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Funeral Etiquette

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Today was the funeral for my mother's longtime companion, who died suddenly during his sleep. The service was lovely, obviously this man was well loved by his community. Lots of tears and some laughs too, as people told their stories of him.

At the graveside, we paid our respects, tearfully watched as his mother was given the flag from his casket, and prepared to leave for the church reception.

No sooner than everyone had stepped away from the graveside, going back to our cars, a worker from the cemetery trotted up to the site. He began to hastily remove the coverings of the grave, casually tossing them aside in preparation to lower the casket. Another worker was already removing flowers and chairs!

I could not believe that these men hadn't the common courtesy to wait a few more moments so that the mourners could be spared this site. The deceased's 83 year old Mother had to see them tearing down the tent as she was driven away.

Completely uncouth.



A few months ago, a friend of mine that I'd known since high school lost his battle with cancer. His funeral was an amazing event, crammed with the many people who knew and loved him but were still in shock at his passing at so young an age. One of those in attendance was a woman who I have known for years, but who has the approximate emotional maturity of a twelve-year-old. She's also a photographer; perhaps you can see where this is going. 

First, she and her friend showed up for the service in ripped, muddy jeans, flip-flops, and holey, stained hooded sweatshirts. Now, I understand that not everyone has a nice suit or something like that to wear to funerals, but at least put on pants without holes; I'm as much of a starving student as she is, but even I managed to pull myself together. All throughout the service, she kept whispering really loudly, trying to carry on conversations (all about her, of course) while the rabbi and family were speaking. Finally, just to make things truly fantastic, she began whipping out her camera and taking pictures of the family and friends who had gathered, some of whom were very emotional and all of whom wanted to be left alone. It was awful; I'm not exactly etiquette-inclined, myself, and haven't been to many funerals, so I kept thinking, "Is this allowed? Should I say something? Is this normal?" In the end I said nothing, which is probably for the best because I was still in the 'anger' phase of grief and almost certainly would have clocked her across the face if I thought I could get away with it.

She then later made a post in her public blog talking about the pictures she had taken and how well they had turned out, but saying, in a very high and mighty tone, that she wasn't going to publish them on this particular blog because they were "private." Oh, how very kind! Next time, don't take the pictures in the first place!


I was a brand, new bride when my great-grandmother died after a long illness.  My mother had taken care of her for several years and we all knew that her passing would leave a huge void in my mother's life.   Imagine my shock when an acquaintance of my mother's approached me at the funeral.  She agreed that the death would really affect my mother since she had devoted so much time and energy to looking after my great-grandma.  Then she told me that it would be best if I got pregnant immediately since it would give my mother "something to do"!  Needless to say, that was advice I didn't take!


My mother-in-law and father-in-law were friends with a very nice widowed gentleman.  Shortly after his wife's death, he began dating a woman of "questionable" character.  She moved into his house almost immediately with her grown daughter and basically lived off the kindness (and money) of their dear friend.   My MIL made it very well known that she absolutely despised this woman and wanted nothing to do with her.  Although it was difficult to maintain their friendship with this woman in the middle, they did so because the fellow was such a great man.   

When their friend died suddenly, the woman and her daughter cleaned out his house and bank account and disappeared.  My MIL said it was good riddance to bad news.  That is until my MIL took ill.   As soon as the neighbors heard of my MIL's illness, suddenly this woman was back.  She started calling my FIL and asking to visit him (with my MIL in the hospital!).  We did our best to intercept the calls and visits, but she was persistent!  My mother-in-law would have been furious to know that this horrible woman was calling on my FIL while she was in the hospital.   

After a brief illness, my mother-in-law died.  We decided on a private, family-only service and said as much in the newspaper announcement.  The day before the funeral, the funeral home called to let us know that my mother-in-law's "oldest and dearest friend" had called and NEEDED the service information so she could console the husband.  Yup, you guessed it!  The gold-digger was looking to hook up with my father-in-law at his own wife's funeral!   We told the funeral home that it was exceptions.  We even went so far as to post "look outs" at the doors during the service.   Within days after the funeral, we transferred my FIL's assets into a trust.  Needless to say, he suddenly lost his appeal to a certain interested party!



I had a wonderful friend in Africa. His parents were missionaries, and he had grown up around Kinshasa, although he did attend High School and College in the States.  He then returned to Africa to work with his parents. He was a warm, wonderful, friendly person, the kind that is so cheerful you just want to slap them. We grew extremely close.  There was a group of us that like to go down and swim in the safe coves of the Congo river.  One day, however, some of my friends decided to leave the safety of the cove. The plan was to let the strong current carry them from one end of the cove to the other. Well, it went tragically wrong, and my friend drowned. His body was never recovered. 

After 2 weeks, his parents decided it was time to give up hope and hold a memorial service for him. On that day, I arrived early at the church building.  His Mother told me that I and 2 of his other close friends could join her and his Father in the family pew. The church was full, as my friend was very well loved.  However, after the opening prayer, an older  couple he had never really cared for walked in late, and made their way to the front of the church.  The people in the pew directly behind the family pew scooted over to make room for them, but they said "No, we'll sit up here", and sat down in the family pew, squeezing us all in. I have never experienced or seen such a faux pas at a funeral before or since. I thought it was very rude and hurtful to his parents.


DH's Aunt "Pleasant" passed away after a long illness and within months of DH's fathers passing in 2003. DH's family for the most part are all buried in a small town with the services of this small town's funeral home. With FIL's funeral a certain pastor was requested but unavailable so dh went with whom the funeral director suggested which from the church right across the street from the funeral home. Powder blue suit minister, which he is now being called in our family did okay with FIL's funeral, it was his wife, the soloist for which I about lost it at the service, she was so bad I had to lower my head to keep from laughing and I wasn't the only one. When she first started I was looking around trying to figure out what that screeching noise was. Ever hear a car with the fan belt getting ready to go, that same high pitch. For the aunt, FIL's sister, another sister was planning the funeral and the aunt that passed had made it known that she only wanted a grave side service. Well this funeral director talked the aunt into going ahead and having a short service at the funeral home, aunt agreed as long as it was short. Well the same minister was hired again and showed up in the same powder blue suit, hence the name and for the service proceeded to lecture us, the grieving family, for well over a half an hour on what was the proper way to grieve instead of giving us a short service, yes wonderful soloist was on as well. We also had to listen at the grave side for another 20 minutes. We were all livid especially the aunt that arranged the service. Nothing was done unfortunately but when the mother of these two people passed this year, we got the minister we wanted and the service was much better and we used canned music, no loud screeching this time.  



