For close family and friends, the day of the funeral can understandably be highly emotional.
Coping with your bereavement can be difficult and should you feel that you need help, then tell your funeral director who can give you some guidance or advise you on any support that is available.
On the day, the usual procedure will be as follows:
- The funeral cortege will arrive at the agreed address at the designated time
- Your funeral director will greet you and talk you through any last minute issues.
- You will travel with the hearse to the place of service
- On arrival, the coffin will be taken in to the church, crematorium or alternative venue followed by the family
- The service takes place – see below
- After the service, the coffin will either be taken to the church graveyard, cremated or transported to a cemetery
- If it is a burial then family and friends will gather around the grave while the committal takes place. You may be invited to scatter earth on the coffin or place a stemmed flower
- Flowers will be laid out for you to view and read messages of condolence
- You will then be taken to the venue where the wake or other social family gathering is being held
The funeral service itself typically lasts about an hour although with some customs and religious beliefs, they can last a few days. However, the service can be much shorter or longer – according to the wishes of the deceased and their family.
The funeral service usually involves a mix of prayers, hymns or other music, eulogies, readings, poetry celebrating the life of your loved one. The service is usually conducted by a priest or minister of the church or, for more secular funerals, a ‘celebrant’. Your funeral director can advise on the options here and make recommendations.
Following the service, further time should be allowed for any burial (typically allow about half an hour) and then any wake which may last several hours.
Funeral etiquette has become less formal over recent years to reflect the style of service the deceased and their family prefer.
However, anyone attending a funeral should respect the feelings of the family and act accordingly. Regardless of the style and informality of the funeral, there are some principles that should be observed:
- Arrive in good time
- Dress in appropriate attire – if in doubt, be more formal
- Seating is normally family at the front, with friends behind and co-workers towards the back
- Ensure your mobile phone is switched off – even if switched to ‘vibrate’ it can be intrusive to people sitting next to you
- Do not take photos
- Applause or clapping may be appropriate for some less traditional funerals
- Remain for the whole service
- If you have young children and they become noisy then quietly leave the service
- Likewise, if you are persistently having to cough then quietly leave the service.
If a child has lost a close family member then they should be encouraged to attend the service as it may help to draw closure to the loss and they may regret not attending later. It also allows them to understand that death is a natural part of life.
If you can’t attend the funeral then it is customary to let the family know by writing a letter to them – not email or text! You can express your condolences and explain why you cannot attend.