In the article Long Live Etiquette: ‘Selfies at Funerals’ on Tumblr Must Die published on the CNN news site, the author and the etiquette expert interviewed highlighted an unlikely and unbecoming activity at funerals that most people, especially the younger ones, do nowadays: taking selfies. Looking at how insensitive and clueless these people are may be a bit fun, but the article reminds everyone it’s always important to take note of the things you should be doing when attending such ceremonies. The days may have changed, but customs and etiquette are longstanding. If you feel oblivious about what to do at a funeral, here are some insights that will help you.
Don’t assume that the bereaved is relieved because they have a funeral pre-planning arrangement or because people and donations keep coming in. The provision of security, finances, and the presence of people are not an absolute validation of consolation. You might as well say something. But even those with the purest intentions might say something improper that will just damage relationships.
What you need to do is just the basics. Communicate your consolation by mentioning the good qualities of the deceased. For instance: “I was sad to hear about what happened. His helpful gestures always inspired me.” Don’t give comments that attempt to minimize losses, such as “Look at the brighter side.” Never ever attempt to say something that gives the bereaved an impression that you know what they’re actually going through. Don’t say “It’s alright. Things will be better soon.”
You may encounter phrases “in lieu of flowers, please send donation to…” while reading obituaries. If the bereaved have requested memorial donations to a particular charity or cause, you need to do this within the days of the service. When the charity or the cause is not indicated, you may send your donation to the church of the family or the deceased’s school or university. In case you know the cause of death, you may send your help to a charity advocating to fight the disease. When handing donations to family, you should do it with discretion to save the family from embarrassment or to prevent them from feeling obliged to return the favor.
Bereavement and Social Media
Whether you like it or not, social media has changed the way people deal with death and grief. It’s alright to communicate the demise of someone through the Internet, but you have to choose the right words. With regard to the introduction, never post selfies or any remark that the bereaved may deem inappropriate and insensitive.
Although funeral customs may vary from place to place, these basics are enough to help you behave when attending such services. One better way to extend your sympathy to the bereaved is to be with them the moment you hear the news. In case you’re an immediate relative or close friend, help them arrange the funeral and never leave them until the last day of the service.