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Funeral Procession Etiquette

Richmond, VA funeral home

If you will be attending a funeral service and you will take part in the procession that comes after it, in which either people drive or walk to escort the decease to the burial site, you may not have a clear idea to what to expect. As with any other part of the funeral service, the procession does have its etiquette rules. A Richmond, VA funeral home director can share the tips that you need to know before attending.  

One of the most crucial things you need to remember is to arrive on time to the location from where the procession will begin. Usually, the funeral home director will provide instructions a few minutes before the start of the procession, so you need to be there, ready to listen. Be sure to follow all of the instructions. If you are not clear on anything, ask someone for help.  

Once you get in your vehicle, be sure to turn on the lights. This is the sign that you are part of the procession, which will give you passage if the streets are crowded. If you are the last car in the procession, you will be asked to place two flags at the back of your vehicle and to drive with the hazard lights on.  

It is important to follow the lead and stay in line. If the procession has a police escort, as many do, you will want to pay close attention to what they want the vehicles to do. Do not, for any reason, speed. Not only is this dangerous to those around you, but it is also disrespectful to those who are mourning and to the deceased. If the procession has to go through a busy street or a highway, try to keep no more than two cars away, but without speeding. Many times, this is easier than it sounds because people will gladly move ahead of them if they know you are part of the funeral procession.  

If you are the last vehicle or if you are part of a procession in which all vehicles were given flags to place on their cars, you need to be careful with them. They are not yours to keep, but will instead be collected at the burial site. Show them respect and return them when it is time.  

All of these tips can help you take part of a funeral procession without worries about breaking any rules of etiquette. It is essential that you be courteous to the family that is grieving and that you behave in a respectful manner. If you are ever confused as to what you should be doing, turn to the funeral director. He or she will be able to guide you. To learn more about these procession, reach out to a funeral home in Richmond, VA like Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service. They will be more than happy to assist you. Stop by their location at 6500 Iron Bridge Rd Richmond, VA 23234 or call them right now at (804) 275-7828. 

How to Select Pallbearers

Colonial Heights, VA funeral home

The carrying of the casket to the hearse that will take it to the burial location after the funeral service is done by people called pallbearers. These can be provided by the funeral home or you can choose them. For most people, choosing pallbearers allows them to give loved ones the opportunity to honor the deceased. Of course, careful consideration must be given to who will be a pallbearer. If you are starting the process of making these kinds of decisions, Colonial Heights, VA funeral home directors have suggestions that can help.  

Physical strength is definitely one of the first things you need to consider. Although there are usually six pallbearers, they each have to be able to do some of the lifting. People who are ill or who are not naturally strong are not the best option. This does not mean, however, that only men should be considered. Lots of families have all-female pallbearers. If you would still like to have a particular person who you know is not strong enough to do the job, you can make them honorary pallbearers.  

Another consideration is whether the person you are considering can make it through the ceremony in an emotional state that allows them to do the lifting. People who are going through a very rough grieving period might not be able to hold it together for long enough to help. Choose people who feel the loss but who you are certain will not break down during the service. If you have any doubts about this with anyone you choose, the best thing to do is to choose someone else. You do not want to put extra worries or stress on the person who is suffering so badly.  

You want to choose people who are reliable. The last thing you need when going through such a difficult and stressful moment is to have to worry about people not getting to the service on time. Do not choose people who are constantly late or who do not show up at all.  

The pallbearers do not necessarily have to be relatives to the deceased. Many times, friends were closer to the person than family, and it makes more sense to give them the honor. If your loved one did not leave a list of their preferred pallbearers, you will want to make a careful list of the people he or she was closest with.  

Selecting pallbearers is not something that should be done in a hurry. It is an important decision and it requires careful thought. If you still have worries or are not sure about the tasks a pallbearer will have to perform during the service, speak with an expert at a funeral home in Colonial Heights, VA. By reaching out to a company like Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service, you can get the guidance that you need. Visit them at 6500 Iron Bridge Rd Richmond, VA 23234 or schedule an appointment right now by calling (804) 275-7828. 

The Family Mess

There are two events that bring families together – weddings and funerals. Both reveal much about the dysfunctional family. Weddings can produce a temporary armistice on the battleground of an eclectic gaggle of parents, ex-spouses, in-laws and “out-laws”,aunts and uncles, as well as that cousin no one wants to talk about. Civility reigns at for least a few hours into the reception when alcohol induced inhibition kicks in.

