The Do's and Don't's of Funeral Behavior

"We're born. We live. We serve. We pass. From young, to old, to young. Perpetually. Eternally." - - -Anonymous
"We're born. We live. We serve. We pass. From young, to old, to young. Perpetually. Eternally." - - -Anonymous
A MINISTER WHO IS CALLED OF GOD, WILL NOT BROW-BEAT THE FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF THE DECEASED PERSON, BUT SHOW, LIKE JESUS DID, COMPASSION AND COMFORT.
A MINISTER WHO IS CALLED OF GOD, WILL NOT BROW-BEAT THE FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF THE DECEASED PERSON, BUT SHOW, LIKE JESUS DID, COMPASSION AND COMFORT.
THIS IS A HARSH PREACHER. HE FEELS THAT IT IS HIS "DUTY" TO CREATE GUILT ON THE DECEASED'S PERSON'S FRIENDS AND FAMILY IN ORDER FOR THEM TO ENTER HEAVEN. THIS, TO ME, IS INAPPROPRIATE.
THIS IS A HARSH PREACHER. HE FEELS THAT IT IS HIS "DUTY" TO CREATE GUILT ON THE DECEASED'S PERSON'S FRIENDS AND FAMILY IN ORDER FOR THEM TO ENTER HEAVEN. THIS, TO ME, IS INAPPROPRIATE.
MS. JUANITA BYNUM, IS A SPECIAL GOSPEL SINGER. SHE HAS BEEN KNOWN TO SING BEAUTIFUL SONGS OF COMFORT AT FAMOUS PEOPLE WHO HAVE PASSED AWAY.
MS. JUANITA BYNUM, IS A SPECIAL GOSPEL SINGER. SHE HAS BEEN KNOWN TO SING BEAUTIFUL SONGS OF COMFORT AT FAMOUS PEOPLE WHO HAVE PASSED AWAY.
GREIVING IS THE TOUGH AREA OF ANY FUNERAL. WHEN WE LOSE A LOVED ONE, FOR CLOSE FRIEND, IT'S VERY PROPER TO GRIEVE OUR LOSS.
GREIVING IS THE TOUGH AREA OF ANY FUNERAL. WHEN WE LOSE A LOVED ONE, FOR CLOSE FRIEND, IT'S VERY PROPER TO GRIEVE OUR LOSS.
SOME FUNERALS HAVE PICTURES OF THE DECEASED ON DISPLAY AS A GESTURE OF RESPECT FOR THE ONE WHOM HAS PASSED.
SOME FUNERALS HAVE PICTURES OF THE DECEASED ON DISPLAY AS A GESTURE OF RESPECT FOR THE ONE WHOM HAS PASSED.
PRETTY FLOWERS, BEAUTIFUL WORDS OF RESPECT, LOVE AND FAREWELL'S ARE ALL A PART OF THE FUNERAL PROCESS.
PRETTY FLOWERS, BEAUTIFUL WORDS OF RESPECT, LOVE AND FAREWELL'S ARE ALL A PART OF THE FUNERAL PROCESS.
THIS IS THE FINAL TIME THAT THE DECEASED WILL HAVE, BORN ON THE SHOULDERS OF HIS FRIENDS. IN THE UNITED STATES, THIS IS A COMMON PRACTICE OF RESPECT TO THE DECEASED.
THIS IS THE FINAL TIME THAT THE DECEASED WILL HAVE, BORN ON THE SHOULDERS OF HIS FRIENDS. IN THE UNITED STATES, THIS IS A COMMON PRACTICE OF RESPECT TO THE DECEASED.

NOTICE:

This Is A Sensitive Subject.

I just wanted to forewarn you. The subject

of funerals has always been sensitive,

stuffy, and sometimes-outdated. This hub

is being written from MY PERSONAL

experiences at funerals that I encounted

many of the occurances mentioned in this

story. And to give YOU a 'heads-up' if you

are going to attend a funeral in the future.

God forbid.

I want to be completely-serious with you

for a moment. And talk to you about a very-sensitive subject: Funerals. Yes, funerals. I didn't want to venture into the area of life and death, but I have read many of the other hubber's pieces--poems, stories, and personal views on the subject of death as well as funerals.

