy” style seen on young women today, but the “I haven’t bothered to comb my hair in 3 days” look. The make up was also over the top. This woman is in her late 30s, early 40s, and should know better. Her reasoning behind wearing this dress over the dozen other LBDs in her closet? It was her favorite.

I should have expected as much. This is the same woman who showed up at my wedding the month before BIL died wearing a strapless, electric blue cocktail dress hiked right up to THERE with stilettos an exotic dancer would envy. She also added her son to the guest list, ordered him the most expensive meal offered, and then forgot to tell us she’d signed him up for a sports tournament well before the RSVP deadline, so he didn’t show anyway.

Some people.

Reply

Green123 June 4, 2015 at 7:56 am

This young woman’s behaviour was inappropriate, yes, particularly the mobile phone stuff.

However it is not necessary or approrpriate to judge what anyone wears for a funeral (or to a wedding, or to church, etc.) The funeral tradition (in the UK, US, and some other countries) is all-black, but beyond that there’s not a fixed, formal mourning uniform. Who knows, the yoga pants might have been the only black clothes she had and she thought it better to wear those than anything ‘smarter’ but more brightly coloured?

I’m sorry for your loss OP but you and your older relatives seem to have spent more of the funeral huffing and tutting over one insignificant guest rather than actually mouring a sad death. How awful.

Reply

Tracy P June 4, 2015 at 9:53 am

I honestly can’t believe that yoga pants are the only black clothes this woman owned. And she could have worn navy blue or brown or any other somber color. Something to show some respect. I’ve never been to a funeral in my life (I now that I’m very lucky in that) and I know better what to wear.

The OP and others weren’t huffing and tutting over one insignificant guest. They were upset at a woman that was making a spectacle of herself. She tried to get in the front pews. She raced to be the first car after the hearse. She tried to go before the casket. She acted like she was grieving so bad that she couldn’t stand up.

The only problem I have is that almost no one other than the widow tried to get this woman to behave. Seems to me like before she got into her car to follow the hearse or before they went to the grave side, someone could have pulled her aside and set her right. If needed, have one of the men do it even. There are times that intimidation (even though no one would do anything physical) are needed.

Reply

Marozia June 6, 2015 at 3:15 am

The other relatives were probably so gob-smacked, they didn’t know what to do!
Also, was she in so much grief that she had to be first to get back to the luncheon and scoff down
2 plates of food??
Raised by bears?? No way…I think a bear raises their cubs better than that!!!

Reply

LadyV June 4, 2015 at 10:08 am

Sorry, but I’m not buying the “only black clothes she had” excuse. If she has the money to own a phone and a car, she has the money to go to a thrift store and buy dark colored clothing. I don’t wear black, because I’m so fair-skinned that it makes me look like Morticia Addams on a bad day – but I have one very simple black dress that I bought, on sale, specifically for funeral wear.

Reply

Lady Macbeth June 4, 2015 at 4:38 pm

I too am fair skinned but wear black all the time. I would be honored if somebody compared me to Morticia Addams (more specifically the Angelica Houston version) on any day!

As to the story, I think people who might be unfamiliar with any ceremonial (from weddings to funeral and everything in between) customs should simply let the other guests’ behaviors dictate how they act. Then, the overall tone set by the majority or the leading party – be it formal or informal – will guide the less informed on how to behave. Nobody would get ahead of themselves in that instance.

Reply

ally June 8, 2015 at 11:38 am

Pod. If the woman had behaved the whole time, and her only mistake was her attire, I’m sure she wouldn’t have attracted so much attention.

Reply

Ashley June 4, 2015 at 11:33 am

I’m amazed that I’ve now come across two comments acting like what this woman did isn’t a big deal…

Reply

InTheEther June 4, 2015 at 4:13 pm

I think most sensible people would find ‘more colorful than traditional but still dressed up’ the lesser sin against ‘dressed like it’s laundry day’. And generally people get about a week’s or more notice about a funeral, especially if there is travel involved. Surely she could’ve run by a store and picked a black skirt off a sale rack?

Reply

Willynilly June 4, 2015 at 9:40 pm

I have been to at least 3 dozen wakes/funerals/shivas over the course of almost 4 decades [in the US]. I don’t know where the idea “all black” is a required or even expected norm came from, but its certainly not. Dark, subdued and modest is the expected norm. Yes often that means black, but navy, gray, dark brown, maroon, black with a bit of white or colored detail, etc are all pretty standard and wholly appropriate. Much more important to the color is that the clothes visually convey respect to the occasion – nothing flashy, sexy, festive, etc.

The only exception is where the family, or the deceased themselves (prior to passing) have requested particular colors or fashions. For example I once attended a wake for a man who requested as he was dying that mourners honor him by wearing Hawaiian shirts/dresses. Folks who did not have Hawaiian attire, such as myself, generally wore tropical colors. There was a certain charm to seeing everyone in bright colors and made the event feel like a ‘celebration of life’ instead of a mourning event, which I believe had been the intent.

Reply

Mrs.G June 5, 2015 at 6:26 am

When my grandmother passed from breast cancer complications, every lady in the family wore a pink shirt with black slacks or skirt to her funeral. It helped the occasion from being too somber as we remembered the special lady who had touched so many lives.

Having said that, I believe that if the young lady were truly unsure about the dress code (or cared) she would have asked somebody before the funeral and either would have purchased or borrowed appropriate clothes. I lived 4 hours away from home when my grandmother died. I didn’t know about the pink top/black bottom dress code until I got home, and my mother and sister took me shopping since I didn’t have a pink top. I’m not saying that maybe LW isn’t overreacting a little bit. However, I do think that the young woman could have handled the situation a lot better.

Reply

psammead June 5, 2015 at 2:05 pm

The idea that you not only wore all black to a funeral, but continued to wear all-black ~everything for a set period of time (usually a year) has been around for a long time and got an extra impetus from Queen Victoria–after the death of Prince Albert, she wore black to the end of her days. In those days people even wore mourning jewelry–made either of jet, or of the deceased person’s hair. After a year most people switched to “half-mourning”–wearing white, gray and lavender or dark purple in addition to black; children were usually put in half-mourning to begin with, because even then, many people thought it terrible to make children wear black. But that was the Victorian era; “dark, subdued and modest” has been the norm for funerals for decades now.

Reply

EchoGirl June 5, 2015 at 11:40 pm

I think this can be extended to things that weren’t specifically requested but that the mourners think are appropriate to honor the memory of the deceased (i.e. kids wearing clothes that a deceased grandparent bought them, friends who know the deceased loved red all wearing red), but there’s a big difference between a deliberate choice to honor someone, even if it’s untraditional, and just showing up in whatever.

