4 Funeral Etiquette Rules for a Wake

If you are invited to a wake, which is a visitation with the body present, there are some things to keep in mind. While this is usually separate from the funeral or memorial service, you still need to practice proper funeral etiquette. Here are some important rules to live by when you attend a wake.

Dress Appropriately

The proper dress for a wake is similar to a funeral, though it can sometimes be slightly more casual. If it is a formal wake, it will be at a funeral home so you should wear what you would to a funeral. However, if it is held at someone's soon, you can dress more casually. In general, it is acceptable to wear dark or muted colors to a wake. Many people dress in black, but grays and other somber colors are still appropriate. You can wear other colors as well, but be careful with what you choose.

You should avoid brightly-colored clothing, such as Hawaiian shirts or bright yellows and oranges. Those colors express joy and happiness, so it is often viewed as disrespectful when worn at a wake. Your family may be accustomed to more casual clothing, so it is okay to go along with what others typically wear.

Avoid Talking about How the Body Looks

A wake will typically be with the body or remains, which may also include an open casket. This gives friends and loved ones a chance to say goodbye. The funeral home will do their best to embalm the body and apply makeup and dress to make it look as natural as possible. However, the person's body might look different than what you remember. It is very important that you not comment on how the body looks while you are at a wake.

This can be difficult for others to hear, especially if you are speaking about it negatively. Speaking about it positively is okay under certain circumstances, but it is best to leave this out of your conversations completely. The exception is if someone asks a question about how the body looks and you answer them.

Turn Off Your Cell Phone

This is good general etiquette advice for many occasions, and wakes are no exception. You should not have your cell phone turned on during a wake. Even with the ringer off, you might hear it vibrate and be tempted to check for text messages or read an email. You should not be pulling out your cell phone during a wake as it is rude. You should leave it in your car or turn it off completely. When at the wake, try not to use your cell phone at all unless it is an urgent situation.

Sign the Guest Book

Lastly, take a moment to sign the guest book. This is usually located near the front door, so you can sign it when you arrive or before you leave. The family will most likely want to read the guest book at a later date and may not have time to say hello to everyone attending the wake. It only takes a minute and will be treasured by the deceased's loved ones. Some guest books only require a name while others want you to input your relationship to the deceased and a short note. Keep it brief and polite, keeping in mind others can also read it. For more tips, talk to a professional like Suess Bernard Funeral Home Inc.