This, friends, is not my feeble, guinea-pig attempt to write a story about a funeral. I just want to share with you, a few personal experiences that I've had over the years when I attended the funerals of loved ones, family members, and close friends. That's it. No fanfare. No big band music. No angels flying around the room sprinkling 'happy dust' on you as you read this story.

Where I live, in the deep south, you would think that time and manners should have joined hand-in-hand to bring people I know into the 21st Century in how to act. How not to act. How to behave and be respectable at the most-sensitive event in a person's life: A funeral. But sadly, and keep in mind, this is not aimed at any group of people in the United States, but the ones who live in the deep south with me.

My first time to attend a funeral was by sheer-force. By my mother. I was eleven. Scared is not the word. But the deceased was her oldest brother, Adell Lee, whom she loved dearly, so she "suggested" that I help with the role of being a pallbearer. We all know what a pallbearer does at funerals. They help carry the casket from the hearse inside the church and when the service is over, they help carry the casket back to the hearse. You see why I was scared? I was not your top-of-the-line 'most-popular kid on the block." I was timid. Shy. Obscure. I didn't want anything to do with public events much less a funeral, but since it was my mom, how could I say no?

Uncle Adell's service went off without a bobble. Hitch. Mistake. The older pallbearers sensed how scared I was, so they covered my nervousness with their big-hearted and strong hands and arms to carry the casket from the church. Inside I was very sad at mom losing her older brother. They were very close. I guess at age eleven, it began to dawn on me that the world was not made for me. And God, our Creator, did not seek my advice in how to make the sun, moon, or planets. All the lessons in my life, mostly, I've learned the hard way. The harsh way. Because they stick with a boy. Man. Girl. Woman. That's life.

As Time Went On

and I grew older, I was a pallbearer at my dad's parents and aunt. Still, I was very uncomfortable about being an arm's length away from death. I've never, as a child, teenager, or even adult, had a healthy love for death. Has anyone? Oh, I did graduate with a petite girl named, Janet Armstrong, (her real name), whom I learned in our senior year that Janet loved to attend funerals. This fact was so unusual that our American Democracy teacher, the now-late Ruble Shotts made it a class topic for discussion--as Janet, with her stone-face stood in front of the class and delivered one of the most raging, colorful, dead-on correct oral essays about her love to attend funerals. Mr. Shotts and the entire class applauded after she had finished. To my knowledge, Janet is the person I know with 'this kind' of love.

My mom and dad, I know now, had their hands full with raising me. I came along late in their lives and I was, at most, a 'tough nut to crack,' but I did learn a few things from my parents. Things such as: being kind to old people; being nice to animals; (my mom taught me this one) always respect ALL girls and women, for they are special creations of God; social manners, including how to behave in a regular worship service, wedding and the ultimate test of social training: Funeral behavior.

It was, and I'm not pulling punches, tough. Shoe leather would be easier to chew than the part about funeral behavior. I wished many times that my parents had just forgotten that part of my childhood raising, and taught me how to tear down a 283 cubic inch, small block Chevy motor. Yeah, man. That's what I'm talking about. Grease. Oil. Grime. Fun times. No special clothing or behavior required.

But mom and dad didn't. They taught me all of the things to do and not do at their areas of social importance which were: school, church, weddings, at neighbor's homes, social get-togethers at Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Fourth of July, on the job (when I grew up) and the " mother of all grim social locales: Funerals. My parents didn't leave one manner untaught. They were always "all or nothing," in how they raised my sister and me.

So with that being said, here is a list of . . .

