There are etiquette rules every funeral guest should follow, and there’s the protocol for the departed’s immediate family, the people who plan the service and see the details through alongside the funeral director. But rightfully or not, what happens before a viewing is often treated as taboo. So we asked Caleb Wilde, a sixth-generation funeral director at Wilde Funeral Home in Parkesburg, Pennsylvania, and author of Confessions of a Funeral Director: How the Business of Death Saved My Life, to share his professional opinions on the matter. Here’s what he says often isn’t discussed, but should be.
9Never assume your loved ones know what kind of service you want.
Wilde sees infighting among families when “each person thinks they know what [the deceased] wanted, and each has a different opinion. Funeral directors become Jerry Springer when there hasn’t been any planning for this moment.”
“If we haven’t talked about it and dad hasn’t said, ‘I don’t want a religious service, just have a party for me,’ there’s a lot of room for interpretation,” adds Wilde, “and it’s often interpreted through our wants. For the family who wants an evangelical service, for example, all of a sudden they’ll remember dad saying that’s what he wanted.”