Saturday, May 12, 2012

I Know You Mean Well, But...

Might I take a moment of your time to discuss with you those well-meaning folks who seem to have lost their tact? 

Let's talk about Funeral Home Etiquette. 

It's perfectly fine for you to walk up to the casket and to spend a moment silently gazing upon the deceased.  It's also perfectly fine if you wish to speak words of consolation to the family.  It is not fine for you to ask a close relative of the deceased, "Is this how she really looked or did the funeral home go overboard?  Sometimes they can get the makeup all wrong." 

If you don't know the person, why are you there?  Are you casing the place to see how they handle the makeup of the deceased so you will know whether you want them doing yours?  Trust me, honey, if they'd gotten the makeup wrong, there are enough people in the family to bring it to some one's attention before you got there. 

The other side of that statement might be taken to mean that you think the makeup is excessive or not "right."  I'm sure you are perfectly nice person, but rest assured that my family is Southern in nature.  They will not tolerate a slight like that.  Someone from my family will just pop in to the funeral home when you are being prepared for the viewing and will convince them that whatever they've done to your face is not enough.  You will look like Bozo the Clown and Tammy Faye Baker rolled into one.  That's not a threat, I'm just telling you what could happen.

A more appropriate thing to say is, "I'm so sorry for your loss.  Please let me know if I can do anything for you or the rest of the family."

While we're still on the topic of funeral home etiquette, please dress appropriately.  Funeral homes are either freezing cold or sweltering hot.  There is no "comfortable" temperature in a funeral home.  You should probably consider dressing in layers. 

In the South, we tend to run on the freezing cold side.  We see you over there.  We know your lips are turning as blue as your hair.  Bring a sweater, a shawl, a jacket, a blanket, or whatever you need to be comfortable.  We won't turn the air down, though.  Here in the more Southern climate, we like to tell people that we've got to get the temperature down low early on so "...we can stay ahead of the heat."  The truth is, it's hotter than blue flaming pits of Hell outside and we've been running around and in and out all day long and the heat was getting to us. 

We also know that if you get cold enough and we don't do anything about it, you'll leave earlier and you won't be as inclined to take extra cookies and put them in your purse. 

If it's hot in a Southern funeral home, it's because somebody failed to get ahead of the heat.  If you dress in layers, you will be ready for that, too.  Just get ready to take the layers off and to fan yourself. 

Finally, please explain to your child (adult, too) that shirts that expose your bellybutton piercing are probably not the best choice for funeral home attire.  Here, in Southern Missouri, we will talk about you unmercifully.

I'm just saying...

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