Things You Do Not Do At Funerals

  • Eat snacks in the audience on the evening or night of the wake. Personally, I've sat next to adults snacking out on potato chips, sandwiches, appetizer crackers like nothing was wrong. And when other grieving friends or family of the deceased would look at them, they simply grinned, wiped their mouths on their sleeves, and continued to eat.
  • Talk loud to people near the casket area. To me, loud talk belongs in a barroom, inside your home, a football game, but not a funeral. I've also seen this in action. A few good ol' boys get together in the foyer of the funeral home on night of visitation and act like they were in O'Chanusey's Bar and Grill--mouthing jokes and laughing like horses. I know. God sees our hearts. But is it impossible for (this) type of people to just be civil? Respectful? Maybe one time?
  • Talk to friends on cell phones and the conversation be heard by the grieving family and friends. And I witnessed this and it was not teenage girls and boys, but again, a non-caring adult who seemingly "just had to" yak with a friend. Disrespectful is the way I describe this guy's actions. Couldn't he just have stepped outside of the funeral home to talk about his business clients?
  • Smoking cigarettes near the entrance to the funeral home chapel. I do not want to offend. Step on toes. Make anyone angry, but the local funeral home where I live, has a designated smoking area for all tobacco-users to congregate, smoke, talk and fill the area with second-hand smoke. Is this acceptable funeral behavior? I should say no and I am not a graduate of the Amy Vanderbilt School of Manners. I just know that the smell of cigarettes, and cigars is bad enough, but at a funeral home?
  • While in-line to pay last respects to the deceased is one place that I witnessed a man and his wife waltz-in ahead of the already-formed line of mourners and butt-ahead of everyone. This man and wife were former owners of a clothing store in Hamilton, Alabama, but that disrespectful, rude gesture was not called for. And it was very unappreciated.
  • Children should not be allowed to run like wild gorillas in the jungle at a funeral visitation. Again, this local funeral home in Hamilton, Alabama, doesn't set policy against wee ones yelling, screaming and running in and out of the chapel while the deceased's friends and family are recalling fond memories of their loved one. I helped to teach all three of my grandkids to sit with me or their parents. And if they needed to use the restroom, to politely and quietly ask me or their parents to accompany them. And NOT run wild for this action is not acceptable.

These Are Things That You Do At Funerals

EXERCISE RESPECT, HONOR, DIGNITY AND SELF-CONTROL Keep in mind that the funeral is not about you, but the loved ones and friends of the one whom has passed away. You are not there to entertain, but serve in a quiet, comforting manner.

EAT A FULL-MEAL before you arrive at the wake. This may be the best advice I can give you. Some places that conduct funerals, offer snacks for family and friends, but please use moderation. Only get a few things to eat that will satisfy your hunger. Do not keep going back time and time again. Unless you want to be thought of as a 'disrespectful glutton.'

DRESS APPROPRIATELY you are not at the beach with your frat buddies. Dress in a formal suit and tie. And of course, shower, please. I know that for some, this is a nuisance, but there again, "whom is the funeral for?" Right. Not you. So do your best to look respectful and do NOT strut into the chapel. This is not a place for your male bravado. But a time to pay your last respects to a person whom has left this life to enter eternal rest. And a time for you and I, to offer ourselves and services to the wounded family members and friends.

UNLESS YOU HAVE A MEDICAL CONDITION, AND MUST TALK LOUD speak softly to people who are at the wake or funeral. If you 'must' bellow your words, go outside. Go to your car. Take the person or persons you want to bellow your complaint about our government and sit in your car until your need of loud-talking has subsided.

BE COURTEOUS to everyone. Be as civil, nice, and polite as humanly possible. This is a rough time for this grieving family. They will appreciate your mannerable image that you project.

BE A GOOD LISTENER in case some of the grieving family needs to talk. I had much rather be a good listener, than a know-it-all and try to solve their pain of losing a loved one with advice I got from Doctor(s) Oz and Phil.

OFFER TO DO THINGS FOR THE FAMILY such as preparing a plate of food for them. Getting them a more-comfortable chair. A soothing soda. Anything to be of service. And above all, do not make a show of your concern as to say, "Look at what "I'm" doing for this hurting family," this is not only a rude gesture, but very unacceptable. And vulgar.

This is an incomplete list of the do's and don't's of funeral behavior, but I think that maybe I've covered the basics. The fundamentals that will help you to cope with the loss of the loved one at the funeral while being of service and a good friend to his or her surviving family and friends.

OH, ONE MORE HIGHLY-IMPORTANT THING . . .

"Please, I beg of you, single guys! DO NOT smoothly try to get pretty girl's phone numbers while you are at any funeral. This is lower than the snacker, joker, and the butt-ahead in line couple."

And I thank you for reading this.


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Comments 20 comments

mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida

Hello my friend from Alabama! You and I were brought up by parents who taught us manners. Most parents now a days don't do that, and it makes me sick. You can't really blame the kids either: they just have never been taught. Another good subject you thought of here.

