Some parents do not take their children to wakes or funerals. If this was the case for you, then you might be about to attend your first wake and funeral as an adult. This can be an intimidating experience. You may be worried about how to show your grief without acting inappropriately, and you may be unsure of the etiquette rules surrounding such events. This does not, however, have to be an intimidating experience or one that causes you undue stress. Here are a few tips to follow when attending your first wake or funeral.
1. Remember to show your respects at the wake.
Whether you attend the wake, the funeral, or both is really up to you. If the person who passed was close to you, then it's most appropriate to attend both. But if this is someone you knew more loosely or who was more of an acquaintance, it's okay to attend just one or the other.
If you do attend the wake, the most important thing to do is to express your condolences to the family. Stand in line, give them a hug, and tell them you are sorry to hear of their loved one's passing. Aside from also signing a guest book, that's all that is really required of you at the wake. Whether you linger and chat with people afterwards is really up to you. Whether you do or don't, nobody will think you rude.
2. Wear somber clothing.
This applies to the wake and to the funeral. There's no need to wear all black. That used to be the rule, but funeral and wake attire has become a lot less rigid over the past decade or two. Don't wear a flashy green sundress or a pink Hawaiian shirt, but anything neutral or dark-colored is perfectly fine. Avoid accessories that will call a lot of attention to you, like super-high heels or flashy jewelry. The point of somber clothing is to avoid making yourself the center of the show when attention should be on the deceased and their family.
3. Arrive on time.
Wakes are usually held during a period of time, such as from 5 pm - 7 pm. It's okay to stop by at any time between these hours. When it comes to the funeral, however, you must make sure you show up on time. If the funeral starts at 7:00, show up at 6:50. If you walk in late, you will distract others who are there to mourn.
4. Keep it short and sweet.
If you stand up to speak at the funeral, which is sometimes requested or expected of guests, keep your words short and sweet. It's okay to be generic, but it's distracting to talk on and on while others are waiting. The same is true when you stop to talk to a family member of the deceased. Keep in mind that they have numerous people to talk to that day. Express your condolences, but don't reminisce about times gone by for hours on end—that's for another day.
5. Put your phone away.
Having your phone ring during a funeral or wake can be very distracting to the other attendees. Make sure you either turn your phone off or leave it in your car during these events. If you need to make an urgent call, step out of the room. You should also avoid taking any pictures during the event.
If you follow the tips above, the first wake and funeral you attend should go smoothly. When in doubt, just stay quiet and calm, and observe how other people behave. For more information on funerals, contact a funeral home like Glickler Funeral Home & Cremation Service.