Funeral Etiquette

Funeral Etiquette
Very few experiences cause stress for families like the passing of a loved one, especially if the death was tragic or unexpected. The loss can demand the unanticipated spending of money, and in some instances, it may require one to relate to several institutions and persons inclusive of insurance companies, place of employment, funeral home, cemetery, family members, and in no way least, a pastor, priest, or elder, etc. And yet, these interactions do not constitute the end of the ordeal for family members, as the funeral service itself can take on the unexpected, turning into a long and drawn-out sitting. Funeral services tend to vary in length because of several factors.
Condolences, Remarks, and Tributes
The number of persons asked or requested to bring condolences, remarks, and or tributes is a major factor. If there are five or more persons giving remarks, though instructed to speak for 2-3 minutes and reminded by printing of the same in the program booklet, it is very unlikely that everything will go as printed. Persons invariably exceed the time. There seems to be an aura about funeral services that influences even the shiest of persons to speak longer than required, especially if encouraged on by hearty “Amens!” from the congregants. Consequently, by the time two or three persons would have spoken, it is likely that the remarks would have become repetitious. What is even more disturbing is when it is observed that the notes of a given speaker include several pages for a two-minute condolence. On the other hand, because one has no notes is no indication that the speech will fall within the time given. Equally annoying is when the remarks end with an unsolicited musical selection or when persons whose names are not printed are permitted to speak because they feel they must.

Special Music or Musical Selection
Musical selection implies just singing or an instrumental rendition. However, if you have attended a few funerals, you may have witnessed persons giving remarks or a “sermonette” prior to singing or playing, oblivious to the fact that time is moving and that others are to follow, including the pastor with the sermon or homily. In some churches, just before the musical item, an usher escorts the musician/singer to the front and reminds him/her of what he/she is expected to do. Then, as soon as the person before him/her leaves the podium, he/she (the musician/singer) is in place to sing or perform without unnecessarily extending the song or the service.

Reading the Obituary
Most persons read the obituary during the funeral proceedings or as soon as they sit down to await the commencement of the service, especially if they are on time and fortunate to obtain a copy of the funeral brochure. So when someone reads the obituary aloud from the podium during the service or requests that everyone reads it silently together, time is being utilized that could be used for another item.

It is unnecessary to preach a long sermon, especially after the family and others have been sitting for a long time; neither is it fair to the pastor or priest to have to cut short his or her sermon because persons speaking or performing before he/she spoke consumed the time, and as a result, a good number of persons left before hearing the message. This raises a question: “What is the purpose of a funeral service?” To be continued!!!