It is customary for the decedent’s family to hold a wake for visiting family and friends before the funeral. The days of the wake and funeral present opportunities for the deceased’s friends, colleagues, and relatives to pay their last respects and offer comfort to family members left behind.
It is also at this time when visiting friends would send in flowers, sympathy cards, sympathy gifts, or donations to the family’s preferred organization or charity.
The experience of loss and bereavement can be especially challenging to the decedent’s immediate family members. Whether you are the deceased’s close friend, colleague, or neighbor, conducting yourself properly during the wake and the funeral is a must.
Even the sending of sympathy gifts should be done with careful thought, depending on the situation and the expressed wishes of family members.
Is There a Need to Give Sympathy Gifts During the Wake Or the Day of the Funeral?
Sympathy gifts can come in the form of sympathy cards, flower arrangements, even memorial jewelry. While it’s customary for some people to send in flowers and cards during the wake and visitation, some may also send in their tokens during the day of the funeral itself.
It’s not unheard of for some people to bring their remembrance gifts personally to the funeral; however, sending them through courier may be ideal in certain circumstances. On the day of the funeral itself, the bereaved family could already be feeling emotionally and physically exhausted. The last thing you would want is to add to their existing burdens and concerns on this very day.
A good alternative is to bring the sympathy gift straight to their address or send it via shipping services. If you must hand the gifts personally, make sure that you don’t use up much of the family’s time. You could also include a handwritten note or card along with your memorial gift. If you prefer sending the gift at a much later time, this can also be feasible. It’s not uncommon for people to still send memorial tokens during the first death anniversary or on special occasions such as Christmas.
What to Remember: Important Wake and Funeral Etiquette
Other than the giving of sympathy gifts, conducting one’s self properly during the days of the wake or funeral is important.
If you personally do not know the family of the deceased, take the effort to introduce yourself and your connection to their lost loved one. If the wake is limited to family, relatives, and intimate friends and you have not received an invitation, it is best to respect the wishes of the family and not attend.
It also helps to know the time of the funeral services beforehand. Don’t arrive too early or be late. When it comes to dressing up, conservative is best. A wake or funeral is not the time to draw unnecessary attention. If you must converse with family members, do more listening than talking. Oftentimes, saying how sorry you are for their loss is appropriate and enough.
Offering a Sincere Gesture of Love and Sympathy at a Time of Loss
Sympathy gift etiquette also goes hand in hand with the sending of sympathy gifts. The giving of how-to pregnancy books to a friend who has suffered a miscarriage doesn’t really come across as sensitive. In the same way, sending cremation memorial jewelry to someone who does not favor cremation is tantamount to wasting a potentially meaningful gift.
Although attending funerals and giving sympathy gifts can be difficult and tricky, a little preparation could go a long way. By knowing beforehand how to behave and which tokens to send, you can spare yourself the unnecessary embarrassment or expense.
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