Reply

AthenaC June 4, 2015 at 8:37 am

At least she didn’t wear something truly offensive like a modest, knee-length black dress with cap sleeves and a hat with a veil.

(Side note: where’s the sarcasm font?)

Reply

Renee June 4, 2015 at 10:11 am

Oh no you didn’t….

Reply

AnaMaria June 4, 2015 at 11:53 am

Oh yes she did! Glad I wasn’t the only one thinking this!!

Reply

MamaToreen June 4, 2015 at 12:50 pm

The only reason she didn;t was she had loaned it to me. 😉

Reply

ColoradoCloudy June 4, 2015 at 1:15 pm

You went there!

Reply

Goldie June 5, 2015 at 2:26 pm

Ha! You’re good. I’d completely forgotten that one.

Reply

Margo June 4, 2015 at 8:49 am

I would be inclined to give her a pass on the way she was dressed – if she is young, she may never have been to a funeral before and may have assumed that ‘all black’ was the most important criteria.
Also, churches vary a lot in what is considered appropriate, and how much importance is attached to it.

Similarly, sitting at the front – she may have assumed that as she was a family member, that was appropriate. (If the family is large, and not close, she may not have realised what a high proportion of the congregation were also family, or what their relationships were. Were there markers or signs on the pews or was it just one of those things that ‘everybody knows’ (except when they don’t) It sounds as though she moved promptly when your grandmother asked her to.

Updating her phone was rude and inappropriate. It was rude of her to ‘scoff’ if asked politely not to do so, but at the same time, it’s not really appropriate for your cousin or mother to tell her what she, as another adult, should do. I can’t help but wonder what words and tone where used in speaking to her.

I wonder whether she went direct to the meal because she didn’t feel welcome to stay and make conversation?

Reply

Wild Irish Rose June 4, 2015 at 9:03 am

“I wonder whether she went direct to the meal because she didn’t feel welcome to stay and make conversation?”

Then she should have gone home. By that time, people were already tired of watching her act like she had no clue. Youth doesn’t excuse inappropriate dress or behavior; Google makes it entirely too easy to learn how to behave at an event you’ve never had occasion to attend before.

Reply

ally June 4, 2015 at 9:54 am

Exactly. I’m a “young person” this woman’s age, I’ve never been to a funeral, but I still know how to behave. How? Stories from other people, Internet advice, and seeing funerals on TV. How can someone so glued to their phone not even think to google “what to wear to a funeral?”

Reply

Wild Irish Rose June 4, 2015 at 10:50 am

I’m surprised there’s not (yet) a reality show devoted to this. We have a plethora of shows about what to wear and what not to wear; perhaps someone should take up this cause.

Reply

violinp June 4, 2015 at 11:50 am

I am in my mid – twenties. Since I’ve become an adult, I’ve gone to at least 6 funerals, and I’ve been to at least 10 in my life. Ever since I was 8, and went to my first funeral service, I knew what was expected of me vis a vis attire and etiquette. There is no excuse for a grown woman to dress that way at a funeral. Honestly, I wouldn’t even care if the person was dressed in colors, so long as the color wasn’t loud and distracting. My mom wore a brown tweed suit to my grandma’s (her MiL’s) funeral, and no one batted an eye.

There is no excuse for the poor attire and even poorer attitude the whole time.

Reply

Ernie June 4, 2015 at 5:44 pm

I didn’t attend a funeral until I was in my mid twenties, and knew to wear a suit. In fact, I think I knew pretty soon after I started dressing myself as a little kid basically what is and isn’t appropriate for certain things.

So do people like this go to job interviews in bikinis? Maybe wear a wrestling singlet to weddings? Whenever I see someone seriously underdressed, I always wonder if they don’t have a single person in their life to tell them “Hey ditch the tube top and put on a sweater before a funeral, you look like a goofball”.

Reply

Cami June 8, 2015 at 10:43 am

You’d be amazed at how people dress for interviews! I’ve sent more than my fair share of applicants home 30 seconds after they walk in the door because they are dressed for a day at the beach or a night out clubbing rather than an entry level job in an office environment. They are usually protesting, “Well, I don’t want to work at a place that dictates the way I dress.” I usually see them later…wearing a uniform of some local fast food place.

another Laura June 5, 2015 at 8:18 am

As someone pointed out earlier that it’s appropriate to tell an adult not to use their phone in a movie theater(or other public performance) it should be as least as acceptable to tell one not to use one during a funeral.

And even if she went straight to the meal because she felt unwelcome, she could still have waited to stuff her face until the others arrived. It is common at funeral meals for the immediate family to go first, and it would be quite a stretch to call “great niece by marriage” close. What she did is roughly equivalent to going to a wedding reception and helping yourself to food and wedding cake while the bridal party are doing the after ceremony photoshoot.

Reply

Laura payne June 4, 2015 at 9:00 am

It sounds like she truly didn’t know any better.

Reply

ally June 4, 2015 at 9:57 am

Then she should have followed the very obvious instructions from everyone at the funeral. Put the phone down. Let the old people have the few chairs (which should be common sense anyway but I guess this girl doesn’t have that). Don’t start grabbing food until you’ve been invited to (another supposedly obvious ‘rule’).

If she didn’t know what to do, she should have just followed along with whatever the crowd was doing. I don’t think she was clueless.

Reply

Ashley June 4, 2015 at 11:35 am

Even if she had literally never been to a funeral before, she could have taken a look at how everyone else was dressed/behaving, and gotten a clue real quick.

Reply

JeanLouiseFinch June 4, 2015 at 9:20 am

I think the phone stuff and having to actually be told to cede her seat to people in their 80’s was the worst. This reminds me of a friend’s funeral I attended several years ago, where a cousin of the deceased attended and her phone rang throughout most of the service. This would have bothered me enough, but the cousin was ultra-orthodox Jewish and it showed that she obviously had no respect for the more reform Judaism practiced by my friend and his family. I would think that respect for being in someone’s house of worship should preclude you from being on the phone no matter what the ceremony.

Reply

Devin June 4, 2015 at 9:28 am

The dress code, I wouldn’t get too upset about. At my grandmother’s funeral, I wore a lavender dress. I had originally packed a grey dress, but while dressing realized there was a very obvious stain in the rear end. Since I was 2 states from home, and less than an hour before the service, I had to make due with what I had packed. I felt very conspicuous in such a bright color, but the service was quite casual, and my grandmother always loved me in bright colors. My mother ended up wearing a lighter colored suit as it was summer, and my father/brother wore colorful ties with their suits.
During the receiving line, I received many complements on my (and our) appearance and that many people were happy to see some cheerful colors at her funeral. I’m also from a very blue collar farm community, so most of her friends and relatives were in their nicest jeans and a fresh pressed shirt because they hadn’t owned a suit since they were married.
As far as texting goes, phones shouldn’t even be brought into a church or graveside. Exceptions for doctors on call, etc.

