MeadowLawn’s Helpful Funeral Etiquette Guide
Funerals should be a time of remembering and honoring your deceased loved one. Learning some basic Funeral Etiquette can help you and others get the best experience possible from attending a funeral. Many behaviors and traditions are common knowledge among those who are acquainted with the deceased, but not everyone is well-versed enough to feel comfortable when they walk through the doors of the funeral parlor. Although funeral etiquette isn’t an exact science, and not every rule has to be followed to the letter, there are general behaviors that should be observed when you are planning or attending a funeral.
When You Arrive
Many times, the family of the deceased will have an album or billboard of pictures commemorating the life and times of their loved one. If you arrive early, don’t be afraid to peruse the photos and take some happy memories away from them. You should, however, be seated before the funeral service starts. Have a seat in the chapel at least two rows back, or farther if there are more rows reserved for the family.
What To Wear
Most people think of funerals having a strict “wear black” dress code. This isn’t the case at all. Although you should never wear bright, loud colors unless you are given permission by the family, you can wear conservative colors like grey, brown, black, navy blue, and so on. As long as your outfit isn’t a distraction to others, you should be fine.
Specific funeral etiquette for men’s and women’s dress is as follows:
- Women – Modest dress is a must. A simple grey dress with a black cardigan would be an appropriate outfit. Only wear a hat if it doesn’t block someone else’s view during the chapel or graveside service.
- Men – Suits, dress trousers and dress shirts are standard. Hats may be worn when outside, but not indoors.
Both men and women are allowed to wear military uniforms to a funeral if the occasion calls for it.
Bringing Your Children
If your child knows the person who died or is a family member, it is acceptable to bring them to the funeral. Explain to your child beforehand what has happened and why you are attending, your children will be less likely to interrupt the service with questions. If your child fails to behave in most social situations, or you are worried they may disrupt the service, make other arrangements for the children, such as a babysitter or staying with a friend/family member for the day.
Sympathy cards are a highly appropriate way to express your regrets about the death of family member, friend or loved one. Simple one-sentence notes in a card such as “I’m sorry for your loss” are best if you weren’t close to the deceased, but cards for loved ones or family members can be longer. Happy memories and humorous stories are appropriate to share, as they are remembering a positive experience you had with the deceased. Stay away from any negative or depressing talk in your sympathy card; it will just end up upsetting the person you’re sending it to. See our blog post on writing the perfect sympathy card here.
If you would like to send flowers to the funeral parlor or family of the deceased, there are some general rules to follow for proper funeral etiquette:
- Funeral Flowers – Unless the family has specifically requested donations instead, it’s alright for you to send flower arrangements for the funeral service. Make sure to have the arrangement on a stand that is easily transportable, as they may need to be moved around.
- Flowers For The Family – Flowers sent directly to the home of the deceased’s family should be smaller arrangements, such as those that can be placed as a table centerpiece or in the entryway. Sending flowers for the funeral service to the family should be avoided at all costs, as it may upset them.
- Casket Flowers – Only those arranging the funeral should purchase casket flowers. If you would like a flower added to the arrangement, you can ask the family for permission to include it.
The type of flower you send can depend on the type of funeral. Different religions and cultures have certain types of flowers that have significant meaning, so make sure you do your research before you purchase an arrangement. You can also read MeadowLawn’s more in-depth blog post on Funeral Flower Etiquette.
The family of the deceased most likely doesn’t feel like cooking, so bringing dishes of food is appropriate. They will appreciate the gesture. Since they’ll be busy planning the funeral and making arrangements, clearly label your dish if you want it returned. It’s also a good idea to ask beforehand if any family member has food allergies or dietary restrictions. Casseroles and side dishes are what most people bring, but you can also bring a favorite food of theirs for some much needed comfort.
What To Say
It can be difficult to come up with the right words for grieving family members in their time of sorrow. However difficult you may find it to speak to the family; you should at least offer brief words of sympathy and condolences. Avoid negative comments or jokes. You don’t have to come up with anything clever. Simply say that you’re sorry for their loss and, if you’re comfortable, offer a listening ear should they need to talk.
Thank you for reading MeadowLawn’s article Helpful Funeral Etiquette Guide.
MeadowLawn Funeral Home, Crematory and Cemetery is located in San Antonio Texas.
It can be difficult to find the right words to express to someone who’s grieving. Their relative may have been diagnosed with serious illness or died, and you want to express your condolences without upsetting them with the wrong words. Writing a sympathy card doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Here are five tips on what to write in a sympathy card so it will bring the recipient comfort.
