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Funeral Etiquette 101 - Cell Phones, Condolence Calls, Attire, What is Proper & Appropriate and What's Not?

Updated on May 30, 2016
At one time or another we all have to attend a funeral, but do you know the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior?  Photo by : Fylkesarkivet i Sogn og
At one time or another we all have to attend a funeral, but do you know the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior? Photo by : Fylkesarkivet i Sogn og | Source

The Downfall of Manners and Civilization

The death of my father two weeks ago and my attendance this past weekend at his wake and his funeral service, have left behind some pretty disturbing impressions about how lax we have become about things like respect, proper etiquette, and plain old fashioned good manners. From the relative who had, before my father's body had even been removed from the room, begun to point out to me which pieces of furniture from his bedroom suite she would like to have; To the fussy toddler, who was put down on the floor during the viewing and left to run around with virtually no parental supervision; To the relative who arrived three-quarters of an hour late, disrupted the service, and then marched with her entourage of three others up the center aisle of the chapel to the casket during a moment of silent prayer and reflection; To the attendee who not only answered their phone during the graveside service, but continued their discussion, at a volume loud enough to compete with the pastor, throughout the presentation of the flag and the reciting of the 23rd psalm; I witnessed behavior that would have made Miss Manners hair stand on end, and left me pondering whether or not some of us have become so self-involved that we are becoming incapable of deciphering the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior?

"I don't want to sound old fashioned or outdated, but I can't help wondering if my grandmother might not have been right when she said that "with the downfall of good manners, will come the downfall of civilization ," I said to my best-girlfriend late Saturday night as we were cleaning up the last remnants of the after funeral gathering at my house.

"I know," she replied, "people don't seem to care about that sort of thing anymore. When we were kids, our moms cooked casseroles and brought them to the family. When my uncle died a few months ago, I was the only one who brought food to the house. if we don't teach our children any different, than it is only going to get worse."

I went to bed thinking about what my friend had said. When I woke up the next morning, I was thinking that maybe it wasn’t just our children who were in need of an education in manners and etiquette, perhaps some adults were in need of a refresher course as well..

Glossary of Funeral Related Terms

Eulogy
Usually delivered by a family member, a close friend, or a member of the clergy, the Eulogy is a speech or written piece that reflects upon the life and personality of the deceased.
Funeral Procession/Cortege
The procession of friends and relatives from the funeral home or place of worship to the graveside. Often accompanied by a police escort.
Funeral Service
A service of remembrance held either at a place of worship, or at a funeral home, with the deceased present. Rituals will vary according to religious denomintation
Honorary Pall Bearers
Honorary escorts who walk along side the pallbearers and are not actively involved in carrying the casket. Often used in the funerals of the those who had been active in politics, business, church or civic circles, and usually a relative, close friend, church member or business associate of the deceased.
Mass Cards
Especially prevalent in Roman Catholic Families, a Mass card is a card that is sent to the family of the deceased to inform them that the sender has arranged for a Mass to be said in the memory of their loved one.
Memorial Donations
A contribution to a specific cause or charity made in honor or memory of the deceased, usually in lieu of flowers.
Memorial Service
A service of remembrance held without the body present, it usually takes place in a funeral home or place of worship. Is sometimes referred to as a Celebration of Life.
Military Funeral Honors
Graveside ceremony of an American Armed Forces Veteran to honor their service to their country. Military Funeral Honors include an Honor Guard of at least two active duty service members, and includes the folding of and the presentation of the flag to the next of kin, and the playing of "Taps" by a bugler. In some cases the ceremony may be performed by the members of the local VFW or American Legion, and may also include a 21 Gun Salute.
Obituary
The notice of a person's death, usually found in the newspaper, and most often including a short biographical account and the notation of survivors. It often times includes the place and time of the viewing and the funeral or memorial service.
Pallbearers
A member of the escort or honor guard who helps to carry the coffin of the deceased; Usually a relative, close friend, church member, or business associate of the deceased.
Private Service
A service held either at a place of worship, a funeral home, or graveside, where attendance is by invitation only.
Sympathy Cards
A greeting card, sent to the family of the deceased, which expresses sympathy and lets the family know that they are in the thoughts others.
Viewing/Wake
A vigil held over the body of the deceased the night before the burial, it usually coincides with the visitation, and provides an opportunity for the friends, associates and extended family members to pay their last respects, and to visit with the family.
Visitation
A designated time for friends and acquaintances to offer condolences and pay their last respects to the family. Usually at the funeral home or mortuary, and usually coinciding with the viewing or wake.

To Call or Not to Call? The Guidelines for Condolence Calls

A condolence call is simply a visit to the home of the family of the deceased by a close friend, neighbor, or extended family member to offer comfort, sympathy and assistance. A condolence visit may take place at any time within the first few weeks following the death of a loved one, and based upon circumstance, and the nature of the visitors relationship to the family, may also be followed up with an additional visit or visits. The length of the visit may vary anywhere from one to several hours, and the criteria for determining that length should be based upon the visitors relationship with the family, or the needs of the family in mourning.

How May I Help You?

Whether a loved one passes suddenly, or following a long and drawn out illness, their passing leaves in its wake a multitude of tasks and details that must be seen to. When these tasks are combined with grief and every day activities, the family member may feel overwhelmed. There are many small ways in which your help would be readily accepted and appreciated.

You might offer to put together a PowerPoint presentation of family pictures to be played at the funeral or memorial service, run an errand, or make phone calls. Maybe you could offer to watch their children so that they would be free to make arrangements, offer to walk their dog, pick up their dry cleaning, or mow and water their lawn. A family that is grieving and trying to deal with funeral arrangements may not be thinking about eating or preparing meals, and so one way that you can assist the family is to prepare a meal that can be frozen and re-heated at a later time. Casseroles, or other foods that offer large portions or servings, and require little to no preparation are best. If the family is to have a gathering post-funeral, then you may want to offer to bring something for that

Another really helpful gesture would be to offer to stay back from the funeral and watch any children whose parents have decided are too young to attend the service.

What is Not Appropriate


· Inquiring About the Cause of Death; If the family wants you to know, then they will tell you, but it is in extremely bad to taste to walk up to a grieving widow, spouse, or other family members and ask them how their loved one died.

· Inquiring as to What Monies and or Assets the Deceased May or May Not Have Left Behind; It is not appropriate in ANY social setting to inquire about one’s personal finances. Enough said.

· Inquiring as to What Has Been Bequeathed To Who; Again, if they want you to know, they will inform you. If you are a person who might be a beneficiary of the deceased, or who believes that the deceased may have left something of sentiment to you, be patient, I am sure that you will be notified at the proper time, and rest assured, during a condolence call, IS NOT the right time.

· Requesting That You Be Allowed to Take a "Keepsake" of the Deceased From The Home; No, I am unfortunately not kidding. I have personally witnessed incidents in which both friends and extended family members of the dearly departed loved one have wandered through the home of the family during a condolence call eyeing every knick-knack and family photo as though they were shopping in Ikea; (during a condolence call following the death of my own grandmother, the daughter of my grandmother's longtime friend, asked to be allowed to take all four shelves of my grandmother's miniature clown collection, most of which had been given to my grandmother as gifts from her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and assuming that she could have them, asked a flabbergasted me for a box to pack them in, as she began right then and there to pack up not only the clowns, but the four hanging glass shelves on which they sat!) Please remember that this is someone's home and not your local Wal-Mart!

· Answering Your Cell Phone in the Presence of the Bereaved; If you must answer, then please remember to excuse yourself and step outside, and even then try to remember that you are there to offer comfort and support to the family, and try to keep your call short.

· Texting, FaceBook, Tweeting, Games Just like answering your cell phone, texting, updating your social networking status, and playing games on your cell phone are not appropriate activities during a condolence call. Try to remember that you are there to offer comfort and assistance to the grieving family, and keep your focus on them.

What Is Appropriate

· Expressing your sympathy; Whether verbally or by way of sympathy card or hand written note, it is appropriate during a condolence call to express your sympathy and offer comfort to the bereaved.

· Sharing Your Memories of The Deceased; It is appropriate to relate your memories of the deceased to his or her family. Try telling them a funny antidote, or relating a story that highlights the deceased's personality.

· Offering Your Help or Assistance; It is appropriate to offer help and assistance at this time; Along with suggestions I've mentioned above, you may want to offer to set up for the post-funeral gathering or to clean up afterwards. When my mother died, our home was under construction, and so my god-parents offered to have the gathering in their home.