Reply

Inkcap June 4, 2015 at 9:38 am

When attending a funeral (or other ceremony) at a church with unfamiliar customs, one can always call the church secretary, who will be glad to clarify possible dress code questions. There’s also the option of asking one of the family members. It really does seem as if the girl in this case was clueless, though her level of culpability is open to question.

Reply

Margo June 8, 2015 at 6:28 am

True, but hat assumes that you realise that you don’t know, or that what you think you know may be wrong. And that you have the common sense and general knowledge to think about who can tell you, and the gumption to phone and ask.

I have learned, though dealing with members of the public, that an awful lot of people don’t have those attributes and don’t think things through in that way.

You wouldn’t think it would necessary to tell people going to court about dressing appropriately, or that irt is a good idea to show up on time (at the latest) but I have learned that for an awful lof of people, it is necessary.

I do’t defend how this woman acted, but I can see that, other than her use of her phone, and how she reacted to those who intervened, the rest of her behaviour may well come down to ignorance rather than deliberate bad manners. (or, to put is another way “never ascribe to malice what can be explained by stupidity”)

Reply

LadyV June 4, 2015 at 10:14 am

This, in some ways, connects with the whole “Missy” story. Why would someone who is not close to the deceased even come to a funeral? Considering her behavior following the funeral, it sounds like another “Oh boy, free food” situation. (Although some blame for that needs to be laid at the feet of whoever was supervising the luncheon – they should have told the woman that she needed to wait until other people showed up to eat.)

As far as her clothing – it seems that nowadays, the requirement for all mourners to wear black no longer exists. Usually the close family wears black, but others wear subdued clothing. I’ve gone to funerals directly from work to be supportive of co-workers, friends, etc., and have worn dark colored, plain clothing, as did many other people. I’m sure this woman owned SOMETHING dark colored.

Reply

Lucretia June 4, 2015 at 12:35 pm

I didn’t wear black to my own father’s funeral- he wouldn’t have wanted me to. I did wear black to a cousin’s funeral- but that was because it was July and I only had one dress that was both dark, and had sleeves. I like bright colors, and tend to wear them quite a bit- I was dismayed to find that all my other dresses were bright, or had very bright patterns, and felt awkward about wearing black when it was a cousin I wasn’t very close to. I just didn’t have much of a choice- it would have been that or the yoga pants! I was also 23 when this cousin died a few years ago, so it’s not like I can’t sympathize with this lady. I’m not so worried about the clothes since I had to improvise myself (although in my defense, it WAS a dress I had), but she knew better than to text in church during a service. That would have bothered and distracted others, even if she had the sound off. The food stuff is socially awkward, and the drama at the graveside sounds like just that- drama. She was rude, but don’t let it bother you forever, OP. Maybe your Grandpa would have thought it was funny? Instead of worrying about this person being disrespectful (she was) you could maybe laugh it off as a joke, small, and ultimately harmless?

Reply

The Elf June 4, 2015 at 1:23 pm

Even something pastel would have been fine had it been dressy without being festive. I consider it like this – if you’d wear it to court or a job interview, you could wear it to a funeral.

Reply

Anonymous June 5, 2015 at 2:56 pm

It’s funny that you’d mention job interviews, because I actually teach yoga, so for me, yoga pants ARE appropriate clothing for job interviews.

Reply

The Elf June 4, 2015 at 1:24 pm

I’ve attended a few funerals (or viewings) where I was not close to the deceased – in one case I had never met the person. But I was close to the family of the deceased and wanted to offer my sympathy and support.

Reply

keloe June 5, 2015 at 4:40 am

I have been to funerals where I have barely known the deceased, or even never met him or her. They were close family of people I knew and cared about and I went to express my sympathy and support. In my country it is usual, for example for one or two co-workers to show up at a funeral of another co-worker’s closed relative, to represent the employer.

The rules for funeral attire are relaxed now (speaking of my county again – Central Europe) – just the immediate family wear all black, the rest is fine with something subdued. But I can’t image anyone showing up at a funeral in yoga pants and a tank top. I really can’t. And I would be absolutely appalled seeing someone constantly on their phone during any type of service, be it funeral, wedding or just a regular Sunday mass. I would probably not say anything, because I never correct adult people’s behaviour (as long as the phone was on silent), but I would consider it enormous disrespect with no mitigating circumstances.

Reply

Anonymouse June 5, 2015 at 9:12 pm

That was actually something that really bothered my hubby at my late uncle’s funeral. Even though he knew I come from a large family, he wasn’t expecting that many to come (there were about 100 family members in attendance)… In his experience, funerals are for immediate family and close friends, and those who aren’t close should leave the bereaved be.

Of course, there are other schools of thought– those who want to support the grievers, those who were close once, those who are grieving despite not being close friends/family with the deceased, and those (I assume this girl is one) who feel obligated to go, but don’t really want to.

Reply

Cat June 4, 2015 at 10:30 am

My generation grew up with the hat and gloves at church, eat your fried chicken with a fork, and ask to be excused from the table manners of our generation. Things have changed, not always to my liking, but I doubt the Victorians would approve of my behavior either.
This young woman sounds as if her parents just did not bother to give her basic rules of etiquette. I would never have taken a chair if an older person or a lady with child was standing. If she had never been to a church, she may have been totally clueless as to what was going on.
If Grandmother was able to guide her towards more appropriate behavior without making a scene, I can understand her wanting her younger relation to appear in a good light. If I take a non-Catholic to mass with me, I brief them on things so they will know what is happening. My SIL fell over me because I forgot to tell her about genuflection. There is nothing like lying sprawled in the aisle at Midnight Christmas Mass to call attention to one.

Reply

Comradde PhysioProffe June 4, 2015 at 10:35 am

I agree that the (in my opinion) undue attention paid to this arguably clueless and self-absorbed relative by some of the other mourners was likely influenced by their grief: it is a lot easier to direct your negative emotional energy outwards towards a funeral etiquette transgressor than it is to inwardly confront your grief. My opinion is that it was doubly unfortunate for those mourners: not only did someone they love die, but they indulged themselves in a defense mechanism that prevented them from confronting their grief in an open and honest and direct way.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should add that my opinions about issues of etiquette in the context of grief are colored by my own experiences with my own mother, who has always been grossly intrusive in and judgmental of how I (and others) grieve (particularly the death of my maternal grandfather). So this is a sensitive issue for me, and my inclination is to be super non-judgmental about how others grieve.