Writing The Perfect Sympathy Card
First things first: you need to physically write on a card or personal note. A more convenient trend is sending sympathy cards through email, but this doesn’t have the personal touch it needs to evoke emotion from the recipient.
When you start off your card, offer your condolences. This doesn’t have to be a lengthy story about how the person’s diagnosis or death was a horrible tragedy, and that you can’t begin to imagine, etc. etc., and so on. Keep it short, sweet and heartfelt (e.g. “I’m terribly sorry for your loss.”).
The best thing that the family of the loved one could hear is your appreciation for them. Everyone acts differently around family, friends and coworkers, and it’s a relief for the family to know that others loved them and are sad at their passing. This is a great time to mention your relationship with the deceased for family members who may not know you.
If at all possible, offer to help in any way you can. The responsibility of caring for a terminally ill patient or planning a funeral takes its toll on the family members. They may kindly refuse your offer and state that they’re thankful, but that they’d rather take care of it themselves. Don’t be offended if this happens; remember, they’re still grieving and may want some privacy.
Follow up with a separate card later with a message of hope for the grieving family. You can once again offer assistance should they need it in the coming weeks. A great way to do this is to say something like “I’m here for you” or “don’t hesitate to call me if you need anything”. That way, they know you care about them and will be thinking of them as they go through the motions of loss and grief.
What Not To Write In A Sympathy Card
We as human beings tend to think that expressing empathy, rather than sympathy, is preferable in times of grieving. However, telling the person who’s grieving that you “know how [they] feel” can sometimes upset them. No one knows exactly how they feel, and they certainly don’t want to hear painful reminders of their loss like “what a horrible way to go”. Keep references to pain and death out of your sympathy card to avoid upsetting the person who’s grieving and stick to the above steps.
Thank you for reading. Come visit MeadowLawn, Funeral Home, Crematory and Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.
Hearses have long been an ominous, yet solemn presence driving along city streets and country roads. The slow progression along the route to the funeral site demands respect as other drivers give way to the hearse and its parade of mourners. This vehicle has an interesting history that not many people are aware of.
The Early Hearse
Hearses were originally horse-drawn carriages. A framework was built around the coffin and placed on a flat cart, secured and decorated with epitaphs. One could easily argue that hearses actually began with biers, flat carts on which remains were placed and drawn by hand to a burial site, but the term hearse wasn’t officially used to describe a vehicle until the 17th century. Before that, ‘hearse’ (from the word ‘herse’) referred to a candelabra placed atop a casket at a funeral.
The Hearse Becomes Motorized
In the very early years of the 20th century, hearses became motorized. Despite the fact that motorized vehicles were still in their infancy, the first motorized hearse did not use an internal combustion engine – it was electric. In 1909, the first motorized engine hearse was made by fastening the framework of the original hearse onto the chassis of a bus. Although crude when compared to today’s hearses, it was the start of a new era in funeral practices.
The New Norm
By the 1920s, gas-powered hearses started being used regularly for transporting the body of the deceased. Even with the high cost of purchasing a hearse for use, the ability to transport a higher rate of bodies per day was enough for funeral directors to bite the bullet in order to service more customers, thus hiking their profits. Hearses were first mass-produced by Crane & Breed Co., and many companies followed suit.
The Landau Hearse
The 1930s brought with them a longer, sleeker style of hearse called the Landau hearse, manufactured by Sayers & Scovill. This style got its name from the S-shaped bars on the back of the vehicle. The Landau style was also used on other vehicles, but it only remained popular with the hearse and is still used today. It wasn’t uncommon in the early 20th century for hearses to be used as both transportation for the deceased and an ambulance when the occasion called for it. The latter part of the 20th century, with its stricter regulations for ambulances, effectively removed the second function of the hearse.
The Modern Hearse
A photo of MeadowLawn’s Hearse, photo taken at our new chapel
at our Funeral Home, Crematory and Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.
Today’s hearses are typically found in the limousine style in the United States, usually with unobstructed or semi-obstructed views of the interior due to its numerous windows. Features of modern hearses sometimes include track lighting, skylights and frosted windows, and these sleek vehicles have an average cost of around $80,000. That’s one expensive vehicle!
Sending funeral flowers to a grieving friend or family member seems like it would be pretty cut and dry, but flowers each have their own meanings, and you don’t want to convey the wrong message. Funeral flower etiquette is much more than meets the eye, but we’ve come up with a short guide to funeral flowers that will help prevent any social faux pas.
What’s the difference between funeral flowers/sympathy flowers?