· Bring a Gift of Food; It is appropriate to bring a prepared meal or maybe a cake or cookies or other snack food that can be shared with other callers. The family of the deceased should not have to worry about entertaining those who are calling on them.(If possible, you may want to coordinate with others who will be making condolence calls, and perhaps someone could bring paper plates, plastic silverware, or napkins, which would also spare the family from worrying about dishes and clean up.)

· Bringing Flowers, Plants,or Other Expressions of Your Gifts That Convey Your Support or Sympathy; Although most people wait until the viewing or the funeral, it is appropriate to send or bring flowers or a live plant, or another gift to the family that conveys your support. (Perhaps a special photo that you would like to share, or a Mass Card, etc.)

· Offering a Sympathetic Ear or A Shoulder to Cry On; It is appropriate and most appreciated, to offer a sympathetic ear, a hug, or a shoulder to cry on, as In some cases the family members of the deceased just need someone to listen to their memories or their expression of grief.

My father's recent passing along with the behavior exhibited by some during his viewing and funeral have led me to ask, have we come so far away from traditional values that we can no longer differentiate between what is and is not appropriate?
My father's recent passing along with the behavior exhibited by some during his viewing and funeral have led me to ask, have we come so far away from traditional values that we can no longer differentiate between what is and is not appropriate? | Source

Viewing or Wake? Negotiating the Visitation

Whether you refer to it as a viewing, a wake, or a visitation, when someone dies, there is often a scheduled period of time prior to the funeral service where friends and family are invited to pay their last respects, view the body of the deceased, and pay their condolences to the family. It is a tradition that stems from the tradition of the old Irish Wake, when the deceased were laid out at home, and then family members, friends, and neighbors would come to the family home to view the body, comfort the family, and say some good things about the departed before carrying him off to the graveyard. Now days of course, this is usually done at the mortuary or funeral home, and for the most part it is known as a viewing and visitation. In either case, it is usually held the day and evening before the funeral is to take place. If there has been an obituary placed in the local newspaper, it may give the dates and the times of both the viewing and the funeral.

The viewing and visitation is a good time for co-workers, associates, church members, etc., to pay their respects not only to the deceased, but also to the family. This is especially true if you are someone who perhaps only knew the decedent through work, or through a social organization, but did not know the family very well.

The viewing is a somber and quiet event, and is meant for silent prayer and reflection on the life of the departed. In some cases the family of the deceased may wish to escort you to the casket to view their loved one.

What is Not Appropriate

  • Cell Phones; Just as with the condolence call, it is not appropriate to answer your cell phone inside the viewing room. It is also not appropriate for your the ringing of your phone to disrupt the prayers or meditations of others. Please turn off your ringer prior to entering, or if you are able, don't bring it into the room in the first place.
  • Texting, Facebook, Tweeting, Games; Same rules still apply for game playing, texting, and updating social networking status; Do it somewhere else please!
  • Children at Viewing and Visitation; While I believe that deciding whether or not one's children should be included should be left to the discretion of the parents of said child, I also believe that parents should be responsible for the behavior of the children should they choose to allow them to attend. Some of this is just common sense and old fashioned good-manners; If your baby is screaming, then please take him or her outside until they are through so as not to disturb the prayers and meditations of others. If you have a toddler, please do not put them down in the middle of the viewing room, and leave them to wander around without parental supervision, and please do not allow them to interrupt the prayers and meditations of others. No matter your child's age, if they are attending the viewing and visitation, for the sake of the family you are visiting as well as other families who might be there, please discourage them from running up and down hallways hooting and hollering and making a general nuisance of themselves

What is Appropriate

  • Appropriate Attire; Over the last few decades the guidelines for what is and what is not appropriate apparel for events such as viewings and funerals have been greatly relaxed, men are no longer required to wear ties or suit jackets, women and girls can wear pants, and no one is required to wear black; this said however, one should try to exercise common sense and good taste. For instance, bathing suits and flip-flops are probably best suited for the beach or pool, and not for a viewing.
  • Expressing Your Sympathy to the Family; When attending a viewing and visitation it is appropriate to express your sympathy to the family and to relate fond memories of the deceased to them. If you are not someone that the family has seen frequently, please be sure that when you approach them to offer condolences that you introduce yourself, and that you tell them how you know the deceased.
  • Paying Your Last Respects; It is customary at a viewing that, if the casket is open, you pay your last respects by viewing the body of the deceased; In some cases, a member of the family may wish to escort you to the casket. You may use this time to say a silent prayer or to meditate about the deceased. If the family wishes it, you may say a prayer for the deceased with a member, or members, of the family.
  • Leaving Something in the Casket of the Deceased; - Many times when someone passes, we wish to leave a note, picture, or other item in the casket for them as an expression of our grief or in appreciation of their life. If you are not a family member, but wish to leave something, you should consult the family before doing so.
  • Visiting With Others Who Are Attending The Viewing; Once you have viewed the body of the deceased, and have visited with the family, It is appropriate to visit quietly outside of the viewing room with other friends, colleagues, or neighbors who are attending the viewing.

Source

The Funeral - Avoiding Funeral Faux Pas

No one really wants to go to a funeral, they just aren't fun; But just about everyone has to attend at least one or two in their lifetime. A funeral is a service of remembrance that is held either in a house of worship, or at a funeral home. Except in cases where the family has requested a private burial, it is often followed by a graveside service and the burial. While the funeral of a loved one is a sad and somber affair, it does have many beneficial aspects for the family and friends of the deceased, such as allowing for closure and for an outlet of their grief. The standard funeral will include a eulogy, a sermon or message, and one last opportunity for the mourners to pay their last respects. The casket of the deceased is usually carried by six to eight pallbearers from the church to the hearse and from the hearse to the grave site. Rituals will vary according to religious beliefs and denominational differences.

What is Not Appropriate

  • Cell Phones; Just as they are not appropriate during a condolence call or at a viewing, a ringing cell phone is not appropriate at a funeral. Answering and talking on your cell phone during a funeral is also not appropriate, and just in case it isn't clear to some of you, it is not appropriate to pull your ringing cell phone out of your bra and have a conversation during the graveside or burial service, it is just plain rude and disrespectful!
  • Texting, Facebook, Tweeting, Games; A funeral is a service of remembrance, it is a sacred affair and usually a religious one as well. It is meant to be a time of prayer and reflection and so no, you should not be texting, playing a game, or updating your social network status during a funeral.
  • Talking During the Service; Talking to your neighbor, or to the old friend across the aisle who you haven't seen in a year, while someone is being eulogized, or while the clergyman is speaking, or during a moment of silent prayer is not appropriate. You should have been taught in kindergarten that it is rude to speak while someone else is talking.
  • Cutting in Front of the Immediate Family During the Cortege or Funeral Procession; In everything in life there is an order to things, and in the realm of the Cortege or funeral procession, the hearse which is carrying the deceased is followed by the car or cars that are carrying the immediate family. Be patient and wait your turn.
  • Cutting in Front of the Immediate Family for the Procession to the Grave Site; The immediate family is supposed to be directly behind the casket as it is being carried to the grave site. It is absolutely inappropriate to cut in front of the immediate family during the procession to the grave site.
  • Sitting in the Front Row of Chairs at the Grave Site; Usually the funeral home or the cemetery personnel have placed a small grouping of chairs at the grave site for members of the family of the deceased to sit in during he graveside ceremony, it is inappropriate for you to sit in the first row of chairs if you are not a member of the immediate family, unless you have been asked to by the family.

What is Appropriate

  • Appropriate Funeral Attire; While it is true that the standards for appropriate funeral attire have been relaxed in recent years and unless forbidden for religious reasons, women may wear slacks and a blouse instead of the traditional skirt or dress. Men no longer are required to wear a tie and jacket. Apparel should be modest, in muted tones or dark colors, and should be clean and without holes. Flip-flops should be avoided because not only are they too casual, but the noise that they make when one walks might be disturbing or offensive to other mourners.
  • Flowers, Plants, Memorial Gifts; Often times the family will ask that instead of sending flowers, that you send a memorial gift. A memorial gift is usually a donation to a specific charity or research organization. If you do send a donation in the name of the deceased, the organization that you made the contribution to will usually send a card to the family informing them of the gift that has been made in the name of the deceased. If you wish to send flowers, a plant, as a gesture of respect for the deceased, you may send it either to the home of the family of the deceased, or you may have it delivered to the mortuary or church where the funeral is to take place. It is also acceptable to bring your gift to funeral, but if you are going to do that, you should arrive a bit earlier so that the flowers can be placed at the alter without disrupting the service
  • Expressing Sympathy to the Family of the Deceased: Just as with the condolence call and the viewing and visitation, you should express your sympathies to the family of the deceased, remembering to introduce yourself if you are an acquaintance of the deceased and not of the family.