And sorry to be so long-winded, but I would like to also add that anything this young woman may have said about how sad she is or whether she is grieving that was overheard by others tells us very little about how she actually feels. People say all kinds of incompletely true things to others about how they feel for all kinds of reasons, for example, “keeping a stiff upper lip”.

And it really bugged me a lot that the LW felt like it was his or her place to judge both how close this other relative felt to the deceased, and what manner and level of grief she was entitled to. The LW did say that the two sides of the family–connected by grandma and grandpa–never spent time with grandma and grandpa at the same time, so how does LW have any idea how much time this relative from the other side spent with grandpa and how close she felt to him? I got the overall sense from the letter that the LW is overly judgmental and jumps to conclusions about how other people are supposed to feel and behave, beyond just the specific criticisms of this other relative’s behavior at the funeral.

Reply

Ergala June 5, 2015 at 7:22 am

I think her behavior at the funeral kind of speaks volumes. Plus the fact she heard the young woman say she barely knew him. Direct from the letter: “I overheard her later on when the luncheon was almost over. “Oh, no, I never really knew him all that well, but it’s so sad when people die, you know?”’

Reply

JD June 4, 2015 at 10:44 am

So are some excusing niece’s behavior because she’s “youthful” and then blaming OP’s family because they are correcting “an adult?” Which is she? A youth or adult?
I’m solidly behind OP. Niece is part of a very large family, OP said – so I would assume, although I could be wrong, that this wasn’t her first funeral in that whole large family. She surely could have asked anyone else in said large family what to wear if she didn’t know; she wouldn’t even have to Google it, although she could have easily. Niece stated openly that she wasn’t close to the deceased, and showed it. To a grieving family, who is trying to get through a rough day as best they can, these small gaffes can loom very large. Texting during any service is wrong, and she knew it. I’ll bet she goes other places where she is told “phone’s off,” as well, why would she think a funeral service was okay? Getting a second plate at the buffet before anyone else gets their first is wrong in every circumstance. And, as LadyV said, I’m betting the girl had a dark outfit of some kind in her closet. If not, it’s easy to borrow or get one at the thrift store. My daughter and I both wore borrowed clothes at my own parents’ funeral. We neither of us owned black and friends gladly helped us out. The niece is rude, and I hope OP has a big shot of valium handy when she has to face this person at the next funeral. She’ll probably need it.

Reply

CJ June 4, 2015 at 10:45 am

The clothing part is excusable. Manners dictate not commenting on anyone’s wardrobe. The phone part is not excusable. Also in my early 20″s I was so broke I could not afford anything dressy to wear to funerals so I wore what I had in black. Black jeans and a black t shit to some. I wonder how many people talked about me at my father in laws memorial service. I wore a teal and brown very short dress, it was his favorite dress I owned. For the military service I did wear a more modest outfit, but refused an all black outfit. Clothing choices are not anyone’s business but the person wearing them. It also seems like this family enjoys the scandal and the gossip. Besides being on the phone I see nothing worth wasting breath on.

Reply

Tracy P June 5, 2015 at 5:46 am

You also couldn’t find a friend or family member that you could have borrowed something nicer to wear?

Reply

ktb June 5, 2015 at 8:08 am

How unkind. It is not an option for everyone.

Reply

CJ June 5, 2015 at 10:32 am

Yes, when you made $4.25 an hour and have no family and all your friends are a size 12 while you are a size 2 it does make it hard to buy OR borrow anything. I am lucky that in my circle we appreciate the presence of an individual, not what they are wearing. Same with my wedding. People came in jeans and cowboy boots. I would rather have them present then have them miss an event due to finances or be snarky about their clothing choice.

Reply

Willynilly June 5, 2015 at 5:24 pm

I think so long as it was a clean, unwrinkled t-shirt and again clean, good-repair (even if a bit faded) jeans, the attire is fine. If its the best you have, it’s the best you have.

The girl in the OP made a series of social blunders. Alone the outfit would have been not great but probably forgotten. And really in my opinion, what made the girls outfit so bad was the amount f skin and body shape it showed, not its actual casualness. Jeans and t-shirt might not be fancy, but they are modest. A tank and yoga pants (usually quite form fitting) are not modest.

Reply

JanG June 4, 2015 at 10:47 am

This takes me back to when my Father died. His second wife’s (I refuse to call her anything else for many reasons) extended family showed up at the funeral home dressed in loud shirts, tee shirts, old jeans. Dad always said that a man should have at least one suit for funerals or weddings so I thought this ironic. When it came time for the short prayer service during the evening viewing, they pushed my sister and me aside to grab the seats in the front row. The Funeral Home owners were old family friends so they came over and made them move. But it was the last straw for my sister. Second wife had already assured her that she would take care of the flowers and neglected to have one from us, his daughters. She is a greedy,controlling woman and that is the last time either of us had any contact with her. I realize funerals are a stressful but common courtesy and common sense should come through.

Reply

PJ June 4, 2015 at 11:28 am

Maybe we can excuse her workout wear because she’s never been to a funeral when she was old enough to be in control of her wardrobe. Maybe we can excuse her sitting in the front row because she’s never been to a funeral or a wedding when she was old enough to realize that the front row(s) are reserved. Why she would want the front row if she’s just going to facebook and text the entire time is a mystery. Maybe we can excuse that because she’s never been to a place of worship.

After the funeral, maybe we can excuse her racing to the front of the driving procession because she was afraid of getting lost? Or excuse her going ahead of the pallbearers’ procession to the grave because, even though she knew where to go on her own, she was too inexperienced with funerals… I don’t know.

At the gravesite she attempted to take one of the few seats. Her production of overwhelming grief (for someone she later said she really didn’t know that well) shows that she knew she shouldn’t take a seat but was trying to guilt others into letting her sit anyway. Can we excuse that because maybe she hasn’t been around many elderly people?

Racing back to the church to be first in line for food: maybe she didn’t know that others would linger? and that she should let the widow get food first? more funeral inexperience there, although she knew enough about the funeral to know that she’d be fed.

In all of this, if she really was so inexperienced and isolated from the rest of the world for her 20+ years, she could have still taken her cues from her grandmother’s correction and from following the behavior of everyone else attending. She didn’t… can we excuse that because she’s never done anything… umm… hmmm… I’m struggling to come up with more excuses.

It is sad that the just-widowed grandmother had to tend to this girl. I think someone from that side of the family should have stepped up. I have to wonder if they wanted to distance themselves from her because they were no happier with her behavior than the LW.

