Author Topic: What are the rules on where to sit during a funeral?  (Read 9247 times)

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JaneJensen

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What are the rules on where to sit during a funeral?
« on: March 28, 2011, 03:05:01 PM »
I attended services last week and I keep thinking about this. For the record, I was just a friend sitting in the back.. so it doesn't affect me personally..

Lets say the grandmother of a family passes away. Who sits in the front rows at a funeral or memorial service?  The adult children and spouse ?  Do adult grandchildren sit there as well?

I was thinking it should be the closest family members. Spouse first, then adult children, adult siblings, adult grandchildren, but if you arrange the seating like that.. then the spouses of said adult children and grandchildren  are sitting several seats back-and that looks.. strange somehow.  I think if I was at a service for my DH's family and he was up in the front row, and I was in the back, I would feel bad for him, Maybe he'd want some comfort during the service?

What are the proper etiquette rules for seating in these situations?


Poppea

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Re: What are the rules on where to sit during a funeral?
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2011, 03:08:02 PM »
I've always seen relatives it together as family units:  spouse, son/DIL/Granddchild, Daughter/SIL/kids, Other daughter/SIL/kids.

I've never seen adult siblings seated in front of grandchildren or a son/daughter in law.

LaciGirl007

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Re: What are the rules on where to sit during a funeral?
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2011, 03:10:21 PM »
IIRC, for all the family funerals I've been to, the seating "rules" (if any) aren't as well-defined as, say, at weddings.  Generally, close family (however the family defines that) sits in the front few rows; as to who sits exactly where, that depends on how people feel; who would be most comforted sitting next to whom.  Actually, the reason I don't recall the "rules" exactly is that I was so out of my mind with grief that I didn't really notice, or care, who sat exactly where.  I recall coming from viewing the body (which was close family only) as a group, and we all just sat down in the front few rows in whatever seat was most convenient, given how we walked into the chapel.  

It just wasn't high on the agenda of things to think about after a loved one's death.

Sharnita

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Re: What are the rules on where to sit during a funeral?
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2011, 03:11:43 PM »
I've always seen relatives it together as family units:  spouse, son/DIL/Granddchild, Daughter/SIL/kids, Other daughter/SIL/kids.

I've never seen adult siblings seated in front of grandchildren or a son/daughter in law.

I agree.

Judah

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Re: What are the rules on where to sit during a funeral?
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2011, 03:11:48 PM »
I've always seen relatives it together as family units:  spouse, son/DIL/Granddchild, Daughter/SIL/kids, Other daughter/SIL/kids.

I've never seen adult siblings seated in front of grandchildren or a son/daughter in law.

That's the way I've seen it.  Although, when my grandmother died, I sat as far in the back as I could. DH and my brother's wife sat with me and my kids sat in the front with the other close relatives.  I just have a thing about open caskets.
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rigs32

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Re: What are the rules on where to sit during a funeral?
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2011, 03:12:15 PM »
I went to my SO's grandfather's funeral and we sat in the 2nd or 3rd row together.  Space was at a premium as they have a large family and the service was at the funeral home, not a church.  Just as they were about to start, I noticed that several of the younger kids had their own chairs.  This was going to prevent my SO's sister from sitting in the family row.  I got up and moved a couple rows back to one of the few open seats so she could be with the family.  I felt terrible as my SO is one of those unemotional men who will allow me to comfort him but would have been holding everything in sitting between his sister and a cousin.  

Thankfully, his aunt-in-law noticed what was going on and had her daughter sit on her lap so that I could sit next to my SO.  Since his support was the reason I was there, it would have been awkward for me to sit through the service with the departed's friends, but I figured the only polite thing to do would be to allow all family to be near the front together.

Wonderflonium

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Re: What are the rules on where to sit during a funeral?
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2011, 03:13:19 PM »
My mom lost her dad before I was born and her mother when I was young, so I don't know what happened then, but my father lost his father when I was 15, his stepfather when I was 19, and his mother when I was 29. Each time, my dad, his siblings, and their SOs sat near the front. It seemed to work out that one grandchild per child sat with his/her parents, and the rest filled in the back. (Of course, my parents were the only ones still married, if it matters.) I have no idea if that's proper or not. I tend to think people should arrange by family units. Now, when my uncle died, we only had a graveside service. There were seats for his 4 siblings, and that was it. Mom and I stood behind my dad, my cousin S stood behind my Uncle J, etc.

Come to think of it, it's weird that his kids (all adults) weren't sitting. I could be misremembering. That was the 4th funeral I'd been to in 3 months.  :-\

Wow, lots of posts as I was typing.
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Danismom

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Re: What are the rules on where to sit during a funeral?
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2011, 03:15:06 PM »
I've always seen relatives it together as family units:  spouse, son/DIL/Granddchild, Daughter/SIL/kids, Other daughter/SIL/kids.

I've never seen adult siblings seated in front of grandchildren or a son/daughter in law.

Having been part of a large number of funerals, this is the custom in my area.  The in-law sits with their spouse so that the immediate family member has the support of their spouse.  Sometimes teenagers or older children will sit together.  Otherwise the children sit with their parents until they are adults and out on their own.

