Funeral Etiquette – Tips for the Reception

By: Anderson Funeral Home
Thursday, October 6, 2016

Funeral Etiquette – Tips for the Reception

It is important for many people to understand what behavior is expected at a funeral reception. Different cultures and different communities may have practices that are unfamiliar or even uncomfortable to those that have not been a part of them before. You will be more comfortable and less likely to intrude on the moment if you take some time to learn the basic funeral etiquette tips and guidelines.

Funeral Reception Etiquette Basics

  1. When in doubt, ask the one coordinating the reception. If you have any questions – from what is expected from you to what you should wear – then ask the person designated with the task of organizing the funeral reception. One phone call can go a long ways towards easing your concerns or worries.
  2. Think of the family first. The funeral and the following reception are about the mourning and healing of the family and friends left behind. Some funeral receptions will be strictly for those closest to the family while others will be open to all that attended the funeral. The funeral director or the one conducting the service will usually give instructions about the funeral reception. Again, if you still have a question, ask the funeral director or the one coordinating the reception.
  3. Put others first. The family should be the first to be served at the funeral reception. While not all family members will want to eat, it is proper etiquette that they should have the option. Once the family has been served and they have a place to sit, then everyone else can be served.
  4. Remember the reason for the gathering. A funeral reception is about remembering and sharing the life of the deceased. It is okay to eat, but keep the servings light. This is time for fun stories and warmth, and not just a free meal for those that attended the funeral.
  5. Now is not the time for assumptions. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the funeral reception. Every family may be different in what they want and what they expect. If it has not been openly expressed, then do not assume that is welcomed.
  6. Keep the noise down. Although the funeral reception is the time for sharing joy filled stories, the tone should still be somber. Keep the laughter to a minimum and the noise level down.
  7. Choose containers that do not need to be returned. If you are bringing food for the family (after having checked with the coordinator of the funeral reception), then store the food in a container that can be thrown away or does not need to be returned. It is just one less thing for the family to have to worry over in the days to come.

A funeral reception can be a time to refresh after the burial. It can offer family and friends an opportunity to share fun (and funny) stories about the deceased. Take time to learn the wants and desires of the family so that you will be able to follow the best funeral reception etiquette tips and guidelines for the situation.

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