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Funeral Etiquette - mostly Irish!

Although etiquette is now considered ‘old-fashioned’ in many quarters, here are some guidelines to respectful modern-day etiquette for a funeral.

Consider not:
  • Allowing toddlers to run around with no parental supervision;
  • Answering your mobile phone during any part of the funeral service;
  • Pointing out to the next-of-kin which of the deceased’s possessions you would like to have;
  • ‘Whispering’ loudly about the deceased during a quiet time of reflection or thought;
  • Inquiring about the will and ‘who got what’
  • Getting into a road rage when a funeral procession (hearse and accompanying cars) is passing.

Do consider: 
  • Offering help or assistance – but be specific: “I will call you tomorrow” or “I will make your dinners for this week”, etc; 
  • Paying your respects to all of the family members – they may be wearing a black cross or circle bereavement pins to identify them as grieving (; 
  • Remembering the deceased and talking about them; 
  • Going to both the removal/wake (if there is one) and/or the funeral service to pay your respects; 
  • Calling into the next-of-kin to check up on them in the weeks and months after the funeral; 
  • Sitting up near the front of the funeral home/church or other venue where the service will be held. This shows added support for the next-of-kin, close friends and family and most people avoid this area thinking there are more 'important' people coming. Trust me, you will know if you are sitting in someone's seat but more often than not, the immediate family are left isolated at the top of the church/venue.
  • Your funeral attire: Were you asked to wear a specific colour or outfit for a themed service? If not, modest clothing in muted colours is always a safe bet to avoid offense or disrespect, and if in doubt, ask someone else who will be in attendance and is close to the immediate friends and family; 
  • Doing what you feel comfortable with. Your relationship was with the deceased or their next of kin so in your heart of hearts/gut you KNOW what is approprite to respect their memory. Do it.
  • You will know what boundaries there are and, if in doubt, ask. A person grieving is STILL a person.

Jennifer Muldowney
Jennifer Muldowney