I wrote a little poem this AM about being addicted to HubPages, and I kind of mentioned you (not by name, but you will recognize yourself), because of your different subjects you write about. See if you can pick yourself out?? I voted this one UP, etc.etc.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear Mary615 . . .you are soooooo KIND! Thanks so much for your comment. And yes, my dad and mom would have 'tanned my hide,' if I acted up at any of the places I mentioned. And at home too. Thanks, KENNETH


Giselle Maine 5 years ago

Thank you for this very helpful guide. I learned a lot, as I have been fortunate enough not to have anyone close to me die. Yet. Even with my lack of experience at funerals I would have never dreamt of doing any of the no-no's like eating snacks in the audience or being loud. (I was shocked at how many of these things you have unfortunately seen happen!) However, the things that you DO at funerals were new to me, although something hopefully that any sensitive and sensible person would do. I am so grateful for this guide, where I otherwise would have been a bit 'lost'. I definitely learned a lot from you.


smcopywrite profile image

smcopywrite 5 years ago from all over the web

hello and thank you for such an insightful hub. many people don't want to talk about the ugly things that go on during a funeral. thank you for putting it all out there for us to take a good look at. great hub. voted up


The Fastionista 5 years ago

Yes, what has happened to people's manners?! It sounds like you had very responsible, cool parents. I don't understand people these days who don't seem to know even the most basic manners. Anyway - another great hub - beyond an excellent list of dos and don'ts for funeral behavior, I was touched by your stories, particularly about your first pallbearer experience. Thank you for sharing, Kenneth - voted up, beautiful, and most certainly useful!! :)


Jean Bakula profile image

Jean Bakula 5 years ago from New Jersey

Hi Kenneth,

Knowing you I was unsure what to expect here, but I should have known how respectful and thoughtful you would treat this subject. And it's a brave subject to tackle, people hate to discuss death. I have seen people wearing dirty jeans and t-shirts, again, the cell phones, and generally talk loud and be rude in funeral homes. If you can't control yourself it's better to stay home. In the North, many are just having "Celebration of Life" ceremonies. No bodies in coffins. They get them creamated, then have a ceremony with or without the urn. There are lots of pics of when the deceased was alive and happy, and the family is better prepared. I like it, nobody really wants to stare at a dead body, even if it's someone they love. It's too hard. I told my family I don't want anything, only that they remember the good times we had, and the important things I taught them (if any). My family is so small, I'm afraid it will all fall on my only son, so I told him just call the undertaker, and remember the great times we spent in Jamaica, in his growing up, and all the smiles we shared. Life is for the living, right? But at least we were brought up with manners apparently, so thanks for passing on these tips, and being so brave when you were only a boy yourself!


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear Giselle, you are very blessed at not having to deal with a funeral, but even though we haven't met, we have on hubs, and I DO NOT think that you were even remotely close to these "people," who did these deplorable things at funerals. No respect. No feelings. What a place to be an idiot. Thanks for YOUR KIND comment and wonderful friendship, Giselle! KENNETH


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

11/14/2011

Hello, smcopywrite. Thank YOU for your honest and thoughtful comment. Actually, I was afraid to comment on death and funerals. I just went by faith and hopefully it might of helped one person. I want to be put away in an expensive Panama silk suit. I never owned one in real life, so why not on my way to THE Place? Besides what's the harm? Thanks for your thoughts and I want to hear from you again. Sincerely, KENNETH


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hello My New Friend, Fastionista! In answer to your question, I don't know. I wish that manners were still being taught in today's society. But at my age, well, the only manners I can hope for is to not be cursed out by a Friendly Service rep in some nationally-known dept. store. That will suffice. And I appreciate so much, your insight and comments. Have a great Tuesday. KENNETH


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hello, Dear Jean! You amaze me with your views on life and in this case, the after-life. I was very impressed with your unselfish wish when that time comes...God forbid. I do thank you, Jean, for this, and all of your lovely and truthful comments. YOU SURE KNOW how to make this old guy's day. Thanks, KENNETH


always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

I tend to agree with your analysis of funeral behavior. The last one i attended, the wife was drunk, i'm not kidding! She apparently was in so much pain, she started drinking early in the morning. The funeral started at ten am and she was really stoned. She didn't show up at the cemetery either. Sad but true. Thank's for tips on how to act at a funeral....