© 2011 Kristen Burns-Darling

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    • profile image

      Sharon 9 months ago

      Thanks for this, it's exactly what I thought was appropriate. My father passed in July 2016. 4 hours after he passed his brother and sister in law came possession hunting. Then at the cremation my delightful aunt kept asking about the flowers which I said to leave but she took them home, followed by making my fathers funeral more about her which was noted by several guests and the fact my uncle looked like it was a inconvenience for him to be at his own brothers funeral. All I thought was incredibly rude and inappropriate behaviour

    • profile image

      Paul 9 months ago

      Normally, where do parents in law sit at funeral of daughter in law's father's funeral? In crowd or with family?

    • profile image

      Snookie Dalrymple 20 months ago

      I NEED to know if it still a bad thing to wear red to a funeral, it is a grandparent.

    • kiddiecreations profile image

      N Kiddie 21 months ago

      Thank you for sharing your knowledge on what is appropriate at funerals and condolence calls, etc. I am attending my Great Aunt's funeral on Sunday and after reading your article, I think I will ask my cousin if I should bring a dish to the reception. You have some very good insights here.

    • Jack Hagan profile image

      Jack Hagan 2 years ago from New York

      Excellent share. I think the info presented by you here will be enough for anyone who wants to know about the things to do and things not to do at a funeral. I personally know a lot of people who don't wish to be at a funeral because they are afraid of being there.

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      Johnd166 2 years ago

      very nice submit, i definitely love this website, keep on it feefadddebak

    • arrangingafuneral profile image

      Tony 4 years ago from London

      Customs can differ, and traditional funeral etiquette often dictates a formal, restrained behaviour. It is important to show respect, take your lead from the chief mourners and remain dignified throughout the service.

    • profile image

      Mickey G., Los Angeles, CA 4 years ago

      My cousin, a photographer, did it again today. While sitting in a church pew at a funeral, she took a picture and posted it on Facebook. (The last time it was Twitter.) She is so ill-mannered, that if I tell her how gauche her behavior is, she will think I'm being silly. I just hope and pray she dies before I do. Else she'll be at my funeral snapping and Tweeting photos.

    • K. Burns Darling profile image
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      Kristen Burns-Darling 4 years ago from Orange County, California

      @Spongyollama - First, I apologize for my delay in responding to your welcomed and deeply appreciated comments, I am only just returning from an extended break from my computer and hp for some much needed personal reflection and r&r. While I believe that you may be right about some customs becoming stale or going out of style, I surely hope that showing the proper respect for either the dead or the living, never becomes one of them. Thank you again for the gift of your time and for your comments.

      Kristen

    • Spongy0llama profile image

      Jake Brannen 4 years ago from Canada

      Wow, excellent overview. It's good to see people paying such close attention to codes of etiquette. Some small things like hat tipping and specific eating utensil usage are for me a bit stale and out-dated, but when it comes to serious matters, like conduct during a funeral service, there can be no shortage of etiquette instruction. I am frankly appalled to hear what sort of behavior you have witnessed on such a solemn occasion! I take a certain satisfaction in the popularity of this hub. I hope a lot of people learned a valuable lesson.

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      Cathy Miller 4 years ago

      Hi, thank you so much for the kind and comforting words. You have gave me a few tools that i will think about and will be use to guide me through life. I really appreciate your suggestions. I'll keep reading some condolence messages to relieve my pain.

      http://obituarieshelp.org/words_of_condolences_hub...

    • K. Burns Darling profile image
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      Kristen Burns-Darling 4 years ago from Orange County, California

      @talfonso - I am in absolute agreement with you on this subject; children are by far more adaptable than most adults, and more so than they are usually given credit for. If you prepare a child before hand, and the subject is handled without hysteria, most children won't be traumatized, but will instead learn that, although it is a very sad time, it is a part of life. Thank you for your time, your comments, and your support, they are all very welcome and deeply appreciated. I will be looking forward to reading your hub.

      Thanks again,

      Kristen

    • talfonso profile image

      talfonso 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL

      First of all, I'm not only very sorry for your loss, but also very sorry for any disturbances at his funeral. I love the quote, "No matter your child's age, if they are attending the viewing and visitation, for the sake of the family you are visiting as well as other families who might be there, please discourage them from running up and down hallways hooting and hollering and making a general nuisance of themselves."

      Parents should really prepare kids for what is really expected at the funeral, but it goes far beyond behavior. They should tell them that the body looks like it's sleeping, but it's not because all of their body stopped working. That's before having them attend a wake, especially an open casket one. The reason kids are traumatized by the site of Dad or Mom in a casket is because they are not prepared.

      Thanks for taking the time to write this.

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 4 years ago from Orange County, California

      @Constance - I apologize for the delay in this response, but when I first read your post, I was unsure of how to answer it. I had my own thoughts you see, but not a real concrete answer about the etiquette or protocol of your particular situation, so I had some research to do. And after three days, one of them being an all-day hunt for the answer..... I still had no answer. This topic, (at least to the best of my knowledge) has never been broached. (at least in any arena that I could find), It has not been covered by Emily Post, Miss Manners, Dear Abby, or any of the other advice or etiquette gurus. It is also not, (again, as best I can tell), covered in any print or digital publication of manners and etiquette. Google held no answers, and neither did Ask.com; Bing; Yahoo, etc. After three days, I still had no answer for you other than my own gut feeling, but nothing concrete. Still seeking an answer for you, I decided to put it before a jury of my peers and posted your question, as a question, on Hub Pages; it as a question, and later that day, for good measure, I posted it again to WebAnswers.com. I received two very well-articulated answers; both of which pretty much mirrored my own thoughts on the subject. (Should you care to read the answers in their entirety, I have included the links to both pages below) So in answer to your question of whether you and or your family should contact the family of the man whose death resulted from a car accident in which your father in law was involved; I would have to say that, Yes, contacting the family would be not only the proper ,right, and kind thing to do. The family of the man who was killed is grieving, the words “I’m sorry for your loss,” or “I/we are grieving for you.” may make all the difference in the world.

      The best time to do this would be, as soon as possible. If this happened a while ago, remember that there is no statute of limitations on grief, and it is never too late to tell someone that you care.

      As for the best way to do this; that would, depend upon the relationship between your family and the man who was killed. I don’t know the particulars of your situation, so this is just a general guideline based on the opinions of those who responded to my questions and me;

      If you and or your family were friends of the deceased or with his family before the accident; you would of course want pay them a personal visit so that you could comfort them and cry with them and share their grief. This is a natural reaction, as it is what friends and family do, and I wouldn’t rule out a personal visit in this case; under the circumstances however, I think that you should seek their permission, either by telephone or perhaps by hand written note, to do so first.

      If, before the accident, this man and his family were total strangers, then I would have to say that you should definitely not approach them in person until after you have been given permission. Because it might shock them to hear from someone who was involved in the accident that caused their loved ones death, I would ask a third party, someone who is not directly related or involved in this situation, to phone the family seeking permission to call or to visit, or I would send a hand-written letter in which I would express your families grief over their loss, and ask them if it was alright to call on them personally. Then leave the timing of that visit up to them. This family is grieving and in pain. Be prepared for the fact that they may hold your father in law, and by extension, you and your family, responsible for the death of their loved one; or they may lash out because their family member died, but your father in law did not. If their grief is new, and still raw, they may not be prepared to see you yet; possibly never; or that they will have questions concerning the accident that they want answered.

      I have to say, that in a world where people so often avoid friends and family members who are grieving because they fear the awkwardness, or they “don’t know what to say.” To want to face this family and express your family’s grief over this tragedy is absolutely a courageous and right thing to do.

      I thank you for the gift of your time and for your question; and I hope that my answer has helped you during this very difficult time.

      Kristen

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      Constance 4 years ago

      Hello I a needing help regarding a very upsetting situation. My father in Law was in a car accident that caused a man on a motorcycle to die. Should we contact the family with our condolenses? Our family is heart broken that this happened and we dont want to hurt family anymore but we dont want them to think we are not grieving for them. I dont know what to do.

