Etiquette at Luncheons After Funerals

by Sara Ipatenco

Funerals are somber gatherings that give people a chance to say goodbye to a friend or family member. Often, a luncheon is served after the funeral and internment, and there are certain etiquette rules that go along with attending this more light-hearted affair. If you've been asked to join family and friends at a post-funeral luncheon, brush up on the proper behavior for such an event so you can show your respect and support the family through their grief.

Invitation

Only attend a funeral luncheon if you've been invited -- don't assume that everyone who attends the funeral is invited to the reception afterward. The Planning A Funeral website advises that if everyone who comes to the service is invited to a reception, you can expect either the officiant of the funeral or a family member to make a general announcement with the time and location details. In this case, you're welcome to attend without a personal invitation.

Behavior

A post-funeral luncheon is a time to remember a loved one and offer support to family members and friends. It's not a time to party and be loud. It's perfectly acceptable to laugh quietly and remember good things about the deceased, but it's not a time to tell inappropriate or obnoxious stories. Instead, offer hugs and a compassionate ear to your friends and family members who want to reminisce. Keep your cell phone on silent mode during the reception; if you must make or take a call, do it outside. If the luncheon takes place in a private home, pitch in with washing dishes or picking up trash.

Gifts

It's not appropriate to bring a gift to a funeral luncheon. Most people don't want to open gifts while they're mourning a loved one, and funeral receptions don't include time like a birthday party for opening presents. You can, however, bring a sympathy card. If you really want to give the family a gift, make time to share your thoughtfulness in the days following the funeral. A common gift is food, such as lasagna or a casserole, which allows family and friends time to grieve without having to worry about making meals. Don't bring the food to the funeral reception; drop it off after the reception or offer to stop by with a meal a few days after the service. The same goes for charitable gifts. If you want to give to charity in the deceased's name, do so, but don't advertise it during the funeral luncheon; send a note to the family shortly after the funeral.

Additional Etiquette

Dress appropriately to attend a funeral luncheon. You don't have to wear all black, but dress as if you were going to a formal religious service. If you bring your children to the luncheon, keep a close eye on them so they behave respectfully. If your children start to get out of hand, take them outside to regroup or take them home. Don't leave without saying goodbye to the close family and friends of the deceased. Offer a hug, a word or two of support and your condolences.

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

Photo Credits

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