Etiquette School is in session! > The Ehell Guide to Never Behaving Badly

Funerals and Mourning

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The other thread for this seems to be specific to a particular event, so I thought I'd start a new one that was more general. Mods, if this is inappropriate, please delete.

For the Bereaved:
- No matter how tempting it is, resist the urge to use the funeral, obituary, or eulogy to air the deceased’s dirty laundry, settle old scores, or have the last word. Even if you are absolutely in the right on all counts, you'll still end up looking petty and mean spirited.

- Remember that shock, grief, and exhaustion have a huge impact on perceptions and emotions. Be generous with the benefit of the doubt until the situation has settled somewhat and you can be objective.

- Allow other members of the deceased’s family and friends to grieve in their own way without judgment. Work, exercise, humor, and even socializing are coping mechanisms just as valid as crying and praying. If going into the office, or out for a round of drinks, or hitting the gym gives someone the strength they need to remain functional, it's not for anyone else to decide or comment on whether it's proper or not.

For Those Supporting and/or Consoling the Bereaved:
- Keep expressions of condolence brief – "I'm so sorry for your loss,” is perfect. Trying to say more than that is usually what lands people in eHell.

- Please consider making a charitable donation in lieu of flowers if the family requests it. Plants and flowers have to be dealt with and/or disposed of after the funeral – if the loved ones are from out of town, have allergies or health issues, or just don't have green thumbs, giving them something else that has to be taken care of can be more burdensome than comforting.

- Sending or bringing food is a time honored tradition, but please make sure that it is welcome before doing so. Be especially aware of any dietary needs or restrictions, such as vegetarian or keeping kosher. Again, if most of the family is only in town for the funeral, it may be more of a hindrance than a help to have mountains of food to deal with before they can leave.

- Don't bother the family with mundane details if you can help it. Call the funeral home or house of worship for directions, service times, dress code, or any other information you might need. If you are coming from out of town, make sure those numbers are programmed into your phone.

Edited to fix grammatical glitches.


--- Quote from: FoxPaws on February 23, 2011, 06:00:37 PM ---
- Remember that shock, grief, and exhaustion have a huge impact on perceptions and emotions. Be generous with the benefit of the doubt until the situation has settled somewhat and you can be objective.

--- End quote ---

This goes for those supporting the bereaved, as well. People suffering from a loss are usually doing the best they can. Catty comments about the choice of coffin, or the hymns sung at the funeral, or what the widow is wearing are just mean.

Funerals should celebrate the person. laughter can be approriate even in the funeral service.

Use the terms that the family use. Our family hates the terms " lost" and "taken from us". Others may prefer them to "died".

No matter how devote your beliefs, exclaiming if the deceased/family of the deceased had been a better X, then they would not have died/suffered so much.

Very nice list. I love that you mentioned grieving in your own way. it seems each passing I see there is always one who needs to "escape" all together until the stress has passed, and that poor soul always gets the blunt end of the criticism making it much worse than just a loss.

I would add that you not assume religion and keep your own "prayers" and such free from conversation unless it is clearly a particular denomination.

Past funeral etiquette, I like to wait a few weeks to offer gifts or a visit. Often people who loose experience a huge burst of support and food and then the dust settles and they are left alone by the end of the week. I like to be present as a gateway into a new normalcy without that person.

Some of these are corollaries to what others have said:

-Do not say to the mourners, "Well, if [deceased] hadn't done X, Y, or Z, (s)he would be alive". While that may be true, the mourners do not want to hear it, and it really serves no purpose.

-Do not say, "It was for the best" because at the moment, the mourners are probably thinking that it either wasn't for the best and/or it would have been "best" if the deceased had not become sick/had an accident.

-Please do not tell the grieving that it should be easier to "get over" an older person's death.

-Please do not tell parents who have just lost an infant that they can "have more children". It is their CHILD, not a computer. You can't replace a child.

-Cell phone use: TURN THEM OFF for calling hours or at the funeral. If you do not know how to use your cell phone, please keep it at home until you know how.

-Do not berate someone for taking all of their bereavement time allocated to him/her.

-Please be mindful of the rules of religious services. Do not talk during the service; take your child outside or to the "cry room" if (s)he is misbehaving, etc., etc.


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