    • K. Burns Darling profile image
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      Kristen Burns-Darling 4 years ago from Orange County, California

      @Chris Neslow - Thank you for the gift of your time and for your comments, they are both welcomed and appreciated. It is certainly within the rules of etiquette for you and your brothers to have brought your significant others to a your aunt's funeral. In fact, it isn't at all uncommon for a husband, wife, or significant other to attend the funeral or wake of someone that they didn't know, or with whom they were merely acquaintances, to offer support to their spouse or partner. This can also be said of close or long-term friends; For example, when my grandfather passed away in 1998, even though I was, (and still am), married, I asked my two closest life-long friends to please sit with the family, one of those friends is female, and the other is male. Both grew up with me. Both had relationships with my grandparents, both are considered by me ot be my closest friends. People who are grieving often seek comfort and support from old friends of either gender. I don't know the particulars of your relationship of course, wheter you are in a long term realtionship, a new relationship, or if you are practically engaged, but in any of those cases, it is also not entirely uncommon for someone, sometimes even when two people are married, for either half of a relationship to attend a funeral or wake without the other. Funerals are not generally somethng for which an actual invitations sent out, and many people might not think to "invite" their significant other to the funeral of an old freind's grandmother. It is entirely within the rules of ettiquette for a significant other to offer to attend, as a show of support for their partner of spouse, in fact, it is downright thoughtful. Thanks again,

      Kristen

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      Chris Neslow 4 years ago

      I hope this is relevant, but my Aunt passed away months ago and I had my girlfriend sit with me and my family, my three brothers had their girlfriends sitting with us as well. Just recently one of my girlfriend's guy friend's grandma passed away and he ask her to sit with the family and she is going to. I wasn't even asked to go, should I be worried that they are more than friends??

      -Thank you and God bless.

    • K. Burns Darling profile image
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      Kristen Burns-Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California

      @Queixa - Thank you for the gift of your time, your comments, and your thoughtfulness, they are all sincerely welcomed, and deeply appreciated. While I agree with you that to have people just randomly whip out their cell phones and start clicking away or begin taking video, is without a doubt a breach of etiquette and shows a complete lack of respect for the family who is in mourning; I am not completely sure how I feel about the actual taking of a photograph itself, if it is done discreetly, with respect for both the departed, and the family, and absolutely done only after having received the PERMISSION of the family of the descedent. I personally do not like the idea of having a post-mortem photograph of my loved one lying around, and although I did snap a number of of photographs at my dad's funeral, (all of the photos in this article, except for initial black and white at the top were taken by me at my father's funeral). I didn't take any of him in his casket. That said; people grieve in different ways, and I know that my father himself took a photo of his brother, my Uncle Gene , during Uncle Gene's viewing. For my father, who was very close to his older brother, and because he passed suddenly didn't get to say good-bye, I think that it may have been a coping mechanism that gave him some measure of comfort.; but let me stress once again, that as a matter of protocol, this should ABSOLUTELY not be done without the consent of the family; and rest assured that I will be includeing this point in my next update of this hub. Thanks again,

      Kristen

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      Queixa 5 years ago

      Thank you for your excellent guide to funeral etiquette, and I too offer my condolences on your loss. Although time has passed, I know that the loneliness never passes.

      I comment to suggest an addition to your list of inappropriate behavior. Although I would have thought this would have been obvious as inappropriate, while dealing with the grief of our father's passing, we also had to deal with the absolute nightmarish horror of informing people that it was ABSOLUTELY completely inappropriate to the point of sacrilege for them to be taking out their cell phones and attempting to TAKE A PHOTOGRAPH of our dearly departed in his casket!

      No words for the horror of this. No way to express how shocked, appalled, horrified, mortified we were. Please do what you can to prevent others from having to endure this horrific, ghoulish breach of etiquette.

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California

      @J.Crowley - While there is no "set in stone" rule for this, there is a protocol and tradition that (in my opinon) is just plain old-fashioned good manners, and is basically the same as the protocol for the receiving of the flag of fallen soldier or a veteran who is buried with military honors. If the soldier or veteran is not married, or is preceded in death by their spouse, then the flag is received by his/her parents. If that soldier is survived by their spouse, then the flag is received by the spouse. If both of the parents and the spouse are deceased, then the flag is received by the oldest living child of that soldier. If the parents, and the spouse are deceased, and there are no living children the next if line are siblings, following the same track, the oldest living niece or nephew and so on and so forth. It is generally understood that prefrence goes to the widow or widower. In the case of a minor child or if the decedent is not married, preference of course goes to the parents followed by the siblings. In the case of someone who is not married, but who had a life-partner, proper etiquette and good manners dictate that the same consideration that would be granted to a spouse should be extended to the partner. I hope that this is helpful to you. Thank you for the gift of your time and for your comments here, they are both welcomed and deeply appreciated.

      Kristen

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      J. Crowley 5 years ago

      When to a funeral of one of my closest friends husbands who had passed away from cancer. She had been married to him for 26 years and had basically made sure she was treated well by his family. His sister and mother have already started in by saying they should receive the plants from specific senders. I always was taught that the spouse received any flowers and plants and then if they wanted to offer the other family members one, it was appropriate. Out of about 30 plants she received one. The sister and mother felt they should get the plants and flowers before his wife of 26 years. Cant find funeral etiquette that addresses this. His wife took the cards off the plants so that she could send thank you cards, and you would have thought she was stealing the plants.....just thought the spouse received all the plants and flowers and then if they wanted to, to give plants to family members. But at the spouses descretion. Is this not right?

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California

      @LauraGT - I have been away from my computer and from hp for several days and so I apologize for the delayed response to your comments here. I am sorry for your loss, and hope that you found that those attending the wake and funeral were better behaved than those who were present for my father's. Thank you for the gift of your time and your comments, they are both welcome and appreciated.

      Kristen

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      LauraGT 5 years ago from MA

      Thank you for this thorough and informative hub. I have the misfortune of attending a wake this afternoon. While much of this is common sense, it is good to have the reminder and reinforcement about proper behavior.

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California

      @nina64 - Thank you for the generosity of your time, your kindness, and your comments, they are both welcomed and deeply appreciated. I just don't know what has happened to us as a society that there is this lack of consideration for the feelings of others, especially during a time of mourning....As you said, hopefully one day we will find our way back. Thanks again,

      Kristen

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      nina64 5 years ago from chicago, Illinois

      I would like to extend my deepest sympathy for the loss of your father. What a timely hub. Thank you for such a well written article on such a sacred topic. You hit the nail right on the head. A funeral is a homegoing service for our loved ones that should be treated with the utmost respect. I have been to some funeral services that were a complete disaster to say the least. It just made me hold my head down in shame to see how some people carry on. Hopefully, one day our society will get back to the basics of learning proper funeral etiquette. Be blessed.

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @gottaloveit - I couldn't agree with you more, society has forgotten its manners, and we are that much worse for it. I had an odd moment of mixed confusion and pride when I realized that my teenagers and their friends were some of the most well behaved people at my father's funeral. They had better manners and followed proper etiquette better than some people who were more than twice their age! My 17 year old actually felt compelled to pull one of his aunts off to the side because she was making such a scene, and ask her politely and quietly to please remember that the funeral was about his grandfather, and her father, and not her. It didn't work, but I was proud, and somewhat stunned that he made the effort. Thank you so very much for your kindness, the gift of your time, and for your generous comments, they are all welcomed and very deeply appreciated.

      Kristen

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      gottaloveit 6 years ago from MD

      You and I must be twin sisters of different mothers as I could have written this article - albeit, not nearly as well or politically correct. I find it abominable how society has forgotten their manners - from opening doors for the elderly to give up a seat on the subway to someone who needs it more.

      I'm so sorry for the loss of your father. As the caregiver to my elderly mom, and one who lost her own father 5 years ago, I feel your pain.

      You've written an article that should be required reading.

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @feenix - I am not sure about some of the other's mamas, but this mama has taught her children well, and I am oddly both proud and a little bit perplexed to say that my teenagers and their friends who attended my dad's funeral were some of the best behaved people there. The sound of flip flops coming up the aisle of the church during a moment of silence and reflection were most distressing and too much for my sense of decorum! At least there are a few of us left who were taught right from wrong, maybe between us we can keep the civilized world from perishing all together.

      Thank you so much for the gift of your time and your gracious comments, they are both welcomed and appreciated.

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      feenix 6 years ago

      Hello, K. Burns Darling,

      Thank you for writing and publishing this timely and very important post.

      I recently attended a funeral and was shocked by some of the attire I saw. Some of the men were wearing short pants and some of the women were wearing spaghetti-strap summer dresses and flip-flops.

      And yes, cell phones were going off all over the place.

      Ain't anybody's mamas teaching them good manners anymore?

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @Karoline - Thank you so much for the generosity of your time, and your comments, they are welcomed and deeply appreciated.

      Kristen

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      Karoline 6 years ago

      I very much like writing an article which teaches us how to behave to a situation like this.