The funeral can also reveal family dysfunction. Clergy and funeral directors often find themselves caught in the family-feud crossfire. Much like a wedding, grieving families often bring elements of tension, resentment and bitterness into the arrangement meeting. Some families express embarrassment and struggle to know just what to say about the deceased. As a pastor and celebrant, I have faced the challenge of preparing a service with some interesting dynamics. A friend of one family said that it was best to take the deceased in limited doses. On one occasion, I prepared a service for a man whose wide reputation as a bigoted bully preceded him – “the elephant in the room”. A church member once told me that her husband would have to pay people to be his pallbearers. I sat with another family to plan the service and the tension engulfed the room like a thick cloud. In each case, the challenge was to find a way to celebrate a life few people enjoyed being around; to balance truth and compassion. I learned early on that even though the deceased was as mean as a rattlesnake, the funeral service is not the place to point that out. Here are some of the things I shared as a celebrant about one particularly controversial life.

I set the tone saying that the deceased was a complex man; that he was one of a kind. Even as I uttered those “funeral correct”words, the left side of my brain was saying,“That’s a polite way of saying that just about everybody disliked this jerk.” I pointed to the truth that, like all of us, he had many sides to his personality. Some people are triangles and some are rectangles. But this guy was an octagon! And your take on him depended on which side you of the octagon you encountered. He was a “preferred dish”, as a family friend delicately put it. He could be down-right ornery and lovingly compassionate. It was his way or no way, but he tenderly sacrificed so much for his invalid wife.He saw things as black or white yet, was artistically gifted – A NASCAR guy who liked classical music – a career military officer who enjoyed interior decorating.Go figure!

Families are complex. Relationships are messy. There are moments when it’s as if a spotlight shines on just one side of our multi-sided lives. I’ve felt the heat from that spotlight when I have behaved in surprising ways that brought me embarrassment.I have felt exposed by the light when acting like an idiot. And it would be easy for someone to judge who I am by one or two illuminated sides of my rectangular life. But I am so glad that my entire life is not summed up by those regrettable side moments. The truth is, some people make it so easy to dislike them from all sides.

My dad was one of those people. His behavior was embarrassing to the family. In the end, my dad and I rebuilt the bridge to each other. And that began when I saw my older brother take the first step. It set the example for other family members as well. Other bridges were rebuilt, and relationships restored. Now, that isn’t to say that our relationship with our dad was warm and fuzzy, but it was just workable. Thirty years after his death, I can still smile when I tell people that my dad was a real “Weird-mobile”. Complex people can drive us crazy, test our limits and push the boundaries of love. But, at the end of a life, we do the right thing. We bring dignity to their lives with gestures of respect.

I concluded that uncomfortable funeral service reminding everyone that honoring the departed is a sacred act. It is sacred,because every life is sacred and has value to someone.

Families tasked with “making proper arrangements” can embrace the opportunity to build bridges, experience forgiveness and embrace reconciliation. It simply takes one person to make the first move to initiate a domino effect of something beyond mere tolerance.  

When the service ended, I was concerned that the family might have been offended by what I had shared, but quite the contrary. I was approached by several family and friends of the deceased who thanked me for “saying what needed to be said with compassion.” Lesson learned. In celebrating a life, don’t portray the person as someone they were not. That would be not only disingenuous but insulting. Honesty with compassion helps bring closure. It can bring détente to dysfunctional families and help them understand their common ground of the wearying effects of living with a complex “octagon”.The one whom they buried or cremated was the ground zero of their family mess. They can now choose to build new bridges with each other of understanding, empathy and care.


Greg Webber has served as pastor of churches in Kentucky, Michigan and Virginia. He currently serves as The Director of Aftercare, Certified Celebrant and Trained Survivor of Suicide Support Group Facilitatorfor Morrissett Funeral & Cremation Service. Contact him at greg@morrissett.com.

Memorial Service Ideas

The memorial service that you have for your loved one should be as unique as they were. People tend to think that services have to be done in one particular way but this is not the case. You can be creative and put together a memorial that will bring your loved one’s personality forward and allow guests to say their goodbyes. If you are not sure where to begin when considering ideas for a memorial service, Midlothian, VA funeral homes have some suggestions.  

Midlothian, VA funeral homes

If your loved one was someone who enjoyed music and encouraging local artists, a great way to celebrate them and to add personality to their memorial service can be to hire local musicians to play. These days, many people choose to put together playlists, or have recordings, but having live musicians can be a wonderful tribute to the person you have lost.  