My aunt is related by marriage, my biological mother's brother's wife, and growing up I was around her family several times a year. I really liked her mother, father, brothers, etc, so when her mother passed away it was only natural that I would go to the funeral to pay my respects to my aunt and all of the family there. It was on an inconvenient night for my husband, who works long hours, but he made arrangements to be home early from work to go with us. I got my three girls and myself ready to go, though it was quite a drive and we would be out late. It was dark, it was a tough drive, it began to rain at some point, and we got a little lost looking for the place in an area we weren't familiar with. Nevertheless, we arrived to pay our respects and greet everyone.

My family cannot resist making negative comments to me, but I was sure they would behave at a funeral home of all places. I didn't want to stay long and encourage them to find a reason to be rude, so I made sure we were only going to stay for an hour to show our respects. For once I was almost convinced they would behave, and as I looked at my husband he was hoping for the best, too. I smiled politely, greeted everyone, and hurried into the main room to greet my aunt and her father.

As I turned the corner, my uncle exclaimed loudly, "WHAT'S THAT IN YOUR NOSE?"

Without missing a beat, I reached up and said equally as loud, "WHAT? A BOOGER?"

I had wanted a nose ring since I was 14, and at 30 years old I finally got a nice little one. I never imagined my family would make such a public spectacle of it while standing next to the casket in a crowded room full of people paying their respects.



When my grandmother died it was of course a sad ending to a very long year. The morning of the funeral mass and burial our family was gathered at the funeral home to begin a prayer service which would kick off the day.

Imagine our surprise when our sort of boyish female cousin arrived in a skirt. But this was not just any skirt it was a show-stopping, conversation piece of clothing that no woman should be without.

The skirt itself was white and very full. It had a swirl black design which was accented with many sequins. She paired it with a tight black halter top which was accented with a huge sparkly broach right between her breasts. Not only that, she wore strappy party sandals with sparkly butterflies on the toes.

This cousin didn't stop there. She had a very sleek, chic, cropped haircut which only made the unbelievable large sparkly beaded earrings MORE noticeable. She topped everything off with sparkly hairpins.

Don't get me wrong, she looked great. The outfit was awesome - if she were going to a New Years Eve party, in Vegas. It was just so offensive and "out there". Probably we could excuse it but this cousin was a reader during the funeral mass and we were beyond embarrassed that she was representing the family at this conservative, country church.



At my grandmother's funeral mass my cousin let his two young children emit, howling sobs, throughout the entire mass.

These children were too young to really be affected by the death of my grandmother. At most they probably saw her twice in their young lives. Certainly they were affected by the thought of death and not really "okay" with being there. I don't blame them.

I blame my cousin who stood there stony faced and didn't even try to console them or have his wife (who also only saw my grandma twice in her life) take these poor children outside so the rest of us could hear the priest saying wonderful things about my grandmother.



My grandfather passed away during my Spring Break (I'm in grad school). I have pink hair, my sister has purple hair. We both planned to wear black scarves over our hair, but my aunt said it wasn't necessary - our hair is what it is and our grandfather would have liked it. After the funeral, the first thing my grandmother says to me is, "I can't believe you wore pink hair to a Pentecostal church!" Whoops, I didn't know, this is what I get for listening to my aunt!



My father died in November, two days before his 67th birthday. He dropped dead in a store parking lot, and it was shocking and sad. My siblings and I had a difficult relationship with him, he had been belligerent and lonely for years, and he had no friends; so while his sudden death was sad it was not tragic, as he'd gone as he'd always wanted to--quickly and without lingering in terrible health.

We chose to have his funeral in the town where he grew up, 2 hours from where he lived. We planned viewing hours (we didn't expect anyone but family), a brief, informal service, cremation overnight, and then the scattering of his ashes at a place he'd been happy in his youth.

One of his sister's high school friends came to the viewing. I was delighted she was there because I was most concerned about my aunt--the middle of 5 children and now, at not even 70, the only surviving one. I was also glad to speak to someone who had known my father in a happier time of his life. I should have realized the problems when my mother (who separated from my father over 15 years ago, but neither remarried) mentioned that my grandmother sent my father to cotillion classes, and this woman said she should have gotten her money back because my father couldn't dance. My mother, who danced with him at his wedding and had chosen the music for the viewing from what they'd danced to in their youth, was flabbergasted.

The woman, Diane, soon cornered me and began to tell me that she and my father had been each other's first dates. Indeed, she said (multiple times), "Some people think December 7, 1941, is a day that will live in infamy. It's really December 9, 1955, because that was my first date." Apparently, there had been a Sadie Hawkins' dance, and she and a friend had asked my father and his friend "because they weren't popular with girls, and we thought we wouldn't have competition." I asked several times what went wrong, and she kept saying, "Whatever you can imagine about the worst date ever, that's what happened." Um... as she knew, I'm a criminal prosecutor. Say worst date to me, I think assault, rape, murder. Apparently, it was more along the lines of my dad was a bad dancer, he never kissed her, and after the dance he still didn't like her but became very popular with other girls. (He was young for his class but very handsome). Somehow, the story lasted about 30 minutes, and kept looping back on itself, until (I'm ashamed to say) I called my sister over, asked if she'd met Diane, and excused myself.



Some time ago my sister's husband's brother died of alcohol poisoning after ingesting unreal amounts of beer and tequila in one evening. At the funeral some of his desert (Morongo Valley) friends showed up, many of them tweakers and beer alcoholics. When we, the in-laws of the deceased brother entered the chapel we were greeted by a couple French kissing in one of the pews. She was wearing a thrift-store mini-dress with no underwear (which was clearly not visible, although other things were) and an open beer was on the pew next to him. They continued swapping spit even as the preacher began the eulogy. At the cemetery one of these same folks staggered in the dirt by the casket, fell against it and knocked the floral arrangement off, then shouting "oh f@#k! as she fell.


