Author Topic: Funeral advice for the socially confused  (Read 2640 times)

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postalslave

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Funeral advice for the socially confused
« on: February 05, 2013, 10:03:45 AM »
I am attending a wake/ funeral for a close work colleague. After reading these boards for quite some time I've learned that bringing the bereaved family food is typically appreciated and an appropriate way of conveying sympathy and support.

A few questions as North American funeral etiquette is not something I know a lot about:

- when does one bring such food? Do I just drop it off at their home?
- there is "reception to follow" the lunch time funeral, would I bring food then?
- should I bring something to the wake? More food?
- why type and how much food is appropriate?

I'm close to the family but horribly socially awkward. I just want to help them during this time in the least awkward way.


Shoo

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Re: Funeral advice for the socially confused
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2013, 10:09:58 AM »
I'm sorry for your loss.

I wouldn't take food to the reception.  If you want to give them something to make things easier in the next few weeks when they're likely drained emotionally and probably physically, make something that can be frozen and cooked or reheated later.  Get yourself a disposable baking pan and make a casserole or lasagna that can be popped into the oven at a later time.


Hmmmmm

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Re: Funeral advice for the socially confused
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2013, 10:14:04 AM »
My experience is that the wake is held at the funeral home or church and you do not take anything to that location.

Taking food over to the family can be really anytime in my experience.
Some people have probably been dropping off food at the family's home since the time of the death. Other people will take things to the luncheon to follow. And other people will drop off food to the family for a few days after the funeral.

If taking something for the luncheon, a standard size casserole (think 8 servings), a pie or cake, a dozen rolls, or a few bottles or a case of soda or water is also very helpfull.

If taking something after the funeral, I'd take enough to feed the residence of that house one meal.   

But most important to me is to not take anything in a container that needs to be returned to the owner unless you will be taking the responsibility of making sure it is well marked and are willing to come back and pick it up.

DottyG

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Re: Funeral advice for the socially confused
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2013, 01:25:51 PM »
All the above advice is good.

Something else you could do that would really be helpful is to wait and take something a week or so afterwards.

I "housesat" for a family friend while she and her family went to the first part of the visitation  and then someone came and relieved me while I went to the last part (small town - you don't want to leave a house knowingly empty as a temptation for thieves who know everyone's at a visitation or funeral).  During that time, I took in so much food from well-wishers that I finally didn't have room in the fridge, freezer or even countertop to put it.  It was all so sweet, but there's really only so much food that a family can have at once before it goes bad.  And the freezer idea is great, but freezers only hold so much - if everyone decides to do a frozen, "to be eaten later" meal, the family still has a problem.

What would be even more appreciated is to go by after all the initial stuff has passed - when the family is starting that "everyone's gone on with their lives, but we're still grieving" period.  Take something for them then.  And, if they're up to it, maybe stay and visit a bit.  At that point, they may need someone to be there to comfort and listen now that all the hooplah is over and the masses have gone away.  That may be when their shock is over and the real pain is setting in.

Edited, because WillyNilly is correct in that a visitation is different than a funeral.  Although her numbers are different than what I've always experienced.  Just as many people attend funerals (burial is immediately after that) as the visitation with the family (and possibly body) the night before.
 
 
« Last Edit: February 05, 2013, 02:02:19 PM by DottyG »

WillyNilly

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Re: Funeral advice for the socially confused
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2013, 01:37:41 PM »
Ok first off, I have to say in my experience and area wakes and funerals are not even remotely similar.  Its not something you can say "I'm going to the wake/funeral" about.  They are very very very different things, in different places, on different days. (Similar to a "wake" would be a viewing or shiva.) You might go to both the wake and the funeral, or just one, but they are not interchangeable words. In my area, the wake, and perhaps the funeral church/temple service is for extended friends & such and the actual funeral (burial) is only for those very close to the departed.  The difference in attendance can be 100's of people with way more at the first and very few at the latter.

Either way, food wouldn't be brought to either unless its in the family home (like a shiva).  The food is something geographically close friends & family bring around the family home in the days after the death (ranging from 1 day to a month later).  Sometime people will send food (like a fruit basket) to the home, but be careful to not send it on days the family will be out all day at the funeral home or the cemetery attending to the formalities of the death.  The point of the food is an either or thing - sometimes its because the grieving family will be having lots of people over the house - out of town relatives in for the services, friends & neighbors dropping by to pay respects/check in, etc and this way the family has food in the house to offer them, and sometimes its to ease the burden of having to shop and cook from themselves during their mourning period.  As such the food an be a fruit basket, a box of chocolates, a frozen casserole, a cold cut platter, an assortment of various ready to eat grocery type foods, etc depending on when its being given and its intent.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2013, 01:39:59 PM by WillyNilly »

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Funeral advice for the socially confused
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2013, 01:45:00 PM »
In my neck of the woods, there would be a visitation the afternoon and/or night before the funeral.  Then you attend the funeral and there is a 'tea' put on by the church ladies or another service group.  The family makes a donation to the group as a thank you for them putting on the tea.

So as someone going to the funeral, you wouldn't take any food to the funeral home or church, unless you are specifically asked to do so.

