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 Post subject: funeral/wake etiquette
PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 1:27 pm 
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ok this is probably a weird question but i hate to be inadvertantly rude.

i had to go to a wake yesterday and the family of the deceased is Catholic so there was a little kneely bench thingy in front of the coffin (probably standard regardless of religion?) and obviously the point is when you get to the coffin kneel down, say a prayer, and pay your respects.
i have a hard time with the open coffin thing. i dont know what specifically it is but it whigs me out. it's not so much fear as my brain just has a hard time comprehending this body that was once living and is now not. at my grandparents' funerals i would go no where near the coffin but it seemed ok because i was part of hte family and not someone going through the receiving line.

so i am not religious. i am heavily agnostic leaning on atheist so i dont pray so when i got to the coffin i was at a loss for what to do.

is it considered rude just to bypass the coffin all together and just go straight to the family to pay your respects?
i kneeled down and sort of hung out there for a minute. i felt a little disingenuous cause i wasnt praying but i sort of just mentally said goodbye to the person and moved on.

what do you think? must kneel? ok to keep going?

no one ever wants to make a faux pas at a funeral.

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 Post subject: Re: funeral/wake etiquette
PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 1:33 pm 
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I just don't walk past the coffin. I go around another way and see the family. Whatever you feel comfortable with is ok. As long as you're not causing a scene no one should care what you choose to do at a funeral.

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 Post subject: Re: funeral/wake etiquette
PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 1:57 pm 
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The one and only time I found myself at an open-casket funeral, it was unexpected to say the least. I had noooo interest in checking out the body, so when the usher got to my aisle to signal it was our turn to go up and view the body, I quietly asked if I could wait in the lobby instead (the service was wrapping up at this point). I think it's totally fine to skip the body altogether and give your respects to the family at another point.

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 Post subject: Re: funeral/wake etiquette
PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 2:14 pm 
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you can skip it...don't feel bad.

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 Post subject: Re: funeral/wake etiquette
PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 2:40 pm 
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You're fine. At the last funeral I attended, I did my best to stay a far, far away from the casket. Everyone seemed to understand. Really, I imagine many people would be lost in their own thoughts and/or grief at a funeral, not keeping score of Optimal Funeral Behavior.

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 Post subject: Re: funeral/wake etiquette
PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 5:05 pm 
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Yes, I avoid the casket at funerals as well. I think a lot of people do, it's not a big deal.

Sorry for your loss :(


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 Post subject: Re: funeral/wake etiquette
PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 5:50 pm 
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LisaPunk wrote:
what do you think? must kneel? ok to keep going?

no one ever wants to make a faux pas at a funeral.

I think it's fine to keep going or not go at all. The only thing that will really get you into trouble is taking a selfie with the body.

And for all of you that think the open casket thing is weird, that is our tradition and my grandma explained to me that part of the reason for it is to see that they are gone. That the body is there and the soul is in heaven. So even if you aren't religious maybe that knowledge will help it be less freaky.

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 Post subject: Re: funeral/wake etiquette
PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 5:50 pm 
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Oh jeez open caskets are the worst. Regardless of religion or what you believe or what anyone else believes, no one can judge another person for not wanting to see that, for whatever reason.

And I think the kneely bench thing is primarily Catholic? Totally ok to skip it. In all honesty, the other mourners will be too preoccupied with their grieving to judge you in any way, unless you like wore a red dress and tried to juggle for the crowd or something.

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 Post subject: Re: funeral/wake etiquette
PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 6:07 pm 
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yeah at this particular wake there was 800thousandmillion people there for the calling hours so the line literally weaved around the funeral home and i think we were waiting like an hourish in line so the line went right up to the casket and you were pretty much forced to at least walk by it, so while you were waiting for your turn with the family you either had to kneel or stand in front of it.

i think that's why the question came into my mind. i think other wakes ive been to i could walk right up to the family or at least i didnt have to like hang out in front of the casket.

at the very least the power went out right when we got into the room with the coffin because it was raining like crazy out and the funeral home inexplicably had no generator so it was nice and dark (but not like creepy and pitch black or anything)

i think you guys are all right though about no one caring what im doing

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 Post subject: Re: funeral/wake etiquette
PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 6:32 pm 
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Yeah I think pretty much all the funerals I've been to were open casket and there are always people who don't want to go up. My one cousin in particular - she wouldn't even go near her own father when he passed. I've never heard someone have a problem with that.

I've seen some people touch hands or even kiss the dead body to say goodbye and honestly i think that is even more freaky!! But it just goes to show we all deal with death in our own way.

Since you had to go up I think your short kneel was totally respectful and fine.

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 Post subject: Re: funeral/wake etiquette
PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 7:22 pm 
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I think every funeral in my family has been open casket, we actually had a family meltdown at my Grandma's funeral because of a few reasons that I won't detail, but that really made me not be able to deal with open caskets. I've only been to one funeral since with an open casket, and I just didn't look as we walked past to greet the family.

Anyway, I don't think there's much etiquette involved in funerals since people are grieving and even if you didn't know the person well, dealing with death makes most people act weird. As long as you don't show up drunk, knock over the casket, or something like that, you're fine.

