When someone you know dies or faces a death in their family your first instinct is to help. It is natural to want to help during this time of grief. We have provided a guide to thoughtful behavior designed to make you feel more confident knowing your actions are appropriate. Please can click to download this PDF
Some of the more common questions -
What colors are appropriate to wear to a funeral if you are a friend of the family?
In the past immediate family members typically dressed in dark, conservative colors. However, there are many factors that may encourage a change from this tradition, such as traditions of the community,religious or personal beliefs, the age of the deceased, etc.
Today, as people become more comfortable with personalized "Celebration of a Life well lived" Funeral Services rather than more typical Funeral Services, the colors, even of the immediate family, have become brighter and more colorful.
We encourage you to wear something that is respectful in appearance. You may wear any color; your knowledge of the family and of the circumstances surrounding the death may help you determine what you would be most comfortable in wearing. We generally tell visitors to wear something conservative that would be appropriate for a church service or an outfit that would be considered "business casual" for the visitation. We would still encourage professional dress for the Funeral Service. It is always better to err in the direction of formality rather than informality.
Is it proper to have the casket open during the funeral?
If the Funeral Service is to be held in a church the casket is usually closed in the sanctuary but may remain open if the clergy person approves. When the Funeral Service is held at a Funeral Home we find that many families choose to keep the casket open for visitors to pay their final respects after the service. Also, services at the Funeral Home are usually less formal than in a church setting.
Am I supposed to send acknowledgement cards for sympathy cards I receive?
It is not necessary to send acknowledgement cards for sympathy cards, telephone calls, food items sent, or other expressions of sympathy, however acknowledgement of such kindnesses is appreciated. It should also be noted that there is no set time-frame for acknowledgement cards since people know that you are thinking of them but we would encourage you to send those out within the few months following the death.
Is humor ever appropriate during such a solemn time?
We often hear laughter during calling hours as family and friends share stories about the deceased. However, for teenagers and children this can be upsetting or confusing. It is best to prepare them for the possibility ahead of time. Follow the lead of those who are grieving, because humor is quite subjective.
Are cars supposed to pull off the road when there is a funeral procession passing?
In Ohio it is not state law to pull off the road but it is considered very respectful when road conditions and traffic patterns permit. We always advise motorists to be aware of their surroundings at that time to avoid an accident.
When visiting hours are 6-8pm, as a visitor do I stay the entire time?
Visitors are not expected to stay the entire time of visitation. If you are close to the family and see a need you can fulfill by staying for an extended period of time, your presence would be appreciated. If there is a long receiving line, keep your remarks to the family brief to help facilitate the receiving of friends.
What is the number one statement not to make to the grieving family?
Most bereaved individuals will indicate that the statement, "I know how you feel" is the most irritating.
Most of us would prefer to hear what our loved one meant to you. If you did not know the deceased person it is helpful to say things like: "I'll be thinking about you or I am sorry for your loss" are also appropriate to say, "I will call to check on you" if you plan to do so. It is very important to follow through on offers of assistance, rather than simply making the statement at the time of services. Many times families will find a need for assistance once things have begun to "settle down" after the services and your offer and help could mean a great deal to them. Acts of kindness towards a grieving family do not have to be grand gestures but rather sincere gestures of help on many levels. Some examples of such acts: mow the grass, purchase groceries, change the oil in the car, baby-sit the children, provide a meal, provide transportation, etc. Avoid telling the family to "call me if you need anything." Generally, grieving families do not have the energy to call and ask for help.