Funerals are a time for friends and family to celebrate the life of someone who passed. Those who are closest to the recently deceased will be in charge of arranging the funeral, as well as the gathering that takes place afterward. As a guest at the funeral it is important to follow proper etiquette when it comes to attending the gathering after the service and burial, so as to ensure you are not imposing on the family.
After the funeral, it is customary for the individual leading the service to make an announcement about gathering together afterward. If the family has is announced. Listen for an invitation to gather with the family after the funeral. However, if you do not hear this invitation extended, it is poor form to show up at the family's home when the funeral has ended. Generally, if people are not inviting others over, they probably want to keep the gathering small.
It is not good etiquette to bring a gift to the reception gathering after a funeral. Gifts are not expected at this time, but cards of sympathy and condolences are always welcome. However, if you wish to do something special for the family of the deceased, you may bring them food in private during the days leading up to or following the funeral. A homemade casserole or a frozen lasagne is thoughtful and really helps the family members because it saves them from having to prepare their own meals as they experience their loss and grief.
Bringing children, toddlers and babies to funerals and post-funeral gatherings can be uplifting due to their youthfulness and innocence. However, if your children become fussy and cranky or begin crying, it is proper etiquette to excuse yourself and your kids from the gathering unless you are urged to stay. During the reception or gathering after the funeral, it is customary for people to share stories about the deceased and there may even be a slide show to watch. Fussy, crying children interrupt the integrity of this moment for the loved ones.
Understanding various cultural beliefs and religious etiquette helps you know the boundaries for grieving with the bereaved. For example, in the Jewish religion it is customary for just family to grieve together after the funeral in a process known as sitting Shivah. After the first day, friends and others are welcome to join the family for post-funeral gatherings in the home, as they continue sitting Shivah for the deceased. Whenever you are invited to a cultural or religious gathering after a funeral, do some research and find out what to expect so your etiquette is always appropriate.