29 / 03 / 21

How should you act at a funeral?

The passing of a loved one will always be one of the most stressful, upsetting and unstable times in a person’s life. This is often compounded by the stresses of having to organise and carry out a funeral sometimes at short notice, and worrying about how to conduct yourself on the day of the service.

At Prosperous Life we believe in taking as many of the stresses away from someone’s loss as we can, by offering pre-paid funeral plans that take the pressure of organising a funeral and helpful advice for those attending the service, potentially for the first time.

funeral coffin and flowers

How to act at a funeral service

Whether you enter before or after the family depends on the type of service that is being held, but as long as you arrive in good time, the funeral director will guide you to your appropriate position. This might be waiting inside in silence, or waiting outside to give the family your condolences when they arrive.

In either case, your first words to the bereaved should be that of condolence, just remember they will be in great distress and so might not be their normal selves.

When the service has started there is little for you to do, so sit back and try to enjoy the celebration of the deceased person’s life, as funerals are often filled with happy memories and even some humour when reliving the anecdotes of those who have passed away. There are however a few very large don’ts that you should observe.

church funeral service

What NOT to do during a funeral service

It might seem like common knowledge, but there are still some people who manage to get their conduct wrong when attending a funeral, and it is normally for one of these reasons:

Keep your phone switched off

It might sound ridiculous, but you would be amazed at how many people still don’t turn their phone off during funeral services, and as we become more attached to the devices, they are more and more likely to go off. Unless it is an absolute emergency, it can wait. Answering your phone to have a natter with your mate is just about the most disrespectful thing you could do.

Avoid posting on social media

This is aimed more at the younger generations, who are so used to projecting everything about their daily lives to the internet that they might not even realise it is the wrong thing to do. A funeral is a personal affair, to be shared only with those who knew and loved those who have passed away. Turn your phone off, and pay your respects with dignity.

Try to keep your baby from crying

Babies are unpredictable, and believe us we know that controlling a fit of crying isn’t easily done. What we advise is that if you know you have a young child, and you’re not part of the immediate family (who are obviously allowed to cry as loudly as they like), then try to position yourself close to an exit so that should your baby start to fuss, you can jump straight out of the room without causing an interruption.

Try to avoid the cliches

Even the most well-intentioned phrase could be misinterpreted, so avoid using anything that could be taken the wrong way. “They’re in a better place” and “it’ll get easier with time” are both considered nice things to say, and are true, but might also cause offence. A simple “I’m so sorry for your loss” cannot possibly cause any issues.

How to act at a wake

When the service has concluded, and the coffin has been withdrawn you might be left feeling a little lost, and not entirely sure what to do next. Luckily for you the funeral director will be able to instruct you. In most cases the party will move outside and give more condolences to the bereaved family, and will either go their separate ways or head to the location of the wake.

How you behave at the wake should largely depend on the feeling of the room. If everyone is sitting quietly then follow suit, you don’t want to be the loud one in the room. But most of the time these events are more lively than the service itself, and are a great opportunity for telling stories, laughing at old jokes and catching up with distant family members. There is normally food, however it is not always laid on by caterers and so it is worth asking if you should bring a dish.

At this point you can relax, you’ve made it through the day of the funeral without committing any faux pas and with dignity. Now all that is left is to once again offer any support you can to the bereaved, as they will still likely have a whole host of painful tasks to carry out and will still need your help.

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