She’s dead … Incredulous, you are speechless. Your whole body is trembling. Chills are run down your spine. Although you knew she was ill and even if you were not close to her, it’s still a shock.
From near or far, expected or unexpected, you are never ready for the fog of death.
As November is commonly referred to as the month of the dead, avoid embarrassment or faux-pas by reading this blog post on modern mourning manners.
TO GO OR NOT TO GO TO THE VISITATION
Hmmm … that is not an easy decision. You can think of thousands of other things to do in lieu of putting on your funeral attire and making your way to the parlour. Unless the service or the visits are marked as “private”, go. This is one of those occasions when quantity matters. The more people are present to pay their respects, the more the relatives console themselves. All recognize that time is precious. The gift of your time soothes their souls.
WHAT TO SAY
Offer your condolences with sympathy. Make sure to seek family members to introduce yourself with your first name, as well as your last name. State your relationship with the deceased. In person, in a handwritten note or in an email, if you feel like it, tell a story or an anecdote. Be considerate of others, be brief and concise. Ease the thank you note obligations of the bereaved, by adding this note: to your condolences, “It is not necessary to acknowledge receipt.”
WHAT TO WEAR
Your outfit must be clean and sober. Nowadays, dark colours are just as suitable as the traditional black. In a celebration of life in lieu of a funeral service, it is popular to ask guests to wear the favourite colour of the deceased. Do so with at least one accessory in that colour. Beware of perfumes; less is better.
WHEN TO ARRIVE
Arrive early with time to predispose yourself to the possible wave of emotions. Put your phone in polite, that is the “silent” mode. I insist, no vibration mode. Observe relatives to see if you can take some pictures. Do not initiate a selfie as a souvenir. If the family does it, it’s up to you to do so, or not.
HOW TO BEHAVE
Walk in and approach the photo, the coffin or the urn. Kneel, pray or meditate. A family member could join you. Pay your respects to the family members. Take a tour of the people you know. The duration of your visit varies according to your relationship with loved ones and the deceased. If you are invited you to share a light snack and beverages, go. It’s comforting for those mourning to see people smiling and sharing memories of their love one.
WHAT TO OFFER
Consult the obituary and respect the wishes of the family. Instead of having flowers delivered or of making a donation, another option is to send a plant to the family home after all of the traditional rituals.
WHAT TO DO TO HELP
Observe, be attentive and proactive. Do not wait until you are asked. Many people never dare to ask for help.
- announce the news to co-workers, members of their professional association, the book club, etc.
- prepare a meal or a dessert.
- go shopping or to drive the person while she conducts errands.
- keep the children, accompany them to their activities or invite them to join in one of yours.
ATTEND; WITH OR WITHOUT CHILD?
If you bring your child, he must be made aware of the solemnity of the scenes and the practices that he will observe. You must be ready to comfort him if he becomes overwhelmed by a wave of emotion.
WHEN IT IS ANOTHER RELIGION
Consult the internet, ask the place of worship or the celebrant, about the rites to be respected, as well the protocol for funerals.
Regardless of the circumstances of the next death that you will witness, allow yourself to be pampered during your own mourning.