If you'll be attending a viewing or funeral in the near future, regardless of how well you knew the deceased person, there are some important etiquette tips you'll want to follow while you're there--especially if you've never been to a funeral before or it has been awhile since the last time you attended one. By following these tips, you can avoid an uncomfortable situation or even causing further distress to the family of the deceased in this difficult time.
DO Remember to Sign the Register
In most funeral homes, there will be a register near the entrance for guests to sign upon their arrival or when leaving. It is important that you sign this, as you may not get the chance to speak one-on-one with the close family of the deceased. Signing the register will be important to the family later on when it comes to remembering who was in attendance to remember their loved one. Plus, if you give a gift, the register will be the easiest way to collect your address or contact information for "thank you" cards.
DON'T Feel Obligated to Make a Donation
Speaking of gifts and donations, there will more than likely be some sort of donation fund set up or an opportunity to present the family of the deceased with a gift. Often times, donation funds help the family to recoup the costs of the funeral or may even be tied to a cause that had significance to the deceased. Either way, understand that your mere presence at the funeral/viewing is more than enough; you should never feel forced to make a donation or give a gift if you're financially unable to. A card or even a hand-written letter can go a long way.
DO Be Prepared for an Open-Casket Viewing
Depending on the family's preferences, there may or may not be an open casket as part of the viewing before the funeral and burial service. If you're uncomfortable about the idea of an open casket, you may want to find out ahead of time whether the viewing will be open- or closed- casket. This way, you can emotionally prepare yourself.
DON'T Leave During a Prayer Service
While you are by no means required to stay for the length of a viewing or service, it's in good taste to avoid leaving in the middle of a prayer service or family member speech. Other than that, so long as you have paid your respects, signed the register, and given your condolences to the family, you shouldn't feel obligated to stay for the entire visitation. Contact a funeral home, like Rose's Funeral Home Inc, for more help.