Reply

Ashley June 4, 2015 at 11:39 am

I’m amazed that there are any comments defending this woman’s actions, in this day and age, saying things like “maybe she’s never been to a funeral before” or “maybe she didn’t know any better”.

That’s not a good excuse. The internet is full of information, she could have googled what to wear and picked an outfit that wasn’t something you would wear to the gym. Then, once she was at the funeral, simply observing everyone else there could have told her how to act and that faffing around on her phone was not appropriate. NONE of this would have been difficult to find out through basic common sense and decency.

Reply

Ernie June 4, 2015 at 5:59 pm

Me too. I feel like I learned all these lessons by the time I was about 7, just by watching TV.

Where’s the common sense? I’ve never been to, say, a Korean wedding, but I would never just assume that it would be ok to wear shorts, flip flops, and a tank top to it.

Reply

NostalgicGal June 4, 2015 at 12:06 pm

This type of stuff is getting more and more common. Officiating at funerals, it’s not my show. I’m part of what the IMMEDIATE FAMILY wants, and I will give advice if it is wanted–including dress code.

However, I do wish I could afford a portable jammer to set up, so that in a radius the electronic gadgets won’t get a signal. I remember when Iraq got paved and their country is in ruins and many are starving–for aid they requested cellphone jammers for the mosques. I’m beginning to understand why considering some of what I’ve seen, heard, and read (especially on here). (I still think it was massively a bad one to request jammers ahead of food, but at least I’m understanding the why, maybe).

I can turn my toy off and leave it lie, I can walk away from it. There was a world and a society before our toys, and we can function without them, even briefly. I use mine a lot, especially with our weather, to keep track of what’s bearing down on us; but. It’s a tool or reference, and it certainly isn’t my only meaning for life or my entire social and entertainment. Out here there’s people, and things to do, and I rather prefer that to the small screen. Any time.

As for this mourner’s “Me First And Foremost” attitude, some just truly don’t get it, on how to dress, act, or behave. Even if you’ve not been to a funeral as a child or an adult, and this is your first one, you generally act DEMURE. Throttle it back. The funeral is about the one that is gone, and those that are left behind remembering the DECEASED. Not the free floorshow trainwreck. This is nobody’s free 15 minutes of fame. Infamy, yes.

I feel for the OP, as yes, when the grandmother goes at least everyone’s been warned, about what will be warmed up in the wings. (shakes head)

Reply

klb4n6 June 8, 2015 at 1:30 pm

I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said, but I wanted to point out that the request for cell phone jammers in Iraq likely had more to do with blocking signals sent to cell phones to set off bombs rather than keeping the worshipers from being on their phones during the services.

Reply

kingsrings June 4, 2015 at 12:44 pm

I’ve heard of this most peculiar breed of funeral attendees before. One, they make a big display of inappropriate crying, dramatics, and standing or sitting where they don’t belong (for example, sitting in the immediate family section). And two, they’re there out of boredom and for the free food and drink. Why – do they have a desperate need for attention and comfort? It’s something to do, and they get a free meal out of it! That description perfectly fits this great-grand niece. There were a few similar at my grandpa’s funeral, although not as bad as this gal. They sat in the very back in their finest apparel and were also at the meal reception. None of us recognized them, and they mostly kept to themselves. This took place in a very small town, so we figured that they were just church members who were looking for something to do that day, lol.

Reply

nannerdoman June 4, 2015 at 12:50 pm

I don’t understand how anyone can think that playing games and texting on your phone during a worship service is acceptable behavior.

Reply

Goldie June 5, 2015 at 2:30 pm

Agree. When my son was 12 or 13, a girl we knew through a family we were friends with, suddenly developed a crush on him. She sent him several hundred texts a day for a while. One day he got a text from her that said “I am at my uncle’s funeral”. He was 12, he’d never been to a funeral, and he was horrified! He texted her back saying “why are you texting at a funeral? turn your phone off” and stopped answering after that. It’s not that hard.

Reply

GeenaG June 4, 2015 at 12:54 pm

It’s really regretful that no one affiliated with the church asked her to leave because I do believe that people like this need to just be shown the door, they’re just not worth dealing with. I know people don’t like the phrase “feral children” yet it seems that that is what this young woman was raised as. No manners, no breeding, no refinement, no class, no south, her parents have taught her no social graces whatsoever.

Reply

MeganAmy June 12, 2015 at 3:00 am

I agree. I generally really avoid confrontation and let a lot of things slide but if I’d been close to the deceased and I saw someone on their phone during a funeral, like OP’s mother did, I would kindly ask them to put their device away. If, like this woman, they waved me off and indicated that I needed to get lost, I might actually take their phone and carry it outside hoping they’d follow. And I’d tell them they’re not welcome back inside.

Reply

Angel June 4, 2015 at 1:10 pm

I have not been to many funerals in my life, fortunately. But as much as we are grieving the loss of a loved one, it can be difficult not to notice the other people who are there to pay their respects. And I’m sorry, but a chick in black yoga pants and tank top, with flip flops, at a funeral, in my family, would stick out like a sore thumb. IMO a black dress is something that all ladies should have–a simple, modest black dress. I have one in my closet–my daughters do not have one but, in their defense they are 7 and 9. At this stage in life a funeral is not a place for them. But I digress.

The OP was mourning the loss of her grandfather. It is difficult not to feel hurt when someone who is not even that close to the deceased, shows up and makes a spectacle of herself. It adds to the hurt and the pain that the close family and friends are already going through. I am so sorry that this happened on what is supposed to be a somber and respectful occasion. People who are there to “pay their respects” ought to at least behave respectfully. Very sad when they decide to do otherwise.

Reply

Lady Anne June 6, 2015 at 9:24 pm

Actually, a child can wear white to a funeral, up to the age of puberty, so your daughters don’t need one yet.

Funeral clothing doesn’t need to be black – the widow of a high school friend wore dark brown with light blue piping. He was a non-compliant diabetic, so she had plenty of time to select what she thought was appropriate. My sister’s favorite color was purple and almost everybody who attended her funeral wore something that color – a scarf, a dress, a hanky pinned to a sleeve; her husband and sons wore purple neckties. However, no flip-flops (in church?!) or tank tops. Dear heaven.

The business with the cell phone reminds me of a commercial about cell-phone etiquette, which takes place in a cemetery. Every one checks their phones and puts them away except one bozo. His phone rings, and while the minister is speaking, he says “Yeah? Nah, I’m not busy”, and proceeds with his conversation. A squirrel drops out of a tree and lands on his head, tumbling him off his chair and into the open grave, where the casket s-l-o-w-l-y comes down in top of him. Shame those things don’t happen in real life.

