We’ve all been there. That moment at a funeral where someone does something inappropriate and everyone cringes. Most funeral goers are well-meaning people – after all, they’re there to offer love and support to the bereaved. But it’s important to be educated about funeral etiquette.
A funeral really is an incredibly important moment for a family. Our team at Krause Funeral Homes works every day with our neighbors in Milwaukee, Brookfield, and New Berlin, helping them sort out the many details that come with planning a funeral. We spend so much time making it perfect, with meaningful details that tell the story of a life. No one wants to be the person who makes everyone uncomfortable and potentially causes pain or anxiety for a grieving family.
But no fear – we are here to help. Our decades of experience puts us in a unique position to give you very specific advice about what NOT to do at a funeral . . . if you want to be a good guest.
Show up late.
A good rule of thumb is to arrive at the church or funeral home about 15 minutes before the service is scheduled to begin. This allows time to greet the family and other guests and get settled in your seat. If you are running late, use a side aisle to quietly find a seat near the back so you don’t interrupt the service. After all, you don’t want to walk in and have the entire room turn to you during an emotional moment. If you’re concerned about traffic, parking, or poor road conditions, give yourself extra travel time.
Chat with those around you during the funeral service.
We’ve all been in a situation where a couple of talkative people distract everyone around them. Resist the urge to make comments while the funeral service is going on out of respect for the family and other attendees. Certainly, conversation is encouraged during a visitation or reception, when sharing stories and memories with one another are welcomed.
Use your phone.
Turn off or silence your phone completely for the duration of the service. Even a phone set to vibrate can be audible during quieter moments. Don’t take a chance – do this in your car before you even enter the funeral home. Do not text or check social media during the service. Glancing down at a phone, even for a second, can serve as a distraction to those around you. If the family sees you, they could get the impression you’re bored or disinterested. If you absolutely must send or answer a text or make a phone call, do so outside. As for photos, do not take any during the service unless the family has requested otherwise.
Share an inappropriate or long-winded story.
Many families choose to have an open microphone at the funeral or reception as a way for loved ones to tell special stories or talk about memories you had together. But this is not a time to “overshare” or go into lengthy detail. It’s also not the time to air any secrets or share things that could make the family uncomfortable. If you want to relay a long story to the family, do so in private at a later time.
The most important thing to remember is that you’re there – for a very brief moment in time – to pay tribute to the life that was lived. Stay present, stay engaged, and put the family of the deceased first.
We’ve been helping our Milwaukee neighbors for more than 80 years now and are here for you for all of your funeral and cremation related questions and needs. If you have questions about other funeral etiquette issues, don’t hesitate to reach out to us anytime.