Our step-mother, my sister & I all had a decent relationship until my father became fatally ill with pancreatic cancer.

He died within two weeks of being diagnosed with it. It was such a shock to our entire family.

The story that unfolds within the last few days of his life and afterwards is so tacky it’s still hard to believe. Apparently, our father was a filter to keep the drama-queen wife under some control. When he became ill; she seemed to have become mentally ill. She proceeded to tell my sister that she was not in-love with our father anymore; she loved him, but wasn’t “in-love” with him. (EXCUSE ME?!)

She would walk around the house & cry out “oh sh!# !” or “Dear Jesus” while throwing her hands in the air or belching out loud.  Since we are Christians, we were thrown back by this since we couldn’t remember the last time she’d been in a church, let alone talk about God with us. She’d pace the floor complaining how she didn’t know how she was going to get by without our father; that she would need to hire a cleaning lady to help with the housework (in a home less than 2,000 sq. ft!). Our father died in their home with a Hospice nurse present. My step-mother was ranting & raving in such a way that you would have to see it to believe it.

The next morning, she informed us that she was going to the funeral home to sign financial paperwork. OH so not true! She came back with EVERYTHING planned out: the casket, the clothing our father would wear, the funeral home visitation times & the burial time scheduled. She didn’t want us to help her in anyway because she’s a control freak. She picked out an ugly golf-shirt for him. That’s not what we wanted him buried in, but she never asked & we had no way to change it after the fact. She cried that she was worried about “devoted nieces & nephews” coming from out of town would not make it in time or at all. Never mind her step-daughters that dropped everything & made it there lickity-split for their father. 

Even the obituary was a nightmare. I had typed & re-typed it for content about times before I said “no more!” My step-mom & uncle (our Dad’s brother) wanted to cross off a line that stated where Dad had lived for 2 decades. It was where my sister & I were raised. But it was “irrelevant” to my step-mom & uncle. After they had crossed it off & said it was irrelevant I didn’t want anything else to do with them. I printed off our version that included where Dad had lived for 2 decades, signed & dated it and wrote “please leave AS IS.” I would not edit again.

Each day got worse. She immediately started cleaning out closets & giving away his things. She’d say “if you don’t take them, I’ll either give them away or throw them away.”  How in the world were we supposed to process all that has happened & then have to deal with this on top of it too? She even said “If I find anything that I think you should have; I’ll mail it to you.”  Step-mom said tackier & tackier personal things to each of us. The worse part was the funeral. It was impersonal & not focused on the man he was. We left the funeral service at the cemetery with our father’s casket waiting on a golf-cart-tow-truck-thingy to take him to his final resting place. After all, this was a military cemetery for veterans. The only comforting thing was when we all had lunch and my cousin, who is a pastor, said some very nice things about Dad.

If it had been the other way around, this would have never happened. Our father was a gentleman & would have told whomever to “work it out & stop the nonsense.”



My beloved mother committed suicide when I was 20 years old.  It was stunning and took our breath away.  My father and four siblings and I struggled to come to terms with the event.  I took charge of sending thank you notes and acknowledging the floral arrangements and other kindnesses that were extended to us.  I found myself perplexed however as to how to answer an inquiry from my mother's cousin, a tacky, clueless, classless, ignorant idiot.  She persisted [and still does today nearly 30 years after the event] in asking, "Please tell me what happened?  How did she kill herself?  Why did she kill herself?"  and other completely inappropriate inquiries.  I chose to ignore her entirely and this has served me well, nigh unto 30 years after the event.  She still engages in inappropriate and disgusting speculation as to my mother's state of mind and the way in which she kept her home.  Truly tactless.



When I was 22 I lived in northern Germany and worked as an au pair for a couple of years.  This is a difficult, poorly paid job that can easily lead to exploitation.  And it did!  Without a doubt the absolute worst family I ever worked for lived in a wealthy Hamburg suburb.  The Hausfrau was the living embodiment of the saying "Money doesn't buy class."  I could fill a book with the stunningly rude things she said and did to me during the short time I worked for her family.  However, one incident in particular stands out in my mind:   One day I received a letter from the sister of a good friend back in the United States.  I had never met the woman, but she had kindly taken the time to write and notify me of her brother's death, 2 weeks previously, in a horrible car and bicycle accident.  As I sat there holding the letter, blinking like a fish and digesting the information, Frau Ignorant asked me what was wrong, and I told her.  Her smiling response?  "Oh, well, don't feel bad.  That's life!  But you must tell my (12-year-old) son Marcus, because he's never careful on his bicycle."   I do believe that that was the first time in my life I have ever been stunned into complete silence by anyone's rudeness.



My first husband committed suicide at age 40 after a serious bout with depression. We had been married since I was 17 years old and had our good moments and bad moments. We both worked at the same company. I had asked for the funeral to be a closed casket as it was hard enough to deal with his death without having to remember him laying in a casket as a last memory but some of the family asked for there to be a separate viewing with the lid open which I agreed to as this could be beneficial for their comfort. Everyone knew I would not attend this viewing and accepted that. During this visitation I heard that one of our co-workers attended and cried so loud and hard that all eyes were on her. Later, as those that attended went by the casket before leaving, this woman leaned over and kissed my husband. People wondered about this and although no one asked me about it for years, little did they know, she had been his most recent fling. I knew, and my kids knew, but his parents, my parents, and our families didn't know. Guess what became obvious that day?



Recently my beloved 94-year-old grandmother died and the funeral was at the (Baptist) church she had attended faithfully until becoming bedridden.  The church had installed a new minister since she had attended and thus the minister conducting the funeral didn’t really know her.  I asked if I could speak at the funeral so there would be a voice from someone who really knew her, and my profession requires a lot of public speaking so I knew I could do a decent job.  Permission granted and at the appointed time I spoke for about five minutes about special memories with my grandmother and how wonderful she was.  After the ceremony many people told me how nice my “speech” was, and I told them my grandmother gave me a lot of material to work with.  