      4x4 Costa Rica

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @Andy - I am so sorry for your loss, losing a parent is such a very sad time. I know what you are talking about when it comes down to the funeral service becoming more of a revival...A lot of my dad's service was centered on helping his grandchildren get through this, my father was a Marine, and taught my middle child the Marine Corp Hymn when she was four, so she and two of her friends sang the Marine Corp Hymn, and my son and his best friend put together a beautiful PowerPoint tribute to my dad. We did have a call to the altar at the end, but it was a very small part of his service. Thank you so much for you kindness, the generosity of your time, and for your comments, they are all very much welcomed and appreciated.

      Kristen

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @Edwinoel Tanglao - Thank you so much for your kindness, the generosity of your time and for your comments, they are all welcomed and deeply appreciated.

      Kristen

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      Andy 6 years ago

      This was a great article. I wish people could have seen it before my father passed away in January of this year. Many of the things you mentioned, I witnessed myself. At my fathers funeral, and at the other two funerals I have attended this year, I have noticed that the funeral itself isn't conducted like the funerals I've been to in the past. At all the other funerals I've been to (quite alot I hate to say), the pastor talked about the deceased mostly. But the three funerals I've been to this year, if it hadn't been for the casket, you would have thought you were at a revival meeting. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I believe the funeral should be about the deceased and to help the family cope with the loss. But on the other hand, if my death can help bring someone to the lord, then I don't mind having a revival.

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      Edwinoel Tanglao 6 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      My prayer are with you on your loss, K. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this very informative hub. I also lost one twin son and a father. I so much believe in the power of prayers as in John 15:7, Jesus said, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Even for our dearly departed, God listens to us when we are in Christ. And with the love that we have for them, God listens in Christ, his mercy and forgiveness outpours as his love endures forever. Often times, I offer mass cards or prayer petitions with priests, nuns and the laity helping pray, and with our spirit being one with Christ in solemn prayer, God listens, through Christ our Lord and Savior, who is the atoning sacrifice for all our sins, in his greatness and ever loving heart, he "speaks to the Father in our defense," as in 1 John 2:1-6.

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @ktrapp - It is said that truth is stranger than fiction, and I've seen cell phones used in a lot of places that were inappropriate or just down right rude, but I never in a million years thought that I would be writing about one of my own family members talking on their cell phone,during my father's funeral...Sad but true. Thank you for the generosity of your time and your comments, they are both welcomed and appreciated.

      Kristen

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      Kristin Trapp 6 years ago from Illinois

      This hub made me think, "Well, I thought I've heard it all.." This is always a tough subject. I have not been to a lot of funerals in my life - a few for grandparents, one for a 3-year old and one for a mother with young kids. I cannot imagine if people used cell phones or other technology during calling hours or the funeral. How awful that would be!

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      Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Self-preservation. Yes, sadly, sometimes there is no other way. Been there, done that. ;D

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @FloraBreenRobison - Sometimes it becomes a matter of self-preservation, and there really is not other choice. I am sorry that it had to come to that, but sometimes there is just no other way.

      Thanks for commenting

      Kristen

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      love my yorkies - Thank you so much for your kindness, the generosity of your time, and your comments, they are always welcome and deeply appreciated. The lack of manners and etiquette today is very disturbing to me, and people and cell phones are the worst. I have two teenagers and a four year old, and often I leave my phone on silent in my purse or pocket during meetings, movies, and I confess, church, funerals and weddings, but only if my children are elsewhere and not with me. That said, I would never answer it in any of these places, I won't even answer it at the table when out to lunch or dinner with friends or family, unless it is one of the kids or the sitter, but even then, I excuse myself and go outside....It really comes down to a matter of common decency and common sense. Thanks again,

      Kristen

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      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      I have split from family members who were only causing me pain as well.

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @Jo_Goldsmith11 - Thank you so much for your kind words and your prayers, they are deeply appreciated. In spite of the fact that they are family, I have also decided to cut my losses and no longer speak to those who disrupted my father's service and attempted to turn it into a three ring circus. Thank you again for the generosity of your time, and your gracious comments!

      Kristen

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      love my yorkies 6 years ago from way out west

      My sympathies at the loss of your father. Sending out a virtual hug to you. I agree completely with everything you said in this hub, and I have had my own bad experiences with inappropriate behavior at funerals. People just don't seem to care anymore about respect and proper behavior, of course I've seen a lot of things happen at weddings too that just makes me want to go over to the guilty person and slap them silly! I mean, really, is there any phone call so important that it can't wait thru a funeral or a wedding to be answered. oh well, this is a BIG pet peeve of mine so best to not get me started.

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      Jo_Goldsmith11 6 years ago

      I would like to offer you my deepest and heartfelt sympathies for your loss. I send you a hug as comfort and I say a prayer that you will find peace. I am sure that your dad has been promoted to Angel. I think it is appalling that some folks can be so crude of other’s pain. I had a similar untactful and very inappropriate situation happen at my sister’s and mother’s funeral years back. I no longer speak to those who treated the funeral like their local K-mart. God Bless you!

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      cheerfulnuts 6 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      @JamaGenee: Thanks so much for your concern. I was young back then. Although I felt that it was wrong, I knew nothing about funeral etiquette that time. I've never liked those relatives. I hope that such things wouldn't happen again.

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @Sandyksk - You are welcome.

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      Sandy Jauregui 6 years ago from Sanger

      Thank you.

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @cheerfulnuts - Their behavior was not only unacceptable, but was also incredibly thoughtless! I am so very sorry that you and your family had to endure that behavior at such a sad time. Perhaps by the will of those who,like yourself, are willing to make the effort to educate their children and pass these lessons on to the next generation, we can change the current path that we are on. Thank you for the generosity of your time, your kindness, and your comments, they are all welcomed and deeply appreciated

      Kristen

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @Hashirraja - Thank you so much for the generosity of your time and your comments, they are both welcomed and appreciated.

      Kristen

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @Jkern - My father had three great loves in his life, (not counting my sister, myself, or his grandchildren), They were, my mother, my step-mother, and the United States Marine Corp. He was seventeen when he entered MCRD in April of 1951, and he was buried with full military honors sixty years later. He credited the Corp. for making him into a man. My sixteen year old daughter sang the Marine Corp Hymn at his funeral, because he taught it to her before she could walk, and she began kindergarten in a DOD school, (My husband is US Navy, (ret.)) of mostly Navy children, the only five year old who could sing the Marine Corp Hymn. If he were here, he would tell you, "there is no such thing as a former Marine." To him, though you are a stranger, you would have been brethren. It is absolutely true that children only practice what they are taught, and so if our children are not taught to behave appropriately, they no only will not themselves, they will also be unable to pass that knowledge to the next generation. Thank you so much for the generosity of your time, your gracious comments, your thoughtfulness, and your service, they are each of them welcomed and deeply appreciated. Semper Fidelis!

      Kristen

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @KateWest - Thank you for the generosity of your time, your comment, and your kindness, they are all welcomed and deeply appreciated.

      Kristen

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @lisa.bom - I am so terribly sorry that your family is going through such a difficult time right now, and I sympathize with your dilemma, people being unable to put their phones down for two seconds was also an issue when my dad was under hospice and in the hospital. Thank you so much for the generosity of your time, and for your comments, they are both welcomed and deeply appreciated.

      Kristen

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @akune - Thank you so much for the generosity of your time, and for your comments, they are both welcomed and appreciated.

      Kristen

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @prektjr.dc - It is my feeling as well, that we are less and less passing on this information to the next generation, which leads me to wonder where we will be in twenty-five years? Thank you so much for your kind words, the gift of your time, and your gracious comments, they are all both welcomed and very much appreciated.

      Kristen

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @wannabwestern - Thank you for your gracious comments, your kind words, and the generosity of your time, all of which are welcomed and deeply appreciated. I am glad that you found this piece both informative and helpful. Thanks again,

      Kristen

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @Sinea Pies - I am so sorry for your recent losses. I lost my own mother when I was 11, and truly believe that no matter your age, the loss of ones mother is a devastating blow, but even more so for a daughter. Thank you so much for your kindness, the generosity of your time, and for your comments, they are all welcomed and deeply appreciated.

      Kristen

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @femmeflashpoint - It is true, I have seen the erosion of manners and thoughtfulness myself,just in the time between my mother's death in 1978 and my father's death 32 years later, and I know for a fact that you are right, sometimes it is driven by pure thoughtlessness and lack of consideration. Thank you so much for your kindness, the gift of your time, and for the graciousness of your comments, they are all truly welcomed and deeply appreciated.

      Kristen

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @randomcreative - Thank you so much for your kindness, the generosity of your time, and for your comments, all of which are both welcomed and deeply appreciated. With you and others of like mind, perhaps my grandmother's prediction of the fall of civilization will not happen after all.