I agree with those who think the drama llama was just out to call attention to herself. Maybe, maybe, she thought she was being nice by showing up for the funeral but she got off on the wrong foot – and stayed there.

Reply

Angel June 9, 2015 at 6:19 am

I was much more appalled by the girl’s behavior than her attire–but I was remarking that in many social circles, that kind of attire–at a funeral no less, could stick out negatively and draw further attention to herself.

I pray that I never have to make the decision whether or not to bring my daughters to a funeral–especially at their young ages. My youngest is extremely sensitive in general and I afraid it would really freak her out. We had a gerbil for a couple years and when he died both kids were extremely upset. So it’s not like I don’t want to teach them about death or anything like that, it’s that I think that at their ages they may not be able to handle the funeral of a close relative. They are both very close to all their grandparents.

Reply

Jess June 7, 2015 at 5:20 am

I attended my grandpa’s funeral aged 9, and I am forever grateful I did. Do I remember much about it? No, but the fact that my mother (maternal grandpa) thought I would want to have a last send off so to speak was important.

I was in my best dress at the time – a brown and white dress that I wore at my grandparents 50th anniversary celebrations.

Reply

Angel June 9, 2015 at 6:25 am

The fact that you were able to handle a funeral at age 9 definitely speaks to your maturity at that age. But it certainly isn’t for every kid. If the grandparent and the child have a relationship where they are sleeping over there every other weekend, then one day the grandparent is gone, it can be extremely painful for the kid to go to a funeral for that grandparent. And they may not even fully understand everything. It is a tough decision for both the kid and the parent to make. The kid may be perfectly fine but they may not.

Reply

ColoradoCloudy June 4, 2015 at 1:19 pm

Bad manners aren’t dependent on age. Funerals make people crazy. Some people are drama queens that love to have the attention on them, even at other people’s memorial services or weddings. All of that is true, but it doesn’t make it any easier to bear, when someone, whether 18, 25, 40 or 55 is acting inappropriately at your event.

Reply

Rebecca June 4, 2015 at 2:12 pm

I think I could have overlooked the flip-flops and yoga pants and chalked it up to somewhat clueless if the rest of her behaviour had been respectful. The phone? I am starting to wonder if maybe some people don’t remember a time when you were actually expected to pay attention to something. I guess education needs to start young, ie teach kids that there are times you need to put your phone away. And she sounds like one of those people who enjoys funerals, grotesque as that sounds. I think it makes them feel important. There was one of those at one of my family member’s memorial service. This woman in the community, who had never met her but had done some work (watering plants while the house was empty is about it) for the family following her death, was one of the first to show up and the last to leave. I think she just liked the mingling, the food, and feeling important. We didn’t really mind her presence but when it was just family left, my sister had to ask her to go.

As for clothing, when I was a teenager a friend was killed in a car accident. Her friends decided to wear all bright colouring to reflect that she was young, and felt that that was what she would have wanted us to do. Her parents didn’t mind. I think they were just glad to see the outpouring of support. They had to have been too grief-stricken to worry about us not wearing black.

Reply

Amanda H. June 4, 2015 at 7:25 pm

This. Of all the young woman’s breaches of etiquette in the OP’s post, the clothing is probably the least and easiest to forgive, if it weren’t for all the rest snowballing on top of it.

Reply

Twik June 4, 2015 at 2:22 pm

I’m sure it was upsetting, but this is how many young (and sometimes older) people view things – what you wear doesn’t matter, as long as you are “comfortable”. Probably this is what the teens right now being applauded for “standing up for themselves against school dress codes” will consider standard funeral garb in 10-20 years.

It’s quite possible that she decided not to wear something more appropriate from her wardrobe, because she thought the colour was the important thing. And I’m not going to get horribly upset at someone who, as a direct descendant of the deceased, didn’t realize which pew she was supposed to sit in, as long as she didn’t make a scene when moved elsewhere. Spending funeral time on her phone is tacky, but again, I have a feeling that this woman was actually trying, she just had no idea how to behave at funerals (or possibly any other formal event).

Reply

another Laura June 5, 2015 at 8:39 am

She is not a direct descendant of the deceased. She is his wife’s great-grand niece (ie. wife’s sibling’s grandchild). And she told someone after the funeral that she didn’t even know the deceased very well.

Reply

lakey June 4, 2015 at 3:08 pm

As a Catholic, I feel the outfit was in poor taste, but I would ignore it. Different people have different views about appropriate dress, and I have learned to let it go. What would bother me much more is the using the phone in church. This is considered extremely disrespectful, to the point where I’ve never seen a phone used like this at a Catholic Mass, much less a funeral. I would assume that the same holds true for other churches.

Reply

Livvy17 June 4, 2015 at 3:51 pm

In some ways, it’s becoming harder to excuse people for ignorance…all they have to do is to Google, “what should I wear to a funeral?”

I’m more curious as to WHY this woman went to the funeral. She didn’t seem to feel anything for the deceased….there for a free meal?

Reply

JO June 4, 2015 at 5:09 pm

I’m sorry for your loss, OP.
It sounds like this young woman is quite immature, and has a desperate need for attention. How sad for her, and how unfortunate that the widow had to corral her!
This post brought to mind a funeral I attended recently. Thankfully everyone behaved themselves, and while there were a few wardrobe choices I would call “questionable” none were blatantly innapropriate. However, I noticed several people who brought sympathy cards to the funeral. Not to the reception (which I personally wouldn’t do anyway) but to the actual funeral service and handed them to the grieving widower as he stood next to his wife’s casket. Is this customary? I don’t think it would ever have occurred to me to do such a thing, but maybe customs are different elsewhere?

Reply

Snarkastic June 8, 2015 at 1:32 am

That’s a new one for me, too. I generally only send a sympathy card if I cannot attend a service.

Reply

Yarnspinner June 4, 2015 at 5:50 pm

It was a wedding, not a funeral, but how would the people excusing this woman feel about this situation?

The grooms’ family and friends all arrived attired in clothing that was neither garish or inappropriate or waaaay too casual. The bride’s parents arrived dressed the same way.

The bride’s friends and younger (late teens, early twenties) relatives arrived in blue jean cut offs, sarongs over bathing suits, hair in curlers, and one memorable young woman was wearing a pair of dungarees sans T-shirt or brassiere. They talked, chewed gum and giggled throughout the ceremony (which was exacerbated because the bride chose to wear a garter that played “The Stripper” during the vows). Most of the adult guests were pretty upset and the groom’s parents apologized to their guests.

Here’s where it get’s irritating: the reception was held almost five hours after the wedding. And we found out that it was to give the bride’s friends time to go home and get dressed up to the nines for the reception. At the reception they were all dressed to the nines, the boys (previously in sleeveless tees and torn jeans) were in sharp suits, the girls were in beautiful dresses, hair and make up done.