BUT  the minister managed to work little details from my speech into the eulogy, which would have been nice except he was so negative about them.  I mentioned that my grandparents were never known to argue, when he spoke he said “I’m sorry to burst your bubble but I guaranteed they argued. All couples argue” .  I mentioned my grandmother taking me out for ice cream and telling me I could get anything I wanted and how I felt like an absolute princess; when he spoke he hated to tell me that grandparents are a lot nicer than parents and that my grandmother had probably never told my aunt (her daughter) that she could get anything she wanted.  I thanked my dad and family for letting her live out her final years at home but knew others there might have had to put a relative in  a nursing home and thus worded my thanks not to make them feel guilty.  The minister pointed out what I had said but then went on in such a way that you’d think putting someone in a nursing home was tantamount to pulling the car over and throwing the person out.   Well, my dad was able to do this because my stepmother is relatively young and he could afford to support the family on his income while my stepmother took care of my grandmother (I thanked her too!).  How many people can manage that?   I thank God that I will never have to step foot in that church again.



I am currently employed at a funeral home and have been for many years. I am technically "the" secretary, but do do the occasional arrangement. I do everything there is to do with the funeral the family wants. Once the director/or myself is done getting the information from the family, I take over. My job is to plan the funeral in no time flat! My other duties include, making sure the flowers are in the chapel, setting up the body (make-up, clothing fixed, hands clasped with/without a rosary/bible, etc....whatever the family may bring us). Make the coffee, music, I have to get all the prayer cards printed and ready, I call for clergy, I call the cemetery, clergy records, death certificates, and on top of all of this, I still have to answer the phone, help people who come to the funeral home, etc.....Don't get me wrong, I like my job, but I don't think people or "the families" really realized what goes into planning a funeral. We have a saying, it is like planning a wedding in one day. And believe me NO mistakes better happen!!    

Well, now that I have got that out of the way, let me explain something to "the families". There is no need to bring an outrageous amount of food into the funeral home. I know and understand that sometimes you are there for hours on end. Leave! Go take a break and run down the street to the nearest diner or fast food joint, and take a few people with you, take turns doing this, it will get you out of the funeral home for a much needed break. I recently had a family that had so much food, it wasn't even funny anymore. They actually had 2 hams delivered, yes two full size hams, on top of numerous pastry baskets, fruit baskets, about 5 meat and cheese trays, and a local pizza/sub shop delivery. You are there to mourn the loss of a loved one. 

Do not come into the funeral home, pass by the casket speak to the family for 5 minutes, then excuse yourself to the lounge for the rest of the day, smoking and eating. This is disrespectful. This is not "your" home. This is a "funeral home" despite the word "home" it is not yours! Yes, I am there to make your visit with your loved one as comfortable as possible, but I will not tolerate your children running through the funeral home screaming. I will not tolerate them running through "my" office while I am trying to conduct business. All the while you are too interested in smoking that cigarette and scarfing down all the food you can. 

Also, you might think that it is funny to sneak alcohol into the funeral home, it isn't. I don't really care one way or another if you do sneak it in, but if I see you with it, I "have" to tell you we do not allow drinking alcoholic beverages on the premises. We are not a bar, we are not a banquet facility, or a soup kitchen! This is a funeral home that you came to, to mourn the loss of a loved one. I don't want to find small bottles of liquor in the couches after you leave. I don't want to see them out in parking lot either, if you are going to bring them, throw them away or take it with you, you shouldn't be drinking and driving anyway, and if I do know for a fact that you were drinking and you leave to get into your car, I will call the police, because I do not want you back in my funeral home three days later with the same group of people and go through the whole thing again! It's happened!    

On service day when you see employees carrying more chairs for you to sit down on, don't just stand in their way and look at them like they are retarded, MOVE out of the way or help them, is that too much to ask? You see me carrying two chairs, which is all about I can carry at one time, you see that there are about 50 people standing, you know exactly what I am doing, so when I come BACK through with 2 more chairs, MOVE again, don't just stand in that same spot and look at me like I am making your life somewhat harder because I have to KEEP asking you to move so I can get through.     

On paying for a funeral. Yes you actually have to pay!! No, my funeral home does not accept payments, sorry. I don't know of many funeral homes that do. So, when you ask, and I say, "No, we don't, sorry, payment is due in full on the day visitation begins or before", do not get snippy with me. Don't start saying things like, "I cannot believe that you are making me pay, I cannot afford all of this and my dad/grandfather/mother/aunt just died." I do sympathize with you, believe me, but rules are rules, and a Funeral Home is a business just like any other business. You wouldn't go into a grocery store and say, "Can I make payments, I have no food, what do you mean I can't make payments?" We are running a business just like any other! We do give breaks to those in need, many many times! But don't think that you are going to get one because you are being argumentative with us. If you do not have a lot of money for a funeral, then consider doing a one day funeral for just a few hours during the day. Believe me, people will attend if it is before 5pm during the week. Also, don't forget, the funeral is for the deceased and it's close family members, so you should be doing what the deceased wanted first and foremost then you, the wife/husband/children, etc. What ever is best for the immediate family. You should not be concerning yourself with distant relatives or friends, this is for 'you'!   

Dressing for a funeral. Yes, things have toned down. No, you don't have to wear all black or not wear red. You should dress appropriately, but lets get realistic, OK. Mini skirts with stilettos and a see through blouse, not appropriate! Velvet dresses with spaghetti straps (especially on young teenagers) NOT appropriate. Wear jeans and a nice shirt already, many people show up in jeans, and it looks fine, but when someone shows up in their Friday/ Saturday night club outfits, it just plain tacky. So if you choose an outfit that you would wear out the bar, don't wear it to the funeral home.   

If you bring children, do not plan on staying all day with them, they get irritable and bored, there is nothing for them to do "all" day. It is not cute when they wonder in my office to be nosy, or ask for a pen and paper so they can draw, it is very annoying when they start running through the funeral home and you laugh it off saying "oh, they are just bored being here", yeah, no kidding! Take them home or to a sitter then.   