Kiara

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Re: What are the rules on where to sit during a funeral?
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2011, 03:53:57 PM »
My mom's father, we had a graveside service, and my mother, her sister, and I sat.  My dad stood behind my mom and I, and my cousin stood behind his mother.

For my dad's parents, we had a full Mass.  We only used one side of the church, and the front pew was my dad, mom and I, then my uncle and my four cousins.  I *think* my cousin's boyfriend sat with her.  Behind us in the second pew were my grandfather's family.  Behind that were friends, and they pretty much sat where they wanted. 


PinkWildRose

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Re: What are the rules on where to sit during a funeral?
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2011, 04:10:26 PM »
The family occupies the front rows of the church (or venue).

For a formal, traditional funeral it would be:

Widow/widower, parents and siblings (with spouses) of the deceased first.  Then children of the deceased, with their spouses, children, and grandchildren, each family together.  Nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and cousins of the deceased would be beyond that.  If a child or grandchild of the deceased is not married but has a close romantic partner, that partner sits with them.  If the family is large, this can be quite a production.

OP, during funerals, spouses are always expected to sit together, both to show a sign of family solidarity, and to privately give one another support.  So your instincts are correct, you would sit with your husband.

Xallanthia

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Re: What are the rules on where to sit during a funeral?
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2011, 04:21:44 PM »
At both my grandfather's and grandmother's funerals, the setup in the church was the same:

-----------      -------------
Pallbearers*      (grandma) Dad & 4 siblings
Misc                Other family in next several rows (2-3)

My mom didn't sit with Dad as she is 1) not Catholic and 2) my dad was occupied with his mom (when grandpa died) and his sisters (both times).  He is very private in grief and so occupied himself with theirs in public and handled his own later.  Two of Dad's siblings have partners (one married, one long-time live-in); at Grandpa's funeral they sat behind with the younger children.  At Grandma's the kids were old enough to sit with their cousins and I don't remember where they sat.  I think my aunt's boyfriend sat with her and my uncle's wife sat with the grandkids.

* In our case, there are 6 grandsons and the youngest was 14-15 when Grandpa died (2006), so they were pallbearers at both funerals.

Hmmmmm

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Re: What are the rules on where to sit during a funeral?
« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2011, 04:25:01 PM »
I think I've always seen it with the family units sitting together, but I think it all depends on the family, the age of the grandkids, and the size of the family.  When my mom passed, my sisters and I chose to sit in the front pew together with my mom's only sibling sitting with us.  My BiL's and nieces and newphews sat behind us (only 2 sis's were married at then).  We were in one of those small side family pews that can't be seen well from the rest of the congragation.  I think we did that way so we wouldn't get into an arguement about who sat in front.  I think when dad passed we did similar.  Mom sat in front flanked by 2 daughters each and the BiL's were behind with the kids.

The last family funeral I went to was for an aunt who died at age 95.  She was the last of my father's generation and everyone made a major effort to be there.  She had 5 children, 5 SiL's/DiL's, 21 grandchildren, 20 plus great-grandchildren all in attendance.  Plus another 40 plus of assorted nieces and newphews, and two surviving sister in laws.  I think her children sat in the first pew with their spouses (they were all late 60's to late 70's) and then the rest of the direct descendents took up the next 5 or so pews and the rest of us just filled in where ever.  The minister joked that her funeral had trippled the population of the small community she lived in and had set the record on attendance at her church.    

Nuala

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Re: What are the rules on where to sit during a funeral?
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2011, 04:26:58 PM »
I've always seen relatives it together as family units:  spouse, son/DIL/Granddchild, Daughter/SIL/kids, Other daughter/SIL/kids.

I've never seen adult siblings seated in front of grandchildren or a son/daughter in law.

At MIL's funeral, the front row of seats was filled with her husband and children.

I sat behind DH with our children.  The other spouses and grandchildren filled these second and third rows.

I don't know how it was decided; I did what I was told--although I honestly can't remember who told us to sit there, but I do know that all of MIL's kids were in the first row.

hardia

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Re: What are the rules on where to sit during a funeral?
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2011, 04:39:29 PM »
I think it really depends on the family's preferences and dynamics.  At my (maternal) grandfather's funeral my grandmother sat in the front pew with my aunt and uncle (her two unmarried children), my mom and dad and my mom's brother and his wife sat behind them, then the grandchildren (and their partners, if applicable) filled the pew behind them, with more extended family behind them.  I just attended my husband's grandmother's funeral and the seating was in family groups -- I sat with my husband and his brother, directly behind their parents (my MIL was the daughter of the deceased) but my MIL's brother and his wife and their son all sat together.  I have also attended funerals where the immediate family (spouse and children) of the deceased sat in the first pew and partners/children/extended family sat behind.  I'm not sure there are any rules, just what works for the individual family.

Ontario, Canada

kudeebee

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Re: What are the rules on where to sit during a funeral?
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2011, 05:15:22 PM »
In my mom's family is was as follows:

surviving spouse (if there is one)
deceased's children with spouses and their children/grandchildren
siblings of deceased and spouses
nieces/nephews and spouses and children/grandchildren and other relatives--say great aunts/uncles