      Thanks again,

      Kristen

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @FloraBreenRobinson - I was so horrified by that person's behavior that I couldn't think straight, but now that you mentioned it, throwing their phone would have given me great satisfaction. I think that wearing a favorite color of the deceased, especially when the deceased is a child, is a very nice gesture. Thank you for the generosity of your time and for your comments, they are both welcomed and appreciated.

      Kristen

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @Victoria Lynn - Thank you so much for your kindness. It is a most definitely true that when people behave in such an inappropriate manner, it does make a very sad situation that much worse. Thank you for the generosity of your time, and for your gracious comments, they are both welcomed, and deeply appreciated.

      Kristen

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      Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      @cheerfulnuts, I can't imagine anyone could be so crass and insensitive to bring birthday party invites to a wake, but the "scene" was already "made", so even if you didn't want to make it worse, someone else should've taken the clod aside and given her a refresher course in funeral etiquette. Or simply asked her and her darlings to leave. She obviously wasn't there out of respect for the two deceased relatives or the feelings of the rest of the family.

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      cheerfulnuts 6 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      I'm sorry for your loss. Some people can really be rude and inconsiderate.

      A decade ago, I lost two of my relatives due to a fire incident. One of my relatives had brought their kids to the wake. While I was trying to hold back my tears, those relatives started giving out birthday invitations to us. They told us not to miss their daughter's birthday party that was going to take place soon. I was very angry, but I just kept quiet. Everyone was upset, and I didn't want to make it worse by making a scene.

      Thanks for sharing this hub. I will teach these things to my children in the future so they wouldn't turn out "uncivilized."

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @Arlene V. Poma - Everyone has to mourn in their own way. I experienced a lot of that insincere mourning when my mother passed away, ( I was eleven), and vowed not to have it again at my father's funeral, and to that end, I didn't make a big deal out of informing people who really didn't matter in my dad's life, the neighbors and people who claimed my parents as friends, but who hadn't bothered to inquire as to his health in the last five years while I was caring for him, but did whisper loudly behind my back that I was there for less than honorable reasons, etc. Instead of my mother's SRO funeral, I chose to invite only those who really knew my father, of course there are some people, especially family members, whom you just cannot get away from and must be endured. My seventeen year old son and his best friend, created that cheesy PowerPoint presentation that you mentioned and it was a beautiful tribute to a man that my son loved very much. My sixteen year old daughter and her two best girl friends, sang the Marine Corp Hymn (all three girls are members of their high school show choir, so they weren't flat or off key) which my father taught my daughter before she could walk, another fitting tribute by a young woman who was once the child whom we called my father's "constant companion," she also loved this man very much. I gave my father's eulogy, and my step-mother spoke eloquently about their life together and how much she would miss this man whom she knew to be her soul mate. At the graveside service, my father was escorted by military escort to his final resting place, something he earned with his sacrifice and service to this country, there was a 21 gun salute and his flag was presented to me and to my family. Something that he also earned. When it was over, yes, some people did come back to my home for that free meal, but in return, they shared their stories of my dad, their memories, and I shared mine, and we shed some more tears, and we laughed quite a bit, and because I chose to keep things small, there was nothing but love in the air. You may want to avoid a service and all, and that is fine, it is your choice, but what of those whom you've left behind? The truth is that the funeral service, the viewing, the burial, those aren't really for the deceased, they are for the living who need to say good-bye to have closure, and an outlet for their grief. Thank you for the generosity of your time, your kindness, and your thought provoking comments, they are all welcomed and deeply appreciated.

      Kristen

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @Eaglekiwi - My father always taught us that life is for the living and that life must go on. Funerals aren't really for the deceased as much as they are for the survivors, who need comfort and closure, and an outlet for their grief. It isn't so much about telling people how to mourn as much as it is about telling people how to respect those who are mourning. Thank you so much for the generosity of your time, your kindness, and your comments, they are all both welcomed and appreciated.

      Kristen

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @laura143- My sympathies on the loss of your grandfather. The selfish and and narcissistic behavior of others only serves to make the grieving process more painful for those who are in mourning. Thank your so much for the generosity of your time, your kindness, and the graciousness of your comments, they are all both welcomed and appreciated.

      Kristen

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      Hashirraja 6 years ago from Dhaka, Bangladesh.

      Hmm, really great post I think

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @J.S.Matthew - Thank you so much for your kindness, the generosity of your time, and the graciousness of your comments, they are all both welcomed and deeply appreciated. Selfishness, greed, narcissism, all of these things seem to play into the way that people behave in these situations....A long way from the values I was brought up to believe in. Thanks again.

      Kristen

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @sunflowerbucky- I have to agree with you, what we once thought of as "common knowledge" does not appear to be so common anymore. Thank you so very much for the generosity of your time, your kindness, and your comments, they are all welcomed and very appreciated.

      Kristen

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @DzyMsLizzy - Thank you so much for your kindness. It does seem to me that progress in the realm of technology is not necessarily a good thing. I often leave my cell phone on silent in my pocket or in my purse, usually because of my children, but I don't answer it in a meeting, in a movie theater, at a table, and most certainly not at a funeral. In any of those cases, were I too glance at it and see that it was one of my children or my sitter (my youngest is 4) I would certainly excuse myself and answer it elsewhere. I agree with you that sometimes it is like preaching to the choir, but hopefully there are enough of us in the choir, that good manners and etiquette will not become a "dead" art. Thank you so much for the generosity of your time, and for your gracious comments, they are both welcomed and deeply appreciated.

      Kristen

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @Violet - It is so sad that so many children are not taught proper etiquette and basic good manners anymore, and that they grow up into adults who don't know how to behave in public. Thank you for the generosity of your time, and your comments, they are both welcomed and appreciated.

      Kristen

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @Slightly Bonkers - It is both a shocking and sad commentary on the state of civilization.... Thank you so much for the generosity of your time, your kindness, and your comments, they are all welcomed and deeply appreciated.

      Kristen

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      Jkern 6 years ago

      My condolences ma'am. It infuriates me to no end to the fact that people today are less considerate than years before. As a 29 year old former Marine, I get more and more angry to the lack of thoughtfulness in parents instruction. I would love to take some of them through the boot camp I went through in 2000. Great post! Best wishes to you and your family! P.S. I saw one of your pictures and I hope I was not mistaken to see a Marine Corps ensign next to your fathers casket. Semper Fidelis to you! My salute to your father!

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      KateWest 6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Peace to you and yours.

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      lisa.bom 6 years ago

      Thank you so much for this hub. I am going to send it to all of my family members. My sister-law is in hospice care. I have already had to mention to them about visiting and using their phones the entire time. I am so sorry you had to witness these things. I hope you find comfort in knowing you are helping so many people.

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      akune 6 years ago from Surrey, England, United Kingdom

      Like the others, I thank you for sharing this hub and helping so many. I have a personal reason for bookmarking this. Bless you.

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      Debbie Carey 6 years ago from Riverton, KS, USA

      Kristen,

      I am so sorry for your loss and for the rudeness of others during this time for you. I agree that the loss of manners is a great loss of civil behavior at large. It is so frustrating to see how very inconsiderate the public have become.

      Your hub was very informative and a good one to recommend to those who are inexperienced with funerals. I really like your setting forth the definitions of those terms. We so often assume that others know what we are talking about, but we are not necessarily passing that information on anymore. May God bless you with peace during this time.

    • K. Burns Darling profile image
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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @Leanne1783 - I am so sorry for your loss, your grandmother must have passed at about the same time as my dad. I sympathize with you, it is such a difficult time made only more difficult by the insensitivity of others. Thank you so much for your kindness, the generosity of your time and for your comments, they are all welcomed and deeply appreciated.

      Kristen

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      Carolyn Augustine 6 years ago from The Land of Tractors

      I was deeply impressed by the way that you turned a time of deep sorrow and an incident that caused you upset into such a positive. Please accept my condolences at this time as well.

      Thank you for sharing such informative and concrete guidelines for helping people through loss. Not only did you explain how to behave with a sense of proper decorum at a time of loss, but you also went the extra mile in describing how to aid others during the funeral and gave concrete ideas for serving and offering sincere condolences.

      I haven't been to many funerals but I'm probably one of the many who needed these practical guidelines. Thank you so much. I plan to share this with my friends.

    • Sinea Pies profile image

      Sinea Pies 6 years ago from Northeastern United States

      This is so well done. Both my mom and my mother-in-law passed this year. Though people did follow these guidelines, for which I am grateful, I can imagine many of these inappropriate things happening these days.