Funeral flowers are strictly for decorating the funeral home, funeral service and grave site. This type of flower arrangement tends to be bigger, with complex arrangements and large stands to display the flowers on. No card or direct address to those who are grieving is necessary. These flowers should never be sent to the home of loved ones, as it may cause them to be upset.
Sympathy flowers, on the other hand, should be sent to the home of those who are grieving. These arrangements will be small or medium (an ideal size for table arrangements or entryway decorations). These flowers should have a message included that expresses condolences for their loss. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy message. “My condolences” or “My deepest sympathies” will do.
Who should send flowers?
The first part of funeral flower etiquette is figuring out whether you should send flowers at all. Do you need to send flowers? Who should you send flowers to? These are both questions that need answering before you pick out an arrangement and flower type. Anyone can send funeral flowers for the deceased, but family members and close friends should feel more pressure to provide appropriate decorations for the funeral (see section on Casket Flowers).
When sending funeral flowers, make sure to send an arrangement that can be easily move. Those making funeral arrangements may need to rearrange decorations, and they don’t need to be stressed out by a cumbersome bouquet. If you’re not a close friend or family member of the deceased, include a stand with your floral arrangement so it can be moved if necessary.
When should I send casket flowers?
The casket will typically have a single arrangement, and unless you’re the one making the funeral arrangements, you should not send any casket flowers. Those decorating the casket will typically be immediate family members like children, siblings or parents. You can ask the family if you can send casket flowers if you like, but they’ll most likely have picked out an arrangement already. It’s not out of the question to have a single flower incorporated, however, and most requests can be obliged.
Images : Judith Blacklock) http://flowerona.com/2012/03/interview-with-judith-blacklock/
What type of flowers should I send?
Standard funeral flower etiquette doesn’t dictate any particular type of flower. As long as the arrangement has a positive aesthetic quality, you can send any type you like. Common flowers sent to funerals include roses, carnations and chrysanthemums, but you can also use more colorful varieties like snapdragons and lilies.
If the funeral service is for a certain religion/denomination, there are a few rules you have to follow:
- Protestant – Protestant denominations include Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc., and funeral flower etiquette is usually close to the standards mentioned above. It’s also acceptable to send food or donations to the family in lieu of flowers.
- Roman Catholic – Roman Catholic funeral etiquette requires flower arrangements to be subtler and more moderate. Flowers that are colorful or very bright aren’t appropriate. Candles and gifts for the casket are also suitable.
- Mormon – Floral arrangements of any variety are acceptable, but they cannot include the symbol of the cross. Including one would greatly offend the deceased’s loved ones and those attending the funeral service.
- Buddhist – The rule of thumb is that you can’t send red flowers or food. Only white flowers should be sent to family members. Sending flowers for the service or grave site isn’t allowed.
- Jewish – Flowers aren’t appropriate for Jewish funerals, but friends and family can send charitable donations or food.
- Hindu – Proper Hindu funeral etiquette dictates that guests are not to bring anything to the funeral. Flowers are only allowed in the open casket when mourners are viewing the body.
- Chinese – White or yellow mums/chrysanthemums are considered the traditional flowers for funerals. You should never wear red or send red flowers to a Chinese funeral, as Chinese culture considers red to represent happiness.
- Muslim – Funeral flower etiquette varies between different Muslim groups. Red roses are sometimes considered appropriate, but it’s best to ask before sending any gifts of flowers. Flowers can be placed on graves after the deceased has been buried.
What do certain flowers mean?
Most people aren’t aware of what types of funeral flowers mean, but those who do will appreciate your gift of flowers if they’re sent with a particular message in mind. Here’s a list of common funeral flowers and what they represent:
- Lilies – Lilies are a widely-known symbol for death and mourning, but the flowers actually represent innocence and purity of the soul.
- Carnations – Different colors have different meanings. For example, a white carnation represents purity and innocence in love, while pink is a sign of remembrance. Red carnations show your admiration for the deceased.
- Roses – Roses evoke powerful imagery, and have meanings as follows: white roses (humility, reverence), red roses (respect, love), pink (appreciation), yellow (deceased was a close friend), and dark crimson (grief, sorrow).
- Gladioli – Gladioli flowers have a large variety of colors, but all of them represent strength, moral integrity and a sincere heart.
- Orchids – Orchids are a symbol of a forever love. White and pink orchids are common colors for expressing sympathy.
- Chrysanthemums – These flowers are considered to be representative of grief and sorrow in most of Europe, but the United States looks at them as symbols of happiness and joy, celebrating the life of the deceased.
Daffodils/Tulips – Yellow variations of these flowers are meant as a symbol of encouragement
- to grieving family members. They also symbolize forgiveness (white), perfect love (red), and royalty (purple).
- Hydrangeas – Hydrangeas represent sincerity and are most commonly given in the spring. They’re easy to take care of, and grieving family members and friends will appreciate the thought.
Thank you for reading! Come visit MeadowLawn, Funeral Home, Crematory and Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas!
In our time of grief, a few kind words can mean the world to us. The pain of loss can be softened by quotes that help us understand that we’re not alone in our suffering. The events in our lives happen for a reason, and through our experiences we come to understand a few simple truths.
“Should you shield the valleys from the windstorms, you would never see the beauty of their canyons.” – Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
Although the pain we’re going through from the loss of a loved one seems unnecessary, our emotions and experiences make us stronger and shape us into something beautiful. Grief helps us to see how much we care for others. It also helps us treasure our time with our loved ones before they’re gone.
“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.” –Ray Bradbury Fahrenheit 451
What we leave behind when we die has meaning to our loved ones. The memory of a friend or family member is something we hold onto to remember all the love and joy they gave us. Everyone leaves behind a legacy, and as long as people remember it, that person never really leaves us.
“To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us protection forever.” – J.K. Rowling
The difficulty of losing someone we love can affect us in many negative ways, but there are always positive aspects to grief. The love we experienced from our lost love one while they were alive can help to heal the wounds of grief and helps us remember how lucky we really are.
If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, put me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.” –A.A. Milne
We never really part from our loved ones so long as we have our memories of them. Although they may not physically be with us, their presence is still felt when we keep their memory close to our hearts.
“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” – C.S. Lewis
Losing someone is a scary thing. We can feel frightened when they leave us, but we shouldn’t be afraid to let them go. Death is a natural part of life that comes to us all, and it brings with it an end to suffering. We can rest easy knowing our loved one is at peace.
Thank you for reading! Come visit MeadowLawn, Funeral Home, Crematory and Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas!
It’s hard to lose a pet. You feel like part of your soul is gone, and in a way, it is. Pets sneak their way into our hearts with their adorable faces and loving cuddles, so it stands to reason that you want their memory preserved both in your heart and in your home. Here are seven creative ways to memorialize your pet using their ashes.
1.) Diamonds Are Forever
Pet lovers will agree that no price is too high when it comes to their fur baby. LifeGem uses your pet’s ashes to create a splendid diamond (yes, a real diamond!), but that’s not all. They also offer a full range of cremation jewelry to set your precious gemstone in to wear in your pet’s memory. It may be expensive, but this way you can carry them with you wherever you go.
2.) The Ash Tree
From the ashes of death comes life. Your pet may be gone, but he or she can grow into a beautiful tree with the help of the Bios Urn. A fully biodegradable pot containing a seed is placed on top of your pet’s ashes. While the pot degrades, the ashes help fertilize the soil to help the tree grow. Your pet is giving new life even after they’ve passed.
3.) The Final Frontier
Celestis, Inc. has provided those who are grieving an opportunity to memorialize their loved ones with a space trip. Your pet could very well reach galaxies and constellations that you could only dream of going to. A flight capsule containing your pet’s ashes can be sent into orbit or launched clear into deep space.
4.) Enjoy The Classics
Vinyl record fans will love this option. Much like LifeGem, AndVinyly uses your pet’s ashes to create something authentic and unique – a compilation of your favorite music. Set the needle and listen to a few tracks of nostalgic songs that remind you of your furry friend. You can also record their meows and barks for a real life soundtrack. Just listening will make you feel all warm inside.
5.) Keep Them Close To Your Heart and Home
Meadowlawn Funeral Home has been dedicated to providing the very best in cremation services since 1991. We have Several options are available for memorializing your furry loved one:
• Ashes To Pendants – Your pet will stick close to your heart when you’re wearing a pendant containing their ashes. Not only is the pendant beautiful, but it’s incredibly meaningful as well.
• All Together Urns – Meadowlawn sells larger urns to hold multiple sets of ashes, so pet owners with several pets over their lifetime don’t have to buy a separate urn each time. There’s no need for urns to take up an entire shelf; put them all together to save space on your mantelpiece.
• In The Garden – With Meadowlawn’s garden rock urns, you’ll think of your pet every time you go out to trim, weed or plant. Garden rock urns can be set by themselves or placed in a stone foundation.
We have a variety of these 3 urns at our location in San Antonio, come check us and and see which option is best for you.
Thank you for reading! Come visit MeadowLawn, Funeral Home, Crematory and Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas!