Attending funeral services or visitation with your family is arguably the best way to show your support and sympathy for the family members of a person who has recently passed away. While this entire experience can be emotionally taxing for everyone involved, it's important that you don't let your feelings get in the way of adhering to proper funeral etiquette. Behaving in the right way is not only respectful to the grieving family, but also sets a positive example for your family and other funeral attendees. If you're not 100 percent certain of some certain funeral conventions, it's best to brush up on them before the next service you attend. Here are three valuable rules to remember.
Don't Overstay Your Welcome
It might seem sensible to spend as long as you can at a funeral-related event such as a service or a visitation, under the assumption that your presence deepens your support. Staying too long, however, can risk adding stress to the family in grief -- one or more members might feel the need to go visit with you instead of greeting other guests. While you should always stay for a duration that feels appropriate in the situation, it's acceptable to keep your attendance at a visitation to about 15 minutes. This amount of time is often more than enough to allow you to pay your respects.
Keep Your Message Brief
It might be tempting to share a long story about the person who has recently passed away when you greet the surviving family members, but it's important to remember that dozens or maybe even more than 100 other people are waiting to express their sympathy, too. It's perfectly acceptable for your message to the family to be brief, provided that it's from the heart. Express the sentiment that you're sorry for the family's loss and briefly share a happy memory about the person, if appropriate.
Don't Write A Message In The Guestbook
Guestbooks are commonplace at funeral services and visitations, but many attendees mistakenly misuse this book. A funeral guestbook isn't a place to write a message of sympathy. While doing so might feel tempting, this book is simply a place for guests to write their name and, depending on the specific style of the book, their contact information. The book serves as an official account of who attended the event and helps the family when it comes time to send notes of thanks. If you want to share your thoughts with the written word, send a sympathy card to the family's home.