Funeral Etiquette

Hispanic Funeral Traditions

July 20th, 2011

The funeral traditions of the Spanish-speaking cultures are similar, but have many differences and variations from each other. For the purpose of this article, we are generalizing the similarities of customs rooted in Hispanic cultures to give you a brief description of what to expect at a Hispanic Funeral.

Hispanic Funeral Traditions Are Primarily Catholic

Because of the how deeply-rooted Catholicism is in Hispanic heritages, even non-Catholics include Catholic traditions in their funerals.

The Hispanic culture accepts death as part of life. It is the end of the life in the flesh, and a beginning of the life in spirit. Catholic Hispanics celebrate one’s death, because the soul is going “home” once the body has died. The funeral process doesn’t begin after death, but before one passes.

  • Whenever the situation allows, the funeral process begins on the death-bed. A priest will give the dying person their Last Rites, which consist of confession (if possible), communion and pastoral blessing.
  • A family member will stay with the body of the deceased until the preparations begin for the funeral services.
  • A traditional Hispanic Funeral will consist of 3-4 days of services and vigils to honor and pray for the departed soul.
  • A Catholic Priest will lead the services for the funeral. Starting with the wake.

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Traditional Asian Funeral Etiquette

July 16th, 2011

Asian Funeral with Alter

Funeral customs vary greatly in the Asian culture.  The following article refers mostly to traditional Chinese funeral customs.  

If you are attending an Asian Funeral, there are a few rules of etiquette that are very important to follow. The burial process of someone who has passed is taken very seriously in Chinese society. Asian culture teaches that someone who is buried without the proper funeral customs will bring bad luck and disaster to the family. Cremation among traditional Asians is very rare.

Asian culture uses beauty and respect throughout their funeral services. Every detail is covered and has special meaning behind it. The traditions they use have been passed from generation to generation to make the end-of-life transition more beautiful.

What To Expect When Attending An Asian Funeral

The funeral process and rites are based on how traditional the family is, as well as age, social status, and marital status.

Tradition teaches that an elder is not to show respect to someone who is younger. So, if the funeral is for a younger person, their body cannot be brought home (as is custom for an older person). This also goes for an infant or child. The services will be held at the funeral parlor, in a way similar to western funerals.  Since no respect can be shown, there are no vigils, prayers or offerings made, the service and burial will be made in silence.

Wake or Viewing at An Asian Funeral

Traditional Asian funerals will be held at the home of the deceased. If the death occurred inside the home, the casket and service will be held inside. If the death occurred outside of the home, the casket and service will be in a courtyard near the home. Wreaths, flowers and a picture of the deceased will sit on top of the coffin.

Traditional funerals last for 49 days, with the first 7 being the most important. However, if the family doesn’t have the financial means, the funeral will last 3-5 days with the first day being the most significant.
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What To Expect At A Funeral

July 10th, 2011

Funerals are always a difficult and emotional occasion. Many people get nervous or anxious when attending a funeral. There are some basic principles when it comes to one’s behavior and etiquette throughout the funeral process.

Condolence Visits

If you are a close friend or family member of the deceased, it is proper to pay a visit to the home of the family members before the funeral, to offer your help and share fond memories.

Before a Wake

A wake is a time when family and close friends come together before a funeral to spend time in remembrance of the deceased. Many people will offer to bring food, watch children, clean house or help with any of the planning.

Expressing Your Sympathy

Sending flowers to the church, funeral home or the family’s home is a well-known way of expressing your sympathy. When words can’t say it, flowers will show it.

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What to Wear to a Funeral

June 28th, 2011

Many people feel anxious about attending a funeral: knowing what to wear, what to say and how to respectfully express sympathy to the grieving. You want to feel comfortable and relaxed when attending a funeral, not anxious about your clothing. Here are some basic guidelines for what to wear:

Funeral attire is traditionally all black, but dark or muted colors are also acceptable. Business attire, such as a dress or suit is sufficient for most funerals.

Women’s Attire at a Funeral

  • Most women wear a dress or skirt to a funeral, although dress slacks are usually suitable. Shoulders should be covered, especially if the service is in a place of worship. Think practical when planning your wardrobe for a funeral. Consider the weather, the place and the type of funeral. Wear comfortable shoes and jacket if needed.
  • The colors need to be professional and conservative. Black, grey, navy or neutral are safe. You don’t want to draw attention to yourself.

Men’s Attire at a Funeral

  • Men generally wear suits when attending a funeral. Black is best, however, grey and navy are also acceptable with a white shirt and tie.

Children’s Attire at a Funeral

The rules aren’t so rigid when it comes to children.

  • Little boys should wear dark colors, preferably a suit. Try to avoid jeans, tennis shoes or casual attire.
  • Little Girls can wear dresses or skirts in dark or neutral colors.

How to Create a Meaningful Eulogy

June 22nd, 2011

What is a Eulogy?

A eulogy is a heartfelt, good-bye tribute to honor and celebrate the life of the deceased. This tribute addresses not only to the person who has died, but to the friends and family that have gathered at the service.

Man Giving A Eulogy At A Military FuneralA Eulogy Includes:

  • An introduction to the person’s life
  • Details, such as family, friends, interests, passions, likes and dislikes
  • Significant memories and achievements of the deceased
  • Scriptures, poetry and favorite stories written or enjoyed by the deceased are commonly read

It does not have to be perfect, the most touching and meaningful eulogies come from the heart. Eulogies are not a biography, rather a loving and heartfelt speech that expresses the feelings and experiences shared between the person giving it and the deceased. Remember, whatever you write and deliver in the eulogy will be appreciated by the people in attendance.

How To Write A Eulogy

1.) Recall memories: Think about the relationship you shared, where you met, what you did together, humorous or touching memories and what you will miss the most.

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Funeral Etiquette – Knowing What to Say

June 9th, 2011

Worrying about what to say and how to act at a funeral only adds more stress to an already emotional time. When it comes to expressing your sympathy and condolences at a funeral keep it sincere, heartfelt and simple.

Words of Sympathy

Words of sympathy are expressions of love and empathy for the grieving. When attending a funeral, it is best to address the family member of the deceased with a few kind words of sympathy.

The nature of your relationship with the family will dictate how much, or little you should say. If you are not familiar with the family, offer a small, heartfelt  sentiment such as:

  • I am so sorry for your loss
  • You are in my thoughts and prayers
  • I am just a phone call away
  • I have no words to express my sympathy, just know that I care
  • I am here for you

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Thank You Notes After A Funeral

May 26th, 2011

Funeral Thank You CardAcknowledging expressions of sympathy from your family and friends is more than proper funeral etiquette. For many, these thank you notes are a comforting part of the healing process to gain closure during a difficult time.

Although it is not necessary to send thank you notes to everyone who attends the funeral service, it is important to express your gratitude to those who do something special.

Sympathy Tribute Examples:

  • Someone who sends or brings flowers
  • Someone who makes a memorial donation
  • Someone who helps the family financially
  • Someone who helps provide food, transportation, baby sits or assists you in any way
  • The Pallbearers
  • The Clergy

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