On food, no more than a couple of meat/cheese/pastry trays, a few bottles of water, maybe a bottle of soda, don't bring in a bag of ice and set it in the lounge sink, because if you do, then I cannot make you coffee. Your ice is in my way, and I will not move your things out of my way to make you more coffee! I have had many many many families bring in cases of soda, ice, and numerous other items that have to be refrigerated. We are not equipped for such things. Like I said before, this is not a banquet facility. We have a very small refrigerator, that you can fit some small items in (many funeral home do not even have refrigerators) , if you see that the staff of the funeral home already has items in that fridge, do not remove them and make way for you items. If you see that those items are clearly marked "STAFF" on them, do not eat or drink them, these items do not belong to you and it is rude! I will not come into the lounge and start eating or drinking your things so please do not eat or drink my things. I cannot leave the funeral home at any given time to go grab a soda or lunch, so I bring my lunch with me and I mark it "staff" so no one will eat it, but sometimes it just disappears while there is a visitation.

  Death certificates, we do them as a courtesy for the families we service. There is a charge for these. This is not the funeral home's charge nor does the funeral home profit from these. The City Clerks office has there own set price of death certificates, depending on which city you loved one passed it will be a different charge for each city, the funeral home does NOT make this price up. You tell us how many you want and we do the running for you and we charge you accordingly to what that clerks office charges. We in turn HAVE to get a doctors signature on the death certificate, usually the doctor that was caring for the deceased. It is sometimes very difficult to track down a doctor at a good time. Going to the doctors office, we have to wait just like anyone else, so when the doctor is free he can sign it. Yes, I know it seems simple, all he has to do is write his name. But doctors have patients he/she is seeing, surgery, etc.... So we wait, sometimes we have to wait a few days, either because the doctor is off that day, or he/she only signs death certificates on certain days, who knows! So after we get that signature, then we have to take it to the city clerks office, where we have to pay for them, and get the certified copies. Also, we do service more than just your family, so usually the person doing the death certificate work is running around to many different clerks offices and doctors offices, so it may take a few days! So, the funeral home doesn't actually "do" the death certificates we do the leg work, so when you keep calling and asking what is taking so long, please take that into consideration.   

Veterans, please, we need to see that the deceased vet was honorably discharged. We need the DD-214 no matter what if you want a flag and a military service. No questions! If you cannot find it you may apply for a lost DD-214, but it may take a few to get it back, and this will delay the funeral if you want to wait. The funeral home will let you borrow a flag to display with the deceased, but we are going to take that flag back.   

Music, I know people love music, I love music, it is part of every ones day and I don't even think I could go a day without listening to some of my favorite music. But, please, don't bring me 5 CD's and expect me to play #4 on disc 5 before prayers begin, #8 on disc 1 after Uncle Johnny is done speaking, then #6  on disc 2 as people file by the casket. Make a CD at home and have them prepared for us, if you want any special music played. The funeral home already has numerous CD's that we play through out the day, we always have a version of Amazing Grace, so ask us what we have, then if you are dissatisfied then make your own and bring it in, we will be happy to play it as long as it is not too much of a headache. Even if you want to bring your own CD player and put it right in the chapel with everyone, go for it!   

Arrangements, please do not just walk in to a funeral home and say, "My so and so just passed away, we need to make funeral arrangements." Please call first, so you will not be irritated when I say,  "Well, we had a funeral service this morning and the director is not here at the moment because he is with another family at the church/cemetery for so and so, is it possible for you to come back later?" This happens all the time! If you do walk in, of course I will try to help you in anyway that I can, I will even take the information from you, and find out what exact arrangements you were thinking of, but in the long run, you are going to have to come back to speak with the director. So please call, and if you don't call don't get rude with the person telling you that they will schedule you an appointment, you wouldn't just show up at a funeral home at 2am and expect someone to help you, you may call at 2am and someone will schedule you an appointment, keywork 'appointment".   

I may have ranted here, but these are some things that you may want to keep in mind while attending a funeral. I have many stories I could post and will in the future about etiquette and the families that I have dealt with, it's amazing how people act. Until then.....remember "always treat others as you would like to be treated".


You may well decide that I belong in the EHell for what I did, however I do not repent even now.

My grandfather passed away about a month ago following a very long battle with cancer. He followed my grandmother who died over 10 years earlier from the same cancer.

After the funeral the family was locking down the house, but allowed family members to come by and select something that would remind us of grandpa. I was still very upset and had not yet been in the house since his death, and taking a trinket did not seem like it would help my memory of him. I did however find a photograph of my grandmother holding me when I was very young- about 2 – that I had not seen before and did not have a copy of it. It was in a frame that had other photos and on the back of each photo was written the sender (in this case my mother) and who was in the photo, clearly me.

I stated that I didn’t want the trinkets being passed around, but I really wanted that photo of my grandmother and myself. Having lost grandpa just made me miss them both even more. Now mind you I didn’t ask for the entire frame which had photos of my cousins in it, I had requested the picture of me. My mom told me when I showed it to her that it was the only copy and she didn’t see why I shouldn’t have it. Now my aunts have been allowing family members to take furniture, books, anything they wanted, so when I showed her the photo I had taken out she became very upset that I had separated it from “the frame”. Her logic was that whoever had put that together would want it back (she wasn’t sure who that was, but wanted to find out) and I maintained that the pictures should go to whoever was in the photo with our grandparents. My cousins who were there all wanted their pictures too (remember I said their names were on the back) and my aunt refused to allow them. I refused to put my photo back because I didn’t think that anyone else would want it, and we were allowed to take “anything”, no stipulation on photos.

My aunts refused to let anyone else take anything after that, not even my mom who was there to retrieve a box set aside that was mentioned in the will. She gave us a cold send off and I took my picture.

I found out later that many things she wanted her kids to have including that frame in its whole, but why anyone would want a picture of me as a baby confuses me still.

The picture of my grandmother sits beside me on my desk even as I write this. Photos should be returned to those who are in the picture with the deceased. No one else should be able to lay claim to them.


No cowboy regalia at funerals!   When I was about seven, my grandmother on my father's side died.  We all went to the funeral and all seemed appropriate.  Then, my father's cousin Kay arrived with her husband and their six or so year old child.  The child was dressed in cowboy regalia, complete with cowboy hat and holsters bearing cap guns!  If this garb wasn't bad enough, the little hellion marched up to the open casket and whipped out the cap guns and double shot them into the casket yelling, "BANG YOU'RE DEAD!".  Let's just say this incident is firmly branded into my brain, and I still see it as vividly as it happened.  To say it was surreal is an understatement!