Apparently the reception was much more important than the marriage ceremony and therefore more respect was given to that. I found it horribly rude and I was in my twenties at the time.

Reply

another Laura June 5, 2015 at 8:42 am

Did you just say that a young woman showed up completely TOPLESS to a wedding?!?!?

Reply

Yarnspinner June 5, 2015 at 10:17 am

Oh my gosh, no– not completely. Sorry, I got carried away with my “writing” skillz! She was wearing bib overalls that weren’t quite high enough on the sides and showed off the curve of a braless b**b.
We’re going back over thirty years and that sight was pretty shocking.

Reply

another Laura June 5, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Whew! I’m slightly relieved. I always thought dungarees were just jeans, but I could be wrong. Still *totally* inappropriate for a wedding, or anything involving being seen by people other than SO.

Reply

Wild Irish Rose June 5, 2015 at 11:01 am

This reminds me of a story Erma Bombeck wrote about attending the wedding of a teenage bride who wore hair curlers at her own wedding. When asked why, the bride replied, “We might go somewhere afterward.”

Reply

Sally June 4, 2015 at 6:12 pm

I’m not excusing any of her behavior, which I find pretty ugly.

I would like to respond to the comments about why she would go to a funeral when she wasn’t close to the deceased. I suppose folks aren’t thinking about the case where you go to the funeral because you’re close to one of the primary mourners but not the deceased themselves. Such as when I go to a funeral for a dear friend who’s lost a parent (that I’ve never met).

Reply

KarenK June 5, 2015 at 9:06 am

I could understand her going if it was to support her great aunt, but apparently this was not the case. The widow received no support whatsoever, and in fact was forced to attempt to get her to behave.

Lots of people go to funerals who do not necessarily know the deceased. A bunch of my co-workers attended my mother’s memorial service, and none of them had met her at all. They were there for me, and I really appreciated the effort (some drove back from a conference in Boston, and then returned afterward).

Reply

BagLady June 4, 2015 at 9:08 pm

Black at a funeral is not the universal norm that it was 50 years ago, at least not in the circles I travel in. I’ve been to many funerals/memorials where the family wanted people in bright colors, or the deceased’s favorite color, or “anything but black.”

In most cases in my experience, when a dress code is not specified, tasteful and church-appropriate, whether or not the service is in a church, takes precedence over color, so a tan suit or businesslike print dress would be preferable to a slinky black dress or a black yoga-pants-and-tank top ensemble.

It sounds as if this young woman’s attire was just the icing on a cake of inappropriate behavior — insinuating herself into immediate family pews and graveside seating reserved for older and closer family members, playing on her phone during the service, rushing to the luncheon and scooping up food before anyone else arrived, all the while admitting she wasn’t even that close to the deceased. Even if she had dressed appropriately, that behavior would still earn her an express ticket to E-Hell.

Funerals are not for the deceased. They are for the living — specifically the widow/widower and/or others closest to the deceased. The first rule of funeral behavior is to respect those people’s feelings and wishes. Unless otherwise specified, that means dress conservatively and take your cues from the close mourners. It’s not your show.

Reply

FunkyMunky June 5, 2015 at 12:31 am

I’m surprised how many people are saying people shouldn’t be judged by their clothing – this might explain some of the outfits worn by job applicants I’ve seen recently. There is some clothing that is not appropriate for certain times and places; unless you have just come stright from a place with a required uniform and cannot cover up or change, you dress to the occasion. Appropriate funeral attire (imo) is the same as is appropriate for a job interview; smart, neat, clean and neither flashy nor revealing/overly figure hugging. I have no problem with colour, as long as it is not overly attention-grabbing or garish, but I always wear black, grey or a combination of both to funerals. It’s a sombre occasion and I’m there to pay my respects, not join a fashion parade. This young woman obviously forgot the ‘respect’ part.

Reply

JackieJormpJomp June 5, 2015 at 3:21 am

My 2 cents? When my father died young, there were a lot of people at the funeral, of all ages. Some of whom had been to funerals before, some not. Some who were appropriate, othes…no.
But as the grieving family…let it go. Some people are wierd about death. Some people make it a show about them. Annoying, but laugh to yourself and keep your head down….the thing about death is, you learn to keep you priorities straight. People like this are a laughable glitch, at best.

Reply

White Lotus June 5, 2015 at 10:47 am

I think she picked her ideas of “what to do” from TV and is otherwise totally clueless. Forgive her and send her an etiquette book and introduce her to e-hell.

Reply

Jocelyn June 5, 2015 at 11:05 am

At my mother’s funeral, I wore a black top and skirt (I don’t much care for black, so I had to buy the top; I knew I’d never wear a black dress again). My sisters wore colors; I suspect that’s because one of them didn’t have anything black. Most of the congregation were in work or church-appropriate outfits in various colors. I don’t remember seeing anyone in grossly inappropriate outfits. But if there were, I suspect my mother is now haunting them.

Reply

wren June 5, 2015 at 11:13 am

This is JMO, but one of the ways we show how seriously we take a situation or social event is how we dress. And I don’t mean one must wear expensive clothing. I mean that one wears one’s best clothing to something like a funeral. It shows respect. So I don’t have a problem with clean jeans and neatly pressed shirts. But yoga pants? Having heard comments from several male friends about how they just love yoga pants on young women because they’re so dang hot and sexy, I would shake my head sadly to see them at a funeral or any other serious gathering. Personally, I’m tired of seeing young women dressed like they’re ready to mow the lawn or go to the gym or seduce their SO when they’re in church or court. Yeah, it’s none of my business but it is offensive. Sometimes a person just can’t not see it.

Reply

EchoGirl June 6, 2015 at 1:46 pm

I was with you for the first half of your post, right up until you said ” Having heard comments from several male friends about how they just love yoga pants on young women because they’re so dang hot and sexy, I would shake my head sadly to see them at a funeral or any other serious gathering.” I agree that yoga pants are too casual for a lot of occasions, but that has everything to do with them being exercise wear and nothing to do with men finding them sexy. Plenty of men find lots of different things attractive, but that doesn’t mean that women are wearing them to be seductive. I’m sick of this idea that a woman who wears something a man finds sexually appealing is automatically dressed for sexy seduction. Sometimes yoga pants are just yoga pants.

Reply

wren June 7, 2015 at 11:34 am

I agree with you. It’s the men’s attitudes I hate, not yoga pants, which are comfortable. I am sick of seeing men leer at women wearing yoga pants! Sorry that I went off the deep end.