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 Post subject: Re: funeral/wake etiquette
PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 7:30 pm 
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I always skip walking past the casket. Creeps me out too, plus if it's someone I know well, that is NOT the last image I want of them in my mind. The bench I think must be Catholic. I've been to many religious funerals, though no Catholic funerals, and have never seen a bench by the casket.


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 Post subject: Re: funeral/wake etiquette
PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 7:33 pm 
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the first wake i ever went to was for my grandmother whom i was very close with and although she was elderly her death was sort of sudden and unexpected. i was completely devastated. i sat in the back of the service because it was open casket and COULD.NOT.DEAL. thankfully the coffin was up pretty high so from where i sat i couldnt see in.

at the end of the service they shut the lid because my two nephews were not quite old enough to like go to a wake and see the body but were old enough to understand who Nana was and that she was gone so they wanted to bring them in and have them say goodbye so they shut the lid and so that's when i went up.

not sure if that experience is what made me unable to deal with open casket or if it's just not something i can deal with.

this person who's wake it was was a total nutjob goofball constant joker and i was totally waiting for him to like jump up and be like GOTCHA!!!

i think every funeral ive been to since has been open casket but ive been able to avoid going up. my other grandmother there was no coffin because she was cremated and directly after the wake thingy we went to the cemetary.

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 Post subject: Re: funeral/wake etiquette
PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 7:58 pm 
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Oh man, a week ago tonight was my grandmother's wake, and it was at the funeral home in two adjoining rooms. I went into the first room and was in there for a while, receiving people as they came in etc. Then I saw that in the next room there was a table set up with a photo album of pictures from my granny's life, so I walked through to look at it. I was looking at it for a few minutes, then I turned to walk back out and when I turned I realized I was like three feet from the open casket (there had been people obscuring that side of the room when I first walked in). Anyway, my sudden proximity to my granny's dead body caused me to gasp audibly and inadvertently exclaim "oh my god," before quickly walking to the other room, sitting down, and putting my face in my hands for a few minutes. So, as far as etiquette goes, don't worry. I'm sure what you did was way more acceptable than my little spectacle.

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 Post subject: Re: funeral/wake etiquette
PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 5:44 am 
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Oh, poopie, what an awful thing to be unexpectedly confronted with. You probably reacted better than I would have in that situation. I suspect I would have audibly sworn before I could stop myself. Hugs to you.

I've only ever been to one open casket funeral and I actually refused to go into the room with the casket. I was 15 and a friend of mine had died from a gunshot wound to the head (presumably accidental - a group of his friends were forking around with someone's parents' guns). His parents insisted on open casket, so I guess the mortician did whatever magic they do. Open casket was already weird to me (growing up in a Jewish family and open casket is not done in Judaism) and I was already freaked out about my friend dying in such a horrible way. There was no way I was going in there and even accidentally seeing a sliver of his body out of the corner of my eye. I knew I would have nightmares for a long time if I did. I stayed outside during the service and just paid my respects to the family when they came out.

In the Netherlands and Belgium it seems that the tradition is that there are hours when people can go to the funeral parlor in the days leading up to the funeral if they wish to view the body, but the actual funeral is closed casket.

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 Post subject: Re: funeral/wake etiquette
PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 11:19 am 
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I haven't been to a lot of funerals/wakes, granted, but I think the most flagrantly rude thing I've seen was someone wearing jeans. This was, coincidentally, at the only open-casket funeral I've ever been to. In fact, that whole funeral was a little weird. It was for my friend's grandfather, so I wasn't there because I knew him very well so much as out of support/respect for my friend and her mom. It was in a run-of-the-mill funeral home and was for all intents and purposes a traditional funeral (I think they are Baptist). But of grandpa's four adult children, the one who lives in Hawaii showed up with spouse in matching shorts, Tevas, and leis. It's not like grandpa was ever super into Hawaii, no one else in the family had ever lived there, and they have no Hawaiian/Polynesian lineage. So it struck me as kind of tacky. We all grieve in different ways, and I'm not saying there's One Way to have a funeral or memorial for someone. But it definitely didn't strike me as the way ol' gramps would have wanted his funeral to be. But whatever, not my family, so I kept my mouth shut. The dude in jeans, though, was not related to anyone, so that was just a tacky faux pas out and out.

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 Post subject: Re: funeral/wake etiquette
PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 11:55 am 
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i wore dark pressed jeans to my boyfriend's great - great grandfather's funeral because i had nothing else to wear. most people who were attending wore dark jeans. i did not know the family and was only there because his mom forced us to go.

a few weeks back we heard a cousin of a cousin of the boyfriend's died he was young - like six. we got a call about a family party after the funeral and thought that was a horrible idea and decided to pass on both. children funerals + get together = not my cup of tea.

my sister's funeral service was held in a park, it was just a celebration of her life. since we had her cremated and only close family visited her at the funeral home we wanted others to have a chance to say goodbye. my aunt invited her neighbor to come over and eat....i thought that was tacky. he came over 20 minutes to eat at a funeral service gathering.

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 Post subject: Re: funeral/wake etiquette
PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 12:05 pm 
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I'm really not the type to bemoan how ladies' gloves have gone by the wayside, and I'm sitting at work in jeans and a raggedy tee right now. But unless specifically instructed otherwise, I think weddings and funerals are two life events for which you just have to pull yourself together. I feel like the very least I can do to honor someone's entire life is a load of laundry.

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