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Funeral Etiquette

Here is a list of frequently asked questions regarding funeral etiquette

Who should be contacted regarding the death of the deceased?
Contact all immediate family, extended family, friends, employers, and work acquaintances, in that order.

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Is black the only appropriate color to wear to a funeral or visitation?
No. Black is fine but it is okay to wear other colors as long as they are conservative in style. Darker colors tend to carry more of a conservative tone.

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How long do I need to stay at a visitation or service?
Your visit can be as brief as 15 minutes if you are not family; however, if you are at a memorial service or religious celebration, it is best not to walk out in the middle of the ceremony.

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Should young children attend a funeral / visitation or memorial service?
There is no rule against children attending any of these services. We recommend speaking to the child to see how they feel about it and then act accordingly. There is no sense in forcing a child to attend if they might find it to be too upsetting or frightening. If a child does attend and gets upset, allow them to leave. If they are very young and creating any disturbance during a quiet part of the ceremony, remove them until that part is over so as not to disturb the mourners and then return when that part is over and the child has settled down.

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Does the deceased’s family need to be in attendance for the entire visitation?
Usually there should be some family members present to receive visitors during the visitation hours. Families can break up into shifts if some of the family members are having difficulty coping. Family members do not need to escort visitors to the casket.

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Who closes the casket for the last time?
Usually it is someone representing the funeral home in the presence of the immediate family or at least one member of the family. The family is the last to see the deceased but do not have to be present for the final casket closing if it is too emotional or upsetting.

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What other items besides flowers are considered appropriate to send to a bereaved family?
Food or fruit baskets, homemade baked goods, dinners, mass cards if Catholic. Plant a tree in the deceased’s honor. Make donations in the deceased’s name to a favorite charity. Assist the family with chores that require time, i.e. picking up out of town mourners from the airport, food shopping, meals, babysitting, etc.

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What is an acceptable time frame to send out thank you or acknowledgement notes?
2-4 weeks.

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Does everyone who came to the visitation or funeral get a thank you or acknowledgement card?
No, it is not necessary to send a thank you to everyone; however, anyone who sent flowers, mass cards, food baskets, plants, or monetary donations should receive a response. Also anyone who prepared food, provided babysitting, spiritual leadership or any other helpful services to the family, as well as pallbearers and honorary pallbearers should receive a thank you note.

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When opting for cremation, is it okay to have a visitation?
Yes. When choosing cremation you can have all the same choices and services that you would have with a burial, the only difference is the final disposition. Instead of being buried in a casket, your remains are cremated and the ashes are then stored in an urn, buried or placed in a niche, or scattered; all usually in accordance with the last wishes of the deceased.

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What to do if the deceased was a baptized Christian but fell away from the church?
If the deceased would have desired a religious service most churches will honor them as being eligible for a Christian burial.

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