I had a friend in college that was particularly close to his Father.  His Mother had left them both when he was a young boy under some shady circumstance.  His Father passed away unexpectedly leaving my friend the sole heir to a modest estate which included the home, which was badly in need of repair, and whatever was left in the father’s bank account (not a lot).  Then my friend found out that the father had several life insurance policies that would cover the expense of fixing the home, but also allow him to finish college.  The only problem was that the Father had neglected to change the name of the beneficiary from the ex-wife (Mother) to the son.  The long lost ex-wife swept in and claimed her prize with no thought to her abandoned and orphaned Son forcing him to eventually sell the home he and his father had shared his entire life.  Tacky doesn’t even cover it, cold hearted, greedy, and cruel would be more appropriate.


Apparently it wasn't important enough to the father that he make appropriate arrangements for his son after his death.  

When I was 12 I attended the funeral for my Step-Father’s Grand father, we’ll call him “Grandpa Joe”. Grandpa Joe and Grandma “Bets” lived in an apartment complex of mostly seniors. We had just come back from the burial to a very small reception in their apartment, when this lady shows up. Most assumed at first that she somehow knew either Grandpa Joe or Grandma Bets and had come to pay her respects. However after a couple of minutes of conversation it was made clear that she was new to the building and someone had told her that there was a “party” upstairs.

You think at this point she would have been understandable mortified to have “crashed” a funeral and would have made her apologies and left the family to grieve, but no, she proceeds to help herself to a drink and continues to make small talk with the family members like it’s a cocktail party.

It doesn’t stop there however, she then proceeds to have one-too-many and begins to shamelessly flirt with Uncle “John” (Grandpa Joe’s son) and unsuccessfully tries to get him to leave his father’s funeral reception to go home with her!!!!!

Where do these people come from?????? 


I have a dear friend whose classic good looks and sweet personality make her an absolute magnet for male attention, although she honestly doesn’t seem to realize it and thinks people are always that "nice".  She is happily married, but her husband is a pretty secure guy and just jokes about it.

Sadly, her grandmother passed away recently and she and her husband traveled to attend the funeral.  I can’t imagine what was going through the funeral director’s mind to make him think it was remotely appropriate, but I swear he was hitting on my friend the whole time – hugging her repeatedly, telling her how pretty she is, etc.  He also let her know how disappointed he was that she wouldn’t be coming back to see him again.  Oh, and he is also married, and he and his wife co-own the funeral home.  Yuck?!?


I had been dating my then-BF for a few weeks when his uncle passed away.  He asked me to be with him at the Visitation and the funeral, and I agreed.

BF's brother and SIL traveled from out of state to attend.  I should mention that BF's & his brother's uncle had lived across the street from them growing up, and he was really like a dad to them.  The brother especially was extremely close to the uncle.

The morning of the funeral, I drove with the SIL, since BF & his brother had to be at the church way before we did.  I saw that SIL had a notebook with her.  I asked if her husband's eulogy was in there, and she told me no.  (I didn't even know if her husband was GIVING a eulogy, but I thought that was the only reason she'd have a notebook with her.)

"I have finals coming up, so I need to read my notes.  Plus, I'm not [her husband's family's religion], so this service doesn't have meaning for me."

I'm not the same religion either, but the meaning of the service was that my BF's favorite uncle died, and even though I never had the chance to meet him  personally, his memory deserves enough respect to sit and pay attention quietly at the funeral without distractions.

So SIL took our seats in the third pew, and she reviewed her notes while we waited for the service to start.  I assumed she would put the notebook aside once the service started, but she didn't.  While her husband sat next to her sobbing, she ignored him & read from her notes, as if she was at a library instead of a funeral.  I finally had to find a Kleenex in my purse for HER husband, and I put the free arm I had around him to try and comfort him.  (My other arm was around my BF.)



My family has not been close to my father’s side of the family for many years.  Way too may stories to tell there!  My father’s sister passed away in January of 2006 after a lifelong battle with diabetes.  I wasn’t planning on attending the funeral until my mom told me that she wanted to go, but not alone and as the only daughter in the family I felt obligated to attend with mom.  There had been a falling out between my mom and my father’s twin’s second wife, D, several years before.  I told mom that I would go with her for support and when my brother, 20 year old son and Husband-To-Be found out, they all decided to attend the service with us.

I have not been a fan of my uncle’s for a long time (many issues and family reasons) and was stressing over seeing him as I waited in the receiving line at the funeral home.  Unfortunately he and his wife, D, were the executors and were in charge of all of the arrangements.  I greeted D, expressing my condolences and extended my hand to my uncle for a handshake when, to my great surprise he pulled me in close to him for a bear hug.  Now remember, I haven’t seen this man in many years and we had never been close to begin with. As I tried to end the bear hug I was absolutely amazed to feel a hand gripping my rear end.  I was finally able to remove myself from the hug/grope feeling totally shocked and speechless.  I turned to my fiancé and asked, “Did you see that?!”  My dear HTB’s response was, “Did he just grab your a**?” and a hearty chuckle.  My immediate family and I puzzled over this as we took our seats for the service, but were soon distracted by another unexpected occurrence.

The adult daughter of D was taking pictures of my dead aunt in her casket, as well as pictures of several women posing in front of the casket.  When the women sat down in the row of chairs in front of us, D’s daughter again came over to take their pictures.  Needless to say it was one of the strangest funerals that I had ever been to.  Imagine being groped by your uncle and having pictures taken at the casket.  We were absolutely speechless! Luckily my dear HTB didn’t judge me by certain members of my family and today we are happily married.