The best plan is to take something in a disposable container straight to the family's home.  If it can be frozen and eaten later, so much the better.  I like PP's ideas of taking something over a week or so after the funeral.  They'll have eaten or frozen (or pitched) everything they got at the time of the funeral and would probably appreciate it.  Or, if you want to take something right away, you could take a gift card for a restaurant that offers take out.  That way, they could order something in when they didn't feel like cooking.  And it isn't perishable.   :D
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DaDancingPsych

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Re: Funeral advice for the socially confused
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2013, 01:49:49 PM »
I am so sorry for your loss.

I really can’t add to the wonderful “food advice”, but I wanted to say that we recently lost my grandma and one of the things that my mom appreciated the most was a book of postage stamps. She had a lot of people to thank afterwards and certainly did not have enough stamps. This made her life a bit easier.

DottyG

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Re: Funeral advice for the socially confused
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2013, 02:02:47 PM »
DDP's idea of stamps is excellent.


Hmmmmm

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Re: Funeral advice for the socially confused
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2013, 02:08:00 PM »
I am so sorry for your loss.

I really can’t add to the wonderful “food advice”, but I wanted to say that we recently lost my grandma and one of the things that my mom appreciated the most was a book of postage stamps. She had a lot of people to thank afterwards and certainly did not have enough stamps. This made her life a bit easier.

DPP, I remember a friend dropping off a book of stamps after my Dad's funeral. At first I thought it odd, but after writing the 50th thank you note, I was really happy I didn't need to go to the post office to buy more stamps. 

Starr

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Re: Funeral advice for the socially confused
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2013, 02:08:31 PM »
I think this must vary by region.  I live in Kentucky and the "wake" is usually called the "visitation" and happens the day before the funeral.  Here, the visitation is usually at a funeral home, and it's not unusual for close friends of the family to bring some food for the family to eat (since they will be at the funeral home all day with no way to go get something).  Usually close friends or the family's church will bring sandwiches, chips, and maybe some sodas or dessert.  This is usually kept in a designated lounge or kitchenette in the funeral home for the family to pop into.

That being said, this doesn't seem to be the case every where, so I think the previous suggestions to deliver something to the house would be your best bet here.

I'm sorry to hear about your friend.  ((hugs))

peaches

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Re: Funeral advice for the socially confused
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2013, 02:10:57 PM »

I have always thought that a note is the best and most appreciated way to show support. You could express your condolences and tell the family how much you enjoyed working with that person, and how much he/she will be missed. It doesn't have to be long, just sincere.

WillyNilly

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Re: Funeral advice for the socially confused
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2013, 02:19:42 PM »
I think this must vary by region.  I live in Kentucky and the "wake" is usually called the "visitation" and happens the day before the funeral.  Here, the visitation is usually at a funeral home, and it's not unusual for close friends of the family to bring some food for the family to eat (since they will be at the funeral home all day with no way to go get something).  Usually close friends or the family's church will bring sandwiches, chips, and maybe some sodas or dessert.  This is usually kept in a designated lounge or kitchenette in the funeral home for the family to pop into.

That being said, this doesn't seem to be the case every where, so I think the previous suggestions to deliver something to the house would be your best bet here.

I'm sorry to hear about your friend.  ((hugs))

In NY state every funeral home I've been in has a sign near the entrance saying its illegal to bring food inside.  Its to the point where I often wonder if employees are allowed to bring lunch.

DottyG

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Re: Funeral advice for the socially confused
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2013, 02:22:01 PM »
Quote
I think this must vary by region.  I live in Kentucky and the "wake" is usually called the "visitation" and happens the day before the funeral.  Here, the visitation is usually at a funeral home,

Starr, this is how it is where I am as well.


Yvaine

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Re: Funeral advice for the socially confused
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2013, 02:27:00 PM »
I think this must vary by region.  I live in Kentucky and the "wake" is usually called the "visitation" and happens the day before the funeral.  Here, the visitation is usually at a funeral home, and it's not unusual for close friends of the family to bring some food for the family to eat (since they will be at the funeral home all day with no way to go get something).  Usually close friends or the family's church will bring sandwiches, chips, and maybe some sodas or dessert.  This is usually kept in a designated lounge or kitchenette in the funeral home for the family to pop into.

That being said, this doesn't seem to be the case every where, so I think the previous suggestions to deliver something to the house would be your best bet here.

I'm sorry to hear about your friend.  ((hugs))

In NY state every funeral home I've been in has a sign near the entrance saying its illegal to bring food inside.  Its to the point where I often wonder if employees are allowed to bring lunch.

In the one I was in most recently, there was a lounge area. There wasn't food in the viewing rooms, but the lounge had coffee and some light nibbles and the immediate family was invited to go in and partake.

Betelnut

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Re: Funeral advice for the socially confused
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2013, 02:27:36 PM »
Honestly, you don't need to bring/take food at all.  A really nice sympathy card that has a heartfelt message with a story or two (funny or otherwise) about the deceased would also be very appreciated. 

Sometimes people get too much food and that can be a burden too.
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