Funeral Manners and Etiquette for South Africans

When someone you know dies, apart from your sorrow and feelings for the family, a whole lot of other worries about funeral manners come into play. If you intend attending the funeral, you’ll be wondering what to wear and what to say. You’ll even be wondering how much to say.

You’ll be wondering about the here and now as well. Should you call and offer your condolences over the phone? Should you offer to bring some food over to tide them over a difficult time? Or should you just call and take something anyhow? What’s right and what’s wrong?

Sometimes there are so many issues you just wish the person hadn’t died. Because now there are things expected of you. What is funeral etiquette anyway? Does any etiquette even exist in the 21st century? Funeral etiquette may be falling away but think of how you would want friends and family to behave towards you at this time.

Funeral Manners – Don’t Keep Silent

Funeral Manners and Etiquette

Think of how the bereaved family is feeling and what you can do to make this time easier for them.

Tempting though it may be just to keep silent, you can’t because it could be hurtful. The purpose of having a funeral is to allow family and friends to say goodbye and also to express their love for the deceased and the deceased’s family.

If you aren’t going to call on the grieving family, now is the time to phone and offer your sympathy and help. There are many websites where you can pick up ideas on what to say to someone who is grieving. Just one or two of these ‘sayings’ which can help you right away are simply –

  •  I’m so sorry for your loss
  •  You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers
  •  We can all use some help at times like this, and I’m here for you

You don’t have to stress about it. Kind, sincere words, however, short will suffice, and that’s it. If you’re a particularly close friend or family member, you may feel inclined to prepare a eulogy about the deceased, and there are some excellent eulogy examples available online.

Funeral Manners -It doesn’t have to be Black

When it comes to dressing for the funeral, think of the family. You certainly don’t have to wear black by any means, but black always looks smart and dignified. But keep in mind that black is the universal colour of grieving and respect. Whatever colours you choose, make sure that your dress shows respect for the family. Smart-casual pants or skirt and attractive shirt and jacket for men and women will get a silent acknowledgement of approval from the grieving family.

Funeral Manners – Conform

Follow the traditions of the family. So even if you’re not religious and they’re having a church funeral, now is the time to quietly conform to the wishes and traditions of the grieving family.

Funeral Manners -Thank You’s

If the funeral was for a family member of yours, after the funeral, you’ll want to thank people for their input. A personal hand-written note is a refreshing change in today’s technological world. If you’ve forgotten how to write, then send an attractive thank-you email message to the funeral officiant and anyone who participated in one way or the other in acknowledgement of their help.

Funeral Manners – Reach Across the Divide

Funeral etiquette isn’t set in stone. Importantly, death is a sad period in anyone’s life, and the least you can do is to be there for the family. And with your kind words you can reach across the divide and communicate a message of compassion, caring and hope.

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