My mom passed away in April of 2005, which was hard on everyone due to how young she was and how suddenly it happened. The preparation for the funeral was especially hard on my dad and all 5 of us kids. But I soon found out how cold and callous my family could be. Even though I lived 5 minutes away from my father's home I was never included in making any of the arrangements. They would mention it in the after math "Oh when we went to go pick out Mom's Casket" or "when we went to purchase the floral arrangements" even picking out the plot she was to be buried in. I wouldn't have minded if my father had done all of this on his own as a personal thing to be done for my mother I would have understood. But everyone of my other brothers and sister was in attendance during this proceedings. When I voiced to my father my disappointment of not being able to pick out my own personal floral arrangement he handed my a book of flowers and told me to pick one out and my grandmother who was paying for all the flowers would pay for mine as well. So I put a lot of time and thought into what I thought my mom would like, I also made sure that it wouldn't cost a small fortune. Finally when I had chosen the perfect one I was told that they would order it and it would be at the funeral. Well they never ordered it. I thought well they had a lot on their plates and mine just got forgotten no biggie. 

Each one of my siblings had some part in the funeral both brothers were pall bearers, one sister spoke about my mom, and the other offered a prayer. Well I play the piano and I begged to be able to play the piano at my mom's funeral, one last time for her being she was the one who encouraged me to play. They chose a complete stranger to play. I was hurt so very bad. Out of all five of us kids, I was the one who was outcast and was left out of every aspect of planning my mothers funeral. 

Well this last thing tops everything I have just mentioned. All of us had written my mom letters to place in the grave with her, I had spent a lot of time putting together my last words for my mom. I put it in an envelope, sealed it and gave it to my dad so he could put it in the manila envelope with the rest of the letters and place it in with my mom before they closed the casket. I thought he had done this. A few days later I was at my dad's house and I saw my letter laying on the kitchen table, it had been opened up and was laying out for everyone to read. I never said anything about it, I just took it to the grave sight, read it to my mom and lifted up the slab of grass they lay over it and put it in the ground above my mom. To this day I am still hurt beyond words. I can't understand why they couldn't included me, I even began to wonder if my mom was really my mom. I thought maybe I must've been adopted and I'm not her real daughter because that was how I was treated. It's almost been 3 years now and I still haven't gotten the courage up to ask my dad why he did this to me. 


I got asked out at my mother's funeral by this guy who was a real piece of work. On top of that this same guys mother who was a little "special" proceeded to draw a picture of this rose with a red crayon and demand we place it in the casket with my mother's body.  A women she hardly knew at all. I was appalled. And no I never put it in there I threw it away afterwards. Other than that my mom had a wonderful get together in her honor. A woman who thought that everyone in that town and in her church hated her had an over flowing chapel with a few hundred people there. It was a sight to behold. I know that over all she was happy with how it turned out.



My Grandfather was getting up there in age, no one expected him to live forever but it was how he passed that I had the hardest time dealing with. He was on his morning walk and had cut through a cemetery. While walking something happened and he collapsed and he broke his neck in two places, he was placed on life support for a week before they decided he had suffered enough. I could have dealt with this just fine, it hurt but you move on. The biggest problem I had was that Grandpa had fallen a week prior, and had died two days earlier and everyone in my HUGE extended family knew except me and my littlest sister. My other sister knew when he fell and when he passed away and I talk to her on a daily basis and never once did she say "Did you hear what happened to Granddad?" I don't think anyone would have told me if I hadn't have called my dad to ask some him some off the wall question and he casually says, " Oh by the way Grandpa is dead." I was at work and I broke down sobbing, my boss thought the world was ending. Then I had to break it to my littlest sister but I think I did it in a lot more tactful way than my dad or my sister did to me.



My husband is from a very small community.  He was a rather rowdy individual when he was young, sowing his share of wild oats.  He has since become a dedicated father, an excellent husband and a successful businessman.  We moved from the community where he grew up several years before my wonderful MIL died. At the same time that we moved, my MIL also moved from the community to her daughter's town several hours away.   We returned to my husband's hometown to bury Grama next to Grandpa.  We cherished his mother and when she died I was very honored when her family asked me to give the eulogy.  Our teenage son, accompanying himself on the piano, sang a song he had written for his beloved Grama and his older sister stood up to tell a story in fond remembrance of the good times.  A few people in attendance also stood and told wonderful stories about Grama.  In all, it was a satisfying celebration attended by many of our good friends who still live in the community and by people Grama had known well for many years.   You can imagine my disbelief and horror when on the trip home, my husband told me that "Delores," a choir singer and town mouthpiece, who had been Grama's neighbor for about forty-five years, had said to my husband within earshot of other guests, "You were always such an a**hole when you were young.  How did you get such a nice family?"  Fortunately my husband has a tremendous sense of humor and we laughed 'til we cried, knowing from where the comment had come.



Recently my step-father passed away.  My mother has a sister that lives close by that usually doesn't attend any family functions.  She couldn't attend a function 1 mile from her house with the offer of a ride.  The funeral parlor was 5 miles from her house and nobody expected her to come, despite the fact that she has a car.

Imagine our surprise when she and her husband showed up halfway through the evening calling hours.  About 20 minutes after they arrived, my aunt's new husband disappeared.  I happened to go outside to get something from my car and to my disgust saw him walking their dog right on the lawn by the walkway by where people were having to enter the funeral home. 

 If that wasn't bad enough, the dog decided this would be an appropriate time to have a bowel movement.  There squatted the dog on the lawn by the side walk for all passers-by to see...and smell.  At the very least, you would have expected him to clean up the mess with a baggie of some sort.  To my dismay, he quickly walked the dog to the car and put her back in the car. 



My family has the joke of possibly being the most dysfunctional family in the country, so some of the stuff that happens at funerals is expected, but some are down right horrible to me.

Last month, my uncle died. As a child, I had been pretty close to my mother's brother, but after the family's Great uncle died, he and his wife had done some things that made me and mom very hurt and angry, and so we cut ourselves off from them. I left for the military, and while I was gone, she made something of a peace with them. It was because of this that after I was stationed back home, she called me one day to tell me he had died. I knew that regardless of the hurt I had been feeling for several years, at one time they had gone above and beyond to take care of me after both parents were hurt in a car accident, and it was only proper that I attend the wake and funeral.

The wake was on a Friday evening, so I ran home during lunch to get my kids nicer clothes, but I knew there would be no time for me to get myself into appropriate clothes, so I just went in my duty uniform - desert boots, digital ACU uniform, black beret - and intending to wear my service uniform (the dressier outfit) to the funeral the next day, sort of my way of honoring my uncle... who, by the way, was a Navy veteran, and entitled to military honors.