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

always exploring...that instance is sad. But when things like this happen, I now, at least try, to put myself where people (that do this) are and that makes me think of what I think of them. When I was younger, I was very judgemental and overbearing, but when I lost seven uncles, three aunts, two grandpas and grandmas and my mom and dad, something clicked inside me. And I began to look through different eyes, but I don't condone smoking at funeral homes...smoking near the grieving family members, eating while the service is going on, talking so loud you drown out the minister and so on...these actins can be altered. My point is, what happened to us in America? And why can't we simply respect the fallen and the deceased like we used to do? That puzzles me. And always, THANKS FOR YOUR COMMENTS, that do give me nice things to think about. Highest Regards, KENNETH


always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

Kenneth, I would never judge this woman or anyone else. I feel that we have to walk in their shoes to know how they are feeling. People are so quick to judge others. Sometimes what you see on the outside is not who that person is inside..Thank's again..Take care..Cheers


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Amen to that. And thank YOU, always exploring, for that sensitive insight. I agree with you on this 110% and I also believe it is at that time of trading places with people, so to speak, that the wisdom comes to us on how to look at them from more than just one viewpoint. Thanks again. Have a Wonderful, creative day.KENNETH


Sueswan 5 years ago

Dear Kenneth

I think this hub should be handed out as an informational brochure/pamphlet at funeral homes. I would name it Respect - "What to do and not to do at a Funeral Service."

"BE A GOOD LISTENER in case some of the grieving family needs to talk. I had much rather be a good listener, than a know-it-all and try to solve their pain of losing a loved one with advice I got from Doctor(s) Oz and Phil."

All your tips and suggestions are great Kenneth but I think this one is the most important.

Voted up and awesome.

Have a wonderful day.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

11/21/2011

11:31 a.m/cst

Dear Sueswan, " a FOND THANK YOU, for your sweet remarks and votes. I have met people, 'the fixers,' both ladies qand gents who 'just know' what to do when death is present. And they talk more than they listen. Ive had this pulled on me too and its annoying. Thanks, DEAR friend, for the support. I shall NOT forget it or YOU! Kenneth


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 5 years ago from US

I guess the worst I have experienced is someone laughing a little but I have never been offended, I knew they were not laughing at the loved one or me, just with a friend. When I was very young they brought people home and I wrote about that eons ago, how people ate in the same room even with a dead person! Most of my experience was as a child and I told it through a child's eyes. You have given some good advice and I hope I am never at another funeral...not even my own! Oh, I totally agree about the preacher!

Beautiful but haunting picture at the top.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

11/22

Hi, pollyannalana...THANK YOU KINDLY for your input/comments. And that goes for me as well...have had my share of funerals. Don't misunderstand, I grieve when someone I know passes, but I don't enjoy (some) of the unneeded things that go on at these events. You have a great day and relax. Appreciate YOU! Kenneth and PS, the photo at top, a metaphorical sign of what life is to me.


Support Med. profile image

Support Med. 4 years ago from Michigan

You certainly have a talent for making us laugh at what we would otherwise think is a most inopportune time - what you included in your 'to do' list, cracked me up:

"UNLESS YOU HAVE A MEDICAL CONDITION, AND MUST TALK LOUD speak softly to people who are at the wake or funeral. If you 'must' bellow your words, go outside...." LOL, LOL!! There are some people who just 'naturally' (if you can call it that, talk real loud). Guess, it really could be a 'medical condition' -- such a ha-ha, LOL to me. You are something else!!! But, yes these are really good suggestions/tips. voted and rated.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear Support Med., my good and enduring friend, "Thank you so much," for the nice comment that cheered me up today. And if you've ever watched episodes of Seinfeld....then you know their "names" for people as you talk about..."The Loud Talker," "Low Talker," "High Talker," "Close Talker," I guess LOW talker's are easier to cope with at funerals. I TOO know a few older men who cannot, for the life of themselves, whisper. Oh, one factor I guess is these older men have been married for over 60 years...that may make a difference...NOW you have me laughing..thanks, Support Med. You and your comment came at a perfect time. God bless you!

Kenneth

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