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Funerals are a time when it can be hard to find your balance. You have just lost someone that was near and dear to you, and amidst your sorrow, it can be hard to keep your eye on funeral etiquette. If you do so however, you will win kudos and accolades from your loved ones and friends, and they are sure to be amazed at how graciously you have been able to handle your loss. Here are a few helpful hints that are sure to win you points from funeral attendees as you plan your loved one's funeral.
First, when you write the obituary for your loved one, make sure to mention what times the visitation will be held at the funeral home. This is always good funeral etiquette Your loved ones and friends will no doubt want to come and be there for you after your loss, so you ought to make it easy for them to do so. Also, unless it is a personal matter, part of funeral etiquette includes letting your loved ones know gently in the obituary what the cause of death was. Not doing this is sure to lead to either the awkward "What happened?" question in so many...stammered...words, or they will always wonder.
Second, it is a good rule of funeral etiquette, both towards the deceased and your guests to make sure that your loved one is dressed in something suitable to his/her tastes at the visitation. This may be a fore-gone conclusion, and most funeral homes usually have good taste in such matters, but it is nonetheless usually a good idea to find out beforehand. A mistake at this moment will be seen as major putts in funeral etiquette, and it could mark the rest of the proceedings. It is however, easily avoidable, so you should find out beforehand what he or she will be wearing
Third, another good rule of thumb when it comes to funeral etiquette is that you should phone or visit those whom you want to invite to the funeral within a few days following the death of your loved one. This will ensure that your loved ones feel welcomed at the funeral and have enough time to adjust their schedules, and cancel any less important commitments. They will surely thank you if you do this for them, and will appreciate your consideration at such a difficult moment.
Hanging a wreath on your door used to be a necessity when it came to funeral etiquette. Today, you can probably get away with not doing it, but you may still get the appreciation of some of your older guests if you do. Whether or not to do this should be left up to you, but a nod to this age old tradition will not be unwelcomed, certainly.
At the funeral, be sure to thank those in attendance for coming and taking time out of their no doubt busy lives. This is a good rule of funeral etiquette. Try also and speak individually to everyone who attends. Make sure that when you do, you listen to what each one has to say, and give acknowledgment to their feelings. They will each get the sense that you recognized them all personally, rather than just leaving them to be "seat-filler's." When it comes to hugs, the funeral etiquette seems to be, try and get a sense of whether or not they want one. Some do, some do not. It often just depends on the person. The majority of people however will appreciate it, and will probably be the ones to reach out for a hug from you. Still, it is often best to play this one by ear.
When it comes to the eulogy, funeral etiquette seems to dictate that you keep it short and somewhat to the point. No one will likely ever say anything, but they will notice if you exceed the typical limit. They will also praise you in their minds for your funeral etiquette if you manage to keep the eulogy under about 15 minutes. Also, make extra sure that the stories that you mention of your loved one are flattering to the departed, and are also clearly understandable, not requiring a great deal of background knowledge. To do otherwise can lead to an awkward blunder in funeral etiquette.
With regards to funeral songs, it is a good idea when it comes to funeral etiquette to consult your loved ones and others participating in the funeral. This will let them know that you value their contribution to the funeral as well. Also, perhaps there was a song that your loved one loved to hear that you never knew about. It would be a shame not to play that song at his or her funeral.
Funeral etiquette also dictates that you send thank you notes to the minister or officiant, pallbearers, friends who helped, and to all of the guests that signed the roster. Be sure to mention it if anyone gave you money, a flowers, or any other sort of condolence gifts. They will surely appreciate your gratitude. Thank you notes are becoming rarer these days, so your effort to do so your guests are sure to think that you went above and beyond when it came to funeral etiquette, and they are likely to thank you back the next time they see you.
When planning the burial, funeral etiquette dictates that you make certain that your loved one is buried in a well maintained area. There are Federal guidelines that every cemetery allocates a sufficient amount of funds for maintenance, but there are those that buck that rule. Funeral etiquette says that in order to make yourself, your loved one, and indeed the audience appear in the best light, you should make sure that the cemetery where your loved one will be buried at is kept up as well as it possibly can be. If you discover that it is not, you probably should not do business with them.
Many of these tips on funeral etiquette are almost certain to come to you naturally as you plan your funeral, but it is always a good idea to make sure that everything is properly arranged beforehand.