I unfortunately had to bring my two children, a 5 year old boy and a 7 1/2 year old girl - I am a single parent and their father was deployed, so I couldn't leave them with him - to the funeral as well. Luckily, my 16 year old cousin was there, and he stayed close to help keep them quiet. I had brought along coloring books to keep them distracted and quiet, so they didn't cause a ruckus during the honors, but my extended family utterly EMBARRASSED me. During TAPS and the folding of the flag, EVERYONE should stand - with possible exception of the widow, or the one receiving the flag after it is folded, men remove hats and everyone cover their hearts, while military salute. TAPS started playing, the Navy detail began saluting, I stood, saluted, and realized... EVERY SINGLE ONE of my relatives had their backsides firmly planted in their chairs! I discreetly got my cousin to stand up, and hoped that people would take his lead. NOPE. Not a single person shifted in their seat. Not even my brothers, nor my cousin's father - who is RETIRED AIR FORCE.

Sadly, the next scene that is forever rooted in my mind I cannot blame on my family, unless blaming my son for HIS actions counts. At the funeral mass later that morning, all the children were given carnations to carry up to the front of the church later in the service. My son, who was fairly well behaved throughout the day, decided this was when he was going to grab attention. Instead of walking normal, he decided to take half steps, while scuffing his feet so hard that he might as well have been stomping, at almost a run pace, all the way to the front of the church and back. Everyone laughed. I was mortified. Two of my brothers were in the pew with me, jaws hanging almost to the floor. My mother, a few pews up with my daughter, looked over her shoulder to give the usual "grandmother thinks daughter can't handle raising children if she lets them behave like that" look to me.

My other cousin, one of my uncle's daughters, approached me at the luncheon, and told me that it was ok, she was sure dad LOVED it, because he loved children. I will forever turn red about his actions, but I don't think he was too horrible. But, of course, the fact that she - understandably so - appeared to be not too far from drunk (while holding a bottle of beer in her hand) as she told me this, makes me feel even less embarrassed. Luckily, I come from a large family of Irish Catholics, so drunkardness is not an unusual scene, and given the events of the day, her timing was forgivable.


 I was skimming through your stories about funeral faux pas and had to share mine with you!  It happened when I was 17 or 18 and had lost my grandmother.  My mother had passed when I was nine years old, from cancer, and she had two brothers (L and D) and two sisters (M and A).  We are generally a very outspoken family, not known for tact but things that were said to me at my grandmother's funeral were unthinkable!     Like I said earlier, I was nine when I lost my mother.  Shortly before she passed in 1989, she had taken me to see exactly which headstone she wanted. She explicitly told me that under no uncertain terms, this was the one she wanted, down to the type of stone.  I remember this stone and this day like it was yesterday, despite the fact that that this happened over 19 years ago.  

When my mother passed, unfortunately, she did not tell an adult of her wishes, therefore it was up to my uncle D who took me in to make the ultimate decision as to a headstone.  No one listens to a nine year old who has just lost her mother, therefore whatever I said had been tossed aside and decisions were left to the "adults"  This headstone caused a rift in our family to this day and I don't think that I can ever forgive them for not believing me about my mom's final wishes.     

Well, my grandma had passed in 1997 and my Uncle D and his wife and I went down for the funeral to the town that I was born in.  At the wake, as soon as my Uncle L saw me, he said that he and I needed to talk.  He lectured me for almost an hour about how this was NOT the headstone that my mother had wanted and that he was very disappointed in me for letting them get one that my mom would not have wanted.  I got understandably upset at his comments and told him to talk to his brother who was responsible for raising me and didn't listen to what I had to say.  That was the first of a line of faux pas.....

At my grandmother's funeral, I had not seen either of my aunts (M and A) for a very long time as we lived in different states.  I went up to give my Aunt M a hug in front of the casket and she exclaimed quite loudly (and I am sure everyone in the funeral parlor heard)  "OH my, you have some big knockers!"  Which was quite horrifying to me, being 17 and at a funeral.     

Sitting in the front row in front of my grandma's casket, the second aunt, Aunt A, decided to give me some information that I didn't really need to know about my mother.  I am an only child and she decided to tell me how about two years before I was born, my mom had gotten pregnant but it turned out to be an ectopic pregnancy that she had to have terminated due to health problems.   



When I was a senior in high school and my brother was a freshman, my grandfather on my mother's side passed away after a long bout with lung cancer. The rest of my mom's family lives on the east coast, we live on the west coast, so I had only seen him a few times.

The cancer seemed to be under control, but then the doctors found that it had spread to his brain and the tumor there was not responding to treatment and his condition suddenly worsened. My mom took a last minute flight back to stay with her mother and help her take care of him, leaving my brother and I at home with Dad. She stayed for about three weeks, then had to return home due to her job.

About a week later he passed away, and she had to fly out again, this time for the funeral. Dad wanted to come along, so she bought tickets for them both but couldn't afford to bring me along, and my brother was still in school so that was out of the question. We were both old enough and responsible enough to take care of things while they were gone and both of us had only seen him a few times and us kids hardly knew him, so it was no big deal.

The original plan was for them to be gone for two weeks to take care of the funeral arrangements, so I was quite surprised when I received a call from Dad a few days later saying he was at the airport waiting there to be picked up. Since my brother didn't have his license, I went to get Dad and asked him what he was doing back home already, but he refused to say anything about the trip. It wasn't until Mom got home a week and a half later that we got the whole story.

It seems that they were staying in my grandmother's house. The church where the funeral was held is just a few blocks from where she lives, and after the funeral there was a reception type service at the church where the friends and family all brought food over so she wouldn't have to worry about cooking anything. There was enough food to feed an army. The next day there were plenty of food left, and yet Dad was complaining that he didn't want leftovers and that the bereaved wife of the deceased hadn't cooked him a meal since he got there, on the day after the funeral! Mom was so mortified, she bundled him back on a plane the very next day and said she was never bringing him back to see her family again, and really, I can't say that I blame her.


Page Last Updated July 19, 2010