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Funeral etiquette guide

If you have never attended a funeral before, it can be difficult to know what is expected of you. Our funeral etiquette guide will answer the most common questions about attending a funeral in the UK.

When you are asked to attend a funeral or you choose to attend, please remember that you are there to pay your respects to the person that has died and their family. Here are some key things to remember about funeral etiquette to prepare you for attending a funeral.

1. What to wear to a funeral

Traditionally, black or dark clothing is worn due to its historic associations with mourning. There is a growing trend towards wearing brighter colours to help celebrate the life of the person that has died. The family or funeral director will usually issue guidance on what to wear if there are specific requirements, however you should always be smart and avoid casual clothing where possible.

You can find out more detail on what to wear to a funeral in our previous blog which can be found here.

2. What to take to a funeral

When attending a funeral it can be useful to take the following items with you:

  • Donation for charity;
  • Tissues;
  • Sunglasses;
  • Umbrella;
  • Sympathy card.

You can read more about what to take to a funeral in our blog here.

3. Who can attend a funeral?

If you are unsure who can attend a funeral, it is best to speak to the family or you can look at our online funeral notices to see if the funerals are open to anyone attending. The family of the person that has died have the choice to decide whether a funeral service is private or open to anyone attending.

4. What is a funeral procession?

A funeral procession is where the family and friends will follow the hearse to the crematorium or church. Some people will choose to travel in a limousine or their own cars.

Traditionally, the hearse and procession will leave from the home of the family or the person that has died. Some people will choose to meet at the funeral service. You can check with the family or your funeral director if you are unsure.

5. Where to sit at a funeral

When attending a funeral for the first time, you may be unsure where to sit at a funeral. If you are immediate family, you will generally be expected to sit in the first few rows. The rest of the attendees will then sit in the remaining seats. If the number of attendees is smaller, it is sometimes a good idea to sit closer to the front so the officiant can be heard easily.

6. Should I send flowers for a funeral?

There is a growing trend of families opting to accept donations rather than flowers at a funeral. The funeral notice will usually dictate the families requests. However, sending flowers when someone has died is a good way to show your respects and may provide comfort to those that have been bereaved. If you are unsure what flowers mean in relation to funerals, you can read more about the different meanings in our blog here.

7. What to say at a funeral

The best thing to say at a funeral are words of sympathy and comfort. 'I'm sorry for your loss' is an appropriate response. You can read more about what to say when someone has died in our blog here.

8. Should I send a donation for a funeral

More families are opting for donations in lieu of flowers at funeral services. Here at Tom Owen and Son, we have opted to offer online tributes in partnership with MuchLoved, which allow online donations and make use of gift aid. The online tributes, which can be found here, are in addition to bringing a donation to a funeral and leaving in the donations box. Alternatively, if you cannot attend a funeral you can send a cheque to us and we will process with the other donations received.

9. Should children attend a funeral?

We believe that death should be openly talked about to make it less of a taboo and therefore letting children be involved in funerals should be considered by their parents. There are no restrictions on children attending funerals, but some families choose not to take toddlers or babies to prevent them disrupting the service. For more information on whether a child should attend a funeral, please read our advice guide here.

10. Should I go into the church or crematorium before the coffin?

Whether you should go into the church or the crematorium before the coffin is all dependant upon the families preferences. Typically, in a church service, only the immediate family would follow the coffin in with all of the other attendees seated beforehand. Whereas at the crematorium, it is traditional for everyone to follow the coffin in. There are however, no rules to this and you can choose with your funeral director on whether you would like to follow the coffin in.

If you have any questions or need more information on funeral etiquette, you can get in touch with us here.

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