Reply

MPW1971 June 5, 2015 at 12:25 pm

Some Catholic, Orthodox, and European-based Protestant Christian churches have a dress code posted, especially in Europe, at tourist destinations – old churches which attract people interested in taking photos. these generally require shoulders and knees (and everything in between) to be covered. A high neckline is also considered normal but that merely means “no cleavage”. I have not seen any direction on how tight or loose one’s clothing needs to be. A mini-skirt leave more to the imagination than some implementations of yoga pants, but yoga pants do cover everything down to the calf or ankles (depending upon style).
This can be in stark contrast with the dresses worn by bridesmaids, or even brides – bare shoulders and backs and even generous displays of cleavage. Women get married in churches like that all the time, in North America at least.
I’m a lifelong Catholic and every year there is a reminder for “appropriate” dress in the summer – that what is appropriate for the beach is not appropriate for church. I have generally seen these standards pushed only by teenage girls who are, one can only imagine, doing it as rebellion against their parents or authority, perhaps because they don’t want to be there. That a women in her 20’s was doing this, well, there’s a problem.

Reply

Anonymous June 5, 2015 at 3:12 pm

I agree that this young woman was rude, but I have to wonder, is there an unspoken cut-off, or “degree of separation” that makes a person ineligible to attend a funeral? I’ve been to two funerals that I can remember. The first one was in August of 2009, and it was for a former elementary-school classmate of mine who died of a drug overdose. He and I weren’t particularly friends, but he was just a really good guy who was nice to everyone, and there weren’t a lot of people like that at my school. The second one was this past April, and it was for a former elementary-school gym teacher of mine. We never got along, because I wasn’t good at running, or team sports, and she probably figured I was just lazy, because I was a good student otherwise, but I’d been meaning to tell her at some point that I didn’t grow up to be sedentary; I became a fitness instructor (yoga and Aquafit so far; working on learning to teach Zumba as well). She died before I had the chance, so I found her adult daughter on Facebook and told her about it instead. She reacted positively, and we spoke briefly in person at the funeral. Anyway, at both funerals, I was dressed appropriately, I didn’t get emotional, and I ate very little at the first funeral, and nothing at all at the second. However, I just have to wonder, did I have any business being there at all, if I wasn’t a family member or a close friend? It’s hard to tell with funerals, because nobody is specifically “invited” to a funeral, and unlike any other kind of gathering, the guest of honour can’t say “I’d like a small funeral,” or “I’d like a big black funeral,” like they could say they wanted a “small wedding,” or a “big white wedding,” or anything in between. However, there seem to be some unwritten etiquette rules about who is and isn’t supposed to go to a funeral.

Reply

Snarkastic June 8, 2015 at 1:44 am

In my experience, a lot of people who aren’t immediate family or family, go to show their respect for the bereaved. They also go to, perhaps, mourn a loss of their own, depending upon the relationship. So, if you pay your respects kindly and briefly, I think it is ultimately a nice thing.

However, more than half the services I have been to, start in a chapel and then move to the grave site. Once they move to the grave site, it is often only the family (in my experience). After that, they meet everyone to eat.

Reply

kingsrings June 8, 2015 at 1:23 pm

If a funeral or memorial service is to be private or only restricted to certain people, then the obituary notice will state that or not mention any service at all. If it doesn’t, then anybody who knew the deceased and would like to attend the service can. As long as you act appropriately, there’s nothing wrong with it.
I attended my sixth grade teacher’s service even though I hadn’t spoken a word to him since he was my teacher many years ago. A lot of my classmates and other students of his were there as well. He was an amazing teacher and we wanted to honor him.

Reply

metallicafan June 5, 2015 at 7:46 pm

Ok, so perhaps the OP spent a little too much energy criticizing this young woman.
But, that in no way changes my opinion that this young woman’s behavior was completed inappropriate and she was dressed inappropriately. This was no young teenager, she was a woman in her twenties, old enough to know better. And if she didn’t know for some reason how she should dress or act, she could have asked someone. Or, look it up on the internet. I’ve done that myself, there are articles out there on how to dress appropriately for a funeral.

Reply

Callalilly June 8, 2015 at 7:38 am

I have much less of a problem with the attire than the behavior.

Some people don’t have ‘appropriate’ clothing, and can’t afford to get it. Last time I checked, though, behaving in a respectful manner doesn’t come with a price tag

Reply

Raven June 8, 2015 at 8:29 am

I’m amazed at how many people here are putting this woman’s behaviour down to being “young” or not knowing any better. Not texting during a funeral isn’t rocket science, for example. Even if she had never been to a funeral, or never seen a funeral on TV or in a movie, or even read about one in a book, all she had to do was look around her and see what other people were doing or not doing. Her behaviour was completely inappropriate. If she was so overwhelmed and grief-stricken by the death of someone she had not known very well, how did she manage to inhale a plate of food before everyone else had even returned from the gravesite? No.

As for the clothes, I doubt they would have mattered as much without the rest of her outrageously inappropriate behaviour. For those who say it shouldn’t matter at all, though, I disagree. We had a guest show up to our wedding in jeans (fashionably torn/worn ones), and we were disappointed. We knew for a fact he had nicer clothes than that, as he wears dress pants to work every day. It felt disrespectful.

BTW: This is why we had our minister ask our wedding guests to kindly turn off their cellphones just before our wedding ceremony began. It’s sad that we had to think about it at all, but I was bound and bent that our vows would not be interrupted by someone’s phone playing The Macarena.

Reply

SadieD June 8, 2015 at 9:13 am

When my grandmother passed away we had a cousin who showed up to the wake in shorts, a bright orange tank top, and hiking boots. She was a mess. There were comments, a few stares*, but we were happy she came, especially since we she in the middle of a camping trip when she’d heard my grandmother died (they were close).

This is not that situation. This woman was sight-seeing and looking for a free lunch. She should have been ashamed of herself.

(* but not as many stares as my dead-grandmother’s twin sister got, and the looks of shock from the people who didn’t KNOW she had a twin)

Reply

SJ June 11, 2015 at 12:20 am

It sounds like you and many funeral attendees had the good etiquette to assume the best of your cousin who had to arrive in less-than-ideal attire. And, then, of course, I’m sure her good behavior probably helped, too.

That’s kind of hilarious about the twin. I hope it isn’t insensitive of me to say!

Reply

SadieD June 15, 2015 at 9:24 am

Looking back now it WAS hilarious. I’ve been to many wakes where there was an open casket, but never one where the deceased was sitting on a loveseat by the front door, lol

Reply

Enna June 16, 2015 at 4:54 am

Like SJ said it’s one thing when a situation like this happens but I’m sure word got round that the lady had been on a camping trip.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: