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Etiquette for Services of Remembrance

Is it really that important for me to attend a Funeral or Memorial Service?

There are two reasons for attending a Service of Remembrance.  First for yourself because you want to honor the person who has passed away. You seek closure to your relationship with your loved one. And you want to reminisce with others about their life.

Secondly, for the family of the deceased. They may be your family, friends, or someone you seek to console. By attending the service, it shows the family that this person’s life truly meant something to others.  There’s nothing better than to see evidence that your loved one made a difference to others by the number of people who attend.

 It’s OK to Cry and It’s OK to Laugh

Grieving the life of someone we love and miss is difficult because it’s so emotional.  Mourning is the things we do to honor the life of that person.  Therefore, it’s perfectly fine for a Service of Remembrance to be both sad and happy. Looking at photos will remind us of happy and fun times we shared, so we’ll smile and laugh.  But then our thoughts may drift to the realization that we will no longer have opportunities to share experiences with them, and the tears will flow.  So bring plenty of tissues… you may find yourself laughing so hard you’ll cry!  And that’s okay.

When is the Best Time to Arrive?

If the service is scheduled to begin at ten o’clock, you should plan on arriving at least at ten minutes early to allow time to greet people, sign the guest register, and be seated with a couple minutes to spare.

It’s never okay to arrive late. In doing so, you create a disturbance for others as you look for a place to sit. This is not the time to make a fashionable entrance. The focus needs to be on the one being honored.

Sometimes being late cannot be avoided. If you find yourself arriving after the service has started, slip into the back of the room and make every effort not to disturb those around you.

Should young children attend a service?

It is a good thing for children to learn about the normality of death and mourning rituals when members of the family pass on. It is fine for children to attend who are mature enough to understand that a Service of Remembrance is a time to be quiet and respectful of others during the gathering.  However, if children are too young to sit quietly for an extended length of time, it would probably be best to make other arrangements for them.  When young children or babies create a disturbance during a service such as this, it can be frustrating for others, as well as for the parents.

Because funeral homes usually do not provide a space for children to get the wiggles out, or toys to play with, their parents should provide something to occupy them quietly. Especially for their safety, children who attend a Service of Remembrance, as well as the reception following the service, should be supervised by responsible adults at all times.

 Family Dynamics

When a loved one dies, emotions sometimes flare and dissention between family members may heighten.  This is not the time for public display of negative reactions among relatives.  This is a time to focus on the deceased, the life they lived, and what they mean to each person, rather than bringing up past offenses. A harmonious service will show great respect for your loved one.  Personal differences should be handled later.

 What’s the Right Thing to Say?

If you find yourself wondering, “What should I say?” A simple, “I’m sorry for your loss,” will be all that’s necessary to let them know you care.  You can also offer to help by asking, “What can I do to help?” or “I’d like to bring a meal, what day will be best?” are much better than, “If there’s anything I can do, let me know.” or “Give me a call when you’re ready to talk.” Be genuine when you offer to help.


The Importance of Flowers

They serve as a tribute at the service of the deceased, adding decoration, beauty, fragrance and life to a somber event. They are symbolic not only of love and sympathy, but also of eternity and immortality.

Throughout the world, flowers have played an important role in funeral customs because of their fragrant beauty and comforting qualities.  In ancient times, tradition called for loved ones to use flowers and herbs to anoint the bodies of the deceased, while aromatic flowers and plants were used to decorate the burial site. Today, flowers remain one of the most beautiful ways to express our condolences when words fail us.

Finding a Florist

If you’re not familiar with florists in the area, consult your Funeral Director or his guidance for recommendations of florists that will provide the best service and quality.  On-line floral services may not necessarily provide the highest quality.  Most local florists will fill orders placed by friends and family who are out of the area. You can visit their website to find out what they have to offer or speak with the florist directly so they can work with you to create a personalized arrangement.

Where to send the flowers

You should send flowers for the funeral or graveside service to the funeral home. They will transport flowers to the appropriate location for the service.  It is not necessary to send flowers for each separate service.

What type of arrangement is appropriate?

Florists offer wreaths, large arrangements, and bouquets.  They will usually work with you if you have something in mind that is unique to your experience with the deceased or that reflects their interests.  If you have special flowers and colors in mind, let the florist know so they can include them in the arrangement.  Large potted plants are also a thoughtful touch and can give the family a remembrance for their home following the service.

Does “In Lieu of Flowers” mean I can’t send flowers?

This is the family’s way of saying that instead of sending flowers, family and friends are welcome to make a donation for a more lasting tribute.  However, if you wish to send flowers for the service, you may do both. Your donation will honor the family request and the flowers will add beauty to the service.

Flowers for the Casket  

Often referred to as a “casket spray,” the flowers that will sit on top of the casket are most often provided by the family.  Following the burial, they are laid on top of the grave site.  If cremation is selected and the urn is present at the funeral, your florist will be able to design a beautiful arrangement with the urn as the focal point.

I just heard the sad news… is it too late to send flowers or a card?

It’s never too late to let the family know you are thinking of them.  Receiving flowers or a card at their home is an encouragement because it lets them know they, as well as their loved one, are remembered.

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Heritage Oaks Memorial Chapel
FD 1990
6920 Destiny Drive
Rocklin  CA  95677
(916) 791-2273

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