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      femmeflashpoint 6 years ago

      I graduated from mortuary school over twenty years ago, and have spent 16 years in the business. I left it for several years after my mother died, and stepped back into it six years ago. During the time I've spent working services, visitations, wakes and attending to families, I've seen manners nearly dissolve in comparison to what was exhibited only two decades ago.

      It's very sad, and makes it so difficult for the immediate family, as well as loved ones who are close to them, and truly have their best interest at heart.

      Often I chalk it up to ignorance. But, unfortunately, just as often I can see that it isn't that. Many people simply don't care about the negative effect they're having on the survivors.

      For all my experience and knowledge of this field, I couldn't have come close to putting together a more needed and more informative article than you did here.

      I'm very sorry that you experienced so many negatives when you lost your dad. The loss alone is heartbreaking enough to contend with. I lost mine two years ago, and my heart goes out to you.

      I hope many have the opportunity to read this. Ignorance, at least, can be diminished.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I'm so sorry to hear about your father. I'm sorry to hear that so many people exhibited such poor behavior during the funeral and the events around it. I'm fortunate to have not had to attend a lot of funerals in my life, but given the lack of etiquette in our society today, sadly it doesn't surprise me. Thanks for taking the time to spell everything out. Some of us do still appreciate the appropriate gestures. The least that I can do is pass on this knowledge the best that I can to my own kids someday.

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      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      I've yet to attend a funeral where most of the issues have happened. One example of when then family didn't want black to be worn is when my choir friend lost her son in a tractor accident. The family was dutch and Scott loved orange so they asked people to wear orange. Those of us in the choir were the only ones wearing black-our uniform-and there was a sea of orange in the church.

      I'm sorry that you had to put up with this behaviour at the funeral/services. I would have stopped the service, gone over to the person on the cell phone taken it and thrown it.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I can see why you were selected for the hub of the day. You are right on in your appropriate and inappropriate categories. It's amazing to me the rudeness of people. I'm sorry you lost your father. You and anyone else in mourning shouldn't have to put up with the insensitivity of other people. Hopefully, your hub will find its way to others who really NEED to read it. Great hub. Voted UP, useful, and awesome.

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      Arlene V. Poma 6 years ago

      I am sorry for your loss, K. I lost my father back in 1999, and I think about him all of the time.

      Unfortunately, everything you mentioned about the unacceptable behavior of others during a funeral or a memorial service is so true. I have attended enough funerals and memorial services in my lifetime, so I don't care to witness the circus. I have decided not to go to another funeral or memorial service. I don't even want one when I die. I have choices. I can either take time and remember the deceased. I can remember them and carry on--be a good person here on Earth since they are no longer with me. I will let them go, but also know they are no longer suffering or in pain. I have come to hate the drama which comes with the "mourners" who are not really mourning. They are only coming to the service to gossip, have a free meal, socialize with people they have not seen in years or check out the goods left behind. No, I do not want to sit through a cheesy Powerpoint presentation with photographs and a corny theme song in the background. I don't care for the crying or the widow draping herself over the coffin. When my time comes, scatter my ashes over my rosebushes in the front yard and call it a day. I don't want the mourners who make fools of themselves until the next funeral or memorial service. They are an insult to the dead as well as the living.

    • Eaglekiwi profile image

      Eaglekiwi 6 years ago from -Oceania

      Excellant hub! and excellant because it is only the white culture that is uncomfortable with death ( generalising).

      Having said that there is not right way to farewell a loved one ,except of course to the individual.

      Its funny isn't it that we allow society to dictate such a final ceremony.

      I hope my kids and loved one do whatever the hell the want too,whatever helps them!

      Thankyou.

    • K. Burns Darling profile image
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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      Thank you for the generosity of your time, and your comments, they are both welcomed and appreciated. I agree with you, as in my family, we were taught that death is a part of life, and although never forced into going to viewings or funerals, I was always offered the option. My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's related dementia, and I was his primary caregiver for the last five years of his life, as such, I moved my family home to my hometown, and into my childhood home in 2006, my youngest child, was born, in May of 2007, a little over a year before dad's diagnosis of Alzheimer's (Originally I moved back to take care of him because he was a fall risk, and as such they were trying to make him move into an assisted living facility, which he did not want to do.) Keeping my dad at home meant that my children interacted with him daily, daughter, now four years old, never knew a day of her life without him in it, and has always known that he was sick, and that he would one day die, and as she likes to put it, "go to live with my grandma-who-is-an-angel-in-heaven." My father died at home, and Jami was there when he died, and she chose to go in with her older sister and I to say good-bye to him before the mortuary came to get him. She also chose not to attend the viewing or the funeral....Her four year old reasoning being that she had already said good-bye to him, and that (in her words), "grandpa isn't there anymore, he has gone to live with my-grandma-who-is-an-angel-in-heaven." My belief is that the parent of the child in question should be the one to determine whether or not the said child should attend the viewing or funeral, (in our house we let the children decide), but that if the children do attend, then the parents should be responsible for their behavior. At my father's viewing, a one year old nephew was placed on top of my father's chest inside of the casket, which I thought to be uncalled for, and that same one year old was put down in the viewing room and left to wander about, disturbing others, without parental supervision. At a viewing down the hall, a group of older children were left to run up and down the hallway of the mortuary, hooting and hollering, and disturbing not only those at the viewing from which they came, but other families as well. In our family, we too put items into the casket, my father was buried with not only one of my son's baseball gloves, but his most recent game ball on which he had thanked his grandfather for inspiring him to play baseball to begin with, my daughter's pillow pet, that she always lent to him during long hospital stays, pictures drawn for him by my youngest daughter, photographs, a can of his favorite Chai Tea, letters from myself, my husband, my step-mother, and several friends, his cane, and his favorite hat, and we encouraged other's to do the same, even offering stationary and pens at the viewing. I simply said that in cases where you are not a family member, and may not know how that family feels, what their belief's are, or where there may be a religious objection, that it is inappropriate to do so without seeking permission or having permission offered. I believe in having keepsakes as much as the next person, and yes, people love to have something to hold on to, but really it isn't at all appropriate to ask for them during a condolence call, and really and truly, if you are not a family member or close friend, it isn't appropriate to ask at all. Having to decide to give possessions away prior to being ready to part with them, is not a nice alternative to having people "shop" your home for keepsakes. Especially when it is a behavior that shouldn't be practiced in the first place. Thanks again for your insightful and thought provoking comments!

      Kristen

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      bryteyedgemini 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thank you, while I disagree with some of the comments, it is about time someone brought this up. I have never known a child to be traumatized by a viewing, I went to them myself, it helped me understand what death was, and that is important, in fact I think it is a very healthy experience, only I think children should be taught what to expect and what will be expected of them, and parents of toddlers and younger should have enough respect for others to leave when they get fussy or distractive or find a sitter. Also, in my family it is customary to leave things in the casket of the deceased, who are you to say how close someone felt to a departed friend, co-worker or relitive? That is actually a problem I have seen in my extended family, one will say that another had no business being their or it was not their place to leave something, I feel that is just wrong, no one knows what is in another's heart. No, people should not even bring cell phones to a funeral or wake, much less answer them, especially without even the courtesy to leave so that others may reflect and say their good byes in peace. As for the wolves decending to fight over and claim things, it bothers me a ton, I cannot express how wrong that is, however, as far as feeling the need to take a small trinket, in my family, that is customary, in fact after my grandfathers funeral my grandmother had a table full of small tokens that had meaning to him and that may have meaning to others which she encouraged people to pick through, I thought this was a positive alternitive to having people look through her home as you said "like it is a walmart" everyone wants something physical to hold onto, it is part of the healing process.

    • laura143 profile image

      laura143 6 years ago from United States

      My sympathies on the passing of your father. And thank you for this well-written and timely hub. I observed many of the same behaviors-- people coming late, grubbing for the deceased person's belongings, etc.-- last fall when my grandfather died, and it was truly disheartening. Another common etiquette faux pas that I would add is the attitude of some relatives who may not have felt close to the deceased: "Well, I didn't know him/her very well, so I'm not coming to the funeral." I actually heard a relative of mine say something to this effect and it was really hurtful to me and to my other family members. When a relative or family friend dies, paying one's respects has little to do with how well you knew them or how close you felt to them-- it is about just that, paying one's respects, and also being there to show your support and love for the family of that person, who DID feel close to them. It seems to me that if neighbors and acquaintances are bringing food and calling on the family, the very least relatives can do is take an hour or two out of their busy day to show up to the funeral.

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I am sorry to hear about your loss. You raise some awesome points that people should consider when attending these services. It amazes me that people can be so selfish and inconsiderate to the grieving family. I also like the glossary of terms you added! Great Hub and congratulations on being selected for the Hub of the Day!

      JSMatthew~

    • sunflowerbucky profile image

      sunflowerbucky 6 years ago from Small Town, USA

      I'm so sorry for the loss of your father, and even sorrier that you had to bear witness to such rude behavior. It is sad that we even need to be reminded of these things that should be common sense. Thank you, for doing so, however, as it appears common sense is no longer very common. Voted up and useful!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 6 years ago from Oakley, CA

      This hub showed up on the entry page "slideshow," and I am a new visitor to your writings.

      I must begin by also extending my deepest sympathy and condolences on the loss of your father. I've been there myself; I know how painful the process is on so many levels.

      But, my goodness! What an awful combination of experiences you were "treated" to in the realm of rude behavior!

      It astonishes me how very self-centered people have become, and so attached to their cell phones that the feel they cannot live without the thing. It is the new 'god,' I fear--the Almighty Cell Phone! At a funeral (or a wedding either) is indeed the worst possible place to be using this device. Even so, it seems to be coming more commonplace, and I do not understand.

      I would go a step further, and say not only "don't answer the thing, or put it on silent" but turn it ALL THE WAY OFF, or leave it in the car's glovebox!! They DO come with voicemail--you can catch up with whomever it was later, at an appropriate time!

      Even in the grocery store, there are people walking around shopping and talking. WHAT is so all-fired important that it cannot wait until you either get home or leave the store?!! BCP (Before Cell Phones), people interacted on a much more considerate level with each other. I wrote a hub on manners myself a few months back--it must speak to where we've come that it's one of my lowest-traffic pieces. Your grandmother was correct, and a very wise woman. With such topics, we seem to be preaching to the choir; those to whom the lesson is addressed don't seem to feel it is aimed at them, or worse, that they are exempt. (Perhaps you should e-mail the miscreants the link to your hub!) ;-)

      My husband holds a Master's in Social Science..and often states, "It amazes me daily that we survive as a species!" I see his point. These rude folks are also with us driving down the roadways. And I have noted that most laws are created to substitute for two traits formerly thought to be "common:" sense, and decency.

      Again, my condolences, and I agree with you at least 1000%. Voted up, useful, and awesome!

    • Slightly Bonkers profile image

      Slightly Bonkers 6 years ago from Ireland

      I am very sorry for your loss and the experiences you have made. I have edited my previous comment but it did not go through :(

      Reading through your article I thankfully have to say that I only seen this sort of behaviour in movies and hope it stays like this...

    • Violet profile image

      Violet 6 years ago from United Kingdom, I'm British

      Sorry to read of your loss.

      Great hub, very informative. These days people really do need to be told as they do not seem to learn basic skills like respect and manners.

    • Slightly Bonkers profile image

      Slightly Bonkers 6 years ago from Ireland

      Hi, its a great article, bravo. But funeral or not it simply shocks me that manners seem to be an "oldfashioned" thing these days or even just a simple "cop-on" on how to behave respectful in certain situations. Its very poor that these days churches have to have a "no-mobile" sign on their doors. I am not going to mass that often but seing this on a little local church made me really wonder....

    • Leanne1783 profile image

      Leanne1783 6 years ago from Bradford, United Kingdom

      I am sorry to hear of your loss, it must be a very difficult time for yourself and your family.

      My Grandmother died almost a month ago and this hub brought back some memories of my Grandma's funeral that even at the time made me think how inappropriate some people's behaviour and attitude was. For one after my Grandma was buried it was a time of reflection and memories of my Grandma. I wanted that moment, but all I have is a family member talking at the back about their new job and how much money they would be making. I was shocked that someone could be so inappropriate along with a family friend that dressed in a shirt un-tucked with jeans, what ever happened to Sunday best?

      Thanks for a great hub, and congratulations for your hub of the day!

    • K. Burns Darling profile image
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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @Faithful Daughter - Thank you so very much for your kindness and your prayers, they are deeply appreciated. I completely understand what you are saying and am experiencing that in my own life now as, because someone in my life is so worried that she will be cheated out of her inheritance, she is making this time of grief so much worse than it has to be. I truly wish that everyone would stop worrying about what they are going to get when someone dies and give back the love and respect that they were shown during that person's life time by trying to act with a bit of decency and decorum. Thank you so much for the generosity of your time, and your comments, which are so appreciated!

      Kristen

    • K. Burns Darling profile image
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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @mommytalks - Thank you so very much for your kindness, and may I also say that I am very sorry for the recent loss of your mother. I lost mine at the age of eleven, and know from experience how deeply that cut goes, especially for a daughter. I too remember the insincerity of those who attended the wake and funeral of my mother, I think the younger you are the easier it is to spot it.... I had family members from my mother's family, who said to me at the wake, "don't worry, you are not alone, you have family," who I didn't see or hear from again for over 20 years, until the death of my grandmother (my mother's mother). It was this memory that sparked me to not make a big deal out of notifying some neighbors and "friends" of my parents, who hadn't in the past five years bothered to inquire about my father's health, even though they lived within walking distance. I preferred the idea of a smaller service with people in attendance who actually knew and cared about my father, to that of the SRO funeral of my mother, where there was so much insincere grief. When my mother died, my god-parents, who lived next door, hosted the wake after the funeral, because our home was under remodeling construction, and it was my god-mother who organized everything, and it was my god-mother who took me to the grave when my mother's headstone was placed, (my father, to the best of my knowledge never returned to the cemetery after my mother's funeral, because as he told me so often, she wasn't there.) When my mother died 32 years ago, people brought more food than my father, sister and I could eat; when my father died, it was only my two closest friends, and one neighbor who brought food. I don't think the song played on the guitar by the neighbor was cheesy, I think it was sweet, and knowing that your mother would like it that much makes it a fitting tribute. My father, a very proud United States Marine, taught my daughter the Marine Corp Hymn, she was the only kindergartner who began school knowing all the verses....She and two of her girlfriends sang the Marine Corp Hymn at my dad's funeral, He would have loved that. Thank you again for the generosity of your time and your comments, they are so very welcomed and appreciated.

      Kristen

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @Purple Perl- Thank you so much for the generosity of your time, your kindness, and your gracious comments, they are all so very welcome and deeply appreciated.

      Kristen

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @Molly Kathleen - Thank you for the generosity of your time, your kindness, and your comments, they are all welcomed and deeply appreciated. As long as there are so many out there, like yourself, that realize the heart of the matter, then I am sure that we have a chance to turn it all around, and perhaps avoid my grandmother's grim prediction. Thank- you again!

      Kristen

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      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      @JamaGenee - I was eleven when my mother passed, and my dad gave me permission to wear "whatever you think Mommy would like to see you in." So I wore the pretty white sundress with the yellow flowers on it that she had made for me that previous summer. (Yellow chrysanthemums were her favorite flower, yellow for the color of hope, and chrysanthemums because she said that their fluffy rag-top appearance always made her think of them as the clowns of the flower world, which made them cheerful and made her smile.)In my family, we too celebrate the life of those who have passed, and try to keep the perspective that grief is ours, not theirs. My father taught us that death is a part of life, and that life is for the living and must go on, to that end, I have always attempted to keep the histrionics to a minimum, and to remember to laugh through the tears. An attitude that I feel is much more healthy than the alternative. Cell phones at the luncheon, or wake following the funeral are perfectly appropriate, but I still feel that people should use common sense, and excusing oneself from a table to answer their phone, isn't just appropriate at a funeral, but also appropriate when out to dinner or luncheon with friends and family members on any given day. In the case of the relative who was busy telling me which pieces of my parent's bedroom suite (it had belonged to them both when my mother was alive), she would like to have, before my father's body had yet to be removed; This happened in my father's home, my childhood home, and as my father's primary caregiver for the past five years, the home of myself and my family. Making it, in my eyes, somewhat akin to your example where of the living spouse in the home that they shared, right down to the child who hadn't spent much time with the parent (in this case my sibling who had only bothered to see her father 7 minutes out of the last three weeks of his life), being the one to want to cart stuff away. When someone is cremated, (and both of my mother's parents were), there is usually a memorial service, and either a service for the burial or spreading of the ashes, and I have even seen viewing and visitations done, with the deceased being cremated after the viewing, or in some cases before hand, and so no matter the state of the body of the deceased, the same rules of etiquette would certainly apply. Thank-you so much for your kindness, the generosity of your time, and your thought provoking comments, they are all welcomed and deeply appreciated!

      Kristen