A good way to make a memorial service unique is to consider where you will have it. If you want to have it at the funeral home of your choice, then you have to think of decorating in a way that brings your loved one’s personality to the forefront. For people who prefer to have it somewhere else, take the time to think of what your loved one enjoyed doing. Did they like being outdoors? Did they like the beach? This can help you choose the right location.  

Instead of a regular memorial service, you may want to host a celebration of life. For people who were always happy and always ready for a party, it can feel strange to memorialize them by having a somber event. Instead, a celebration of life can allow people to honor their life without sadness. More and more often, people are choosing this option. If you do decide on this, be sure to let all of your guests know that is the plan so that no one is taken by surprise.  

During the service and instead of having one professional portrait of the person you have lost, you can have a slideshow of images. You can even ask people to provide images they may have of your loved one so that everyone gets to participate. It can be a really moving tribute that is wholly unique.  

All of these ideas can help you put together a memorial service that is beautiful and that offers the kind of comfort that people want. It is always important to consider your loved one’s personality and what they enjoyed doing, since this can provide clues as to what kind of service can really honor them. Take the time to speak with the funeral home in Midlothian, VA that you are hiring, since they will often have excellent suggestions that can make the planning process a bit easier. Turn to a company like Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service for more information. You can reach them by visiting 6500 Iron Bridge Rd Richmond, VA 23234 or by giving them a call at (804) 275-7828 today.  

The Holidays after a Loss

The holidays can bring back a lot of memories of someone you loved who is no longer with you. This can make it a debilitating time of the year, making people relive their grief or experience what they are already feeling even more strongly. Getting through the celebrations can be difficult, but it is possible to do. Because Dale City, VA funeral home directors see this kind of issue regularly, they have some suggestions that can make a difference.  

Dale City, VA funeral home

The first thing you need to do is to acknowledge what you are feeling. Many people try to push aside the grief or pretend it is not happening, but this is detrimental and can actually make the grief worse. Accept that you will be sad and that you will grieve for the person you have lost. It is also common to feel some anger or frustration at other people, who will seem like they are celebrating without you or who you may think have forgotten about your loss. This is normal and you should also embrace the emotion.  

A very important thing to do is to also try to remove as much stress from the holidays as you can. The holidays are usually stressful because of the need for preparations and gifts, but there are ways you can reduce this. If you dislike crowds, for example, do some of your holiday shopping online. If you usually host a party or event but you do not feel up to it this year, do not force yourself to do it. Ask someone else to do it or cancel the event. Simple things like not accepting every invitation you receive for parties or other celebrations can be of great help.  

Reveling in small enjoyments can allow you to celebrate the holidays in an emotionally safe manner. Instead of trying to be happy and enthusiastic all of the time, and feeling disappointed when you cannot muster up that kind of cheer, take it slowly and celebrate the moments when you do feel happy. This can be as simple and quiet a moment as enjoying a mug of tea.  

You should also consider adding your loved one into the celebrations. Lots of people choose to purchase an ornament engraved with their name or anything else that feels meaningful. It can be a lovely way to remember your loved one while still celebrating the holidays.  

Do not expect the first holiday after a loss to be easy. All of your traditions will bring to mind your loved one and with the memories, sadness. These suggestions can help, however, so that you can get through the celebrations. If you find that you are still struggling, funeral homes in Dale City, VA always have excellent counseling contacts in the area. Reach out to Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service, which you can find at 6500 Iron Bridge Rd Richmond, VA 23234, or give them a call right now at (804) 275-7828 to hear about available assistance. 

Grief and Time

“Time heals all wounds” is a phrase that most of us have heard. It is also something that many would say is not actually true. Those who have suffered the death of a close loved one know the truth~ some wounds never heal.  We just learn how to live with them.

When death first occurs the pain can be so overwhelming that we wonder how we can face another day. Yet somehow, inexplicably, we do. Eventually we find that on some days we can think about our loved one and smile. Other days the tears still flow freely. There is no way of knowing which feelings will prevail at any given moment.  

The years pass and we learn how to manage. The pain is still there, but it doesn’t catch us off-guard as often. Then suddenly, all these years later, it can all come roaring back. It either smacks us in the face like a cold blast of icy air that takes away our breath, or it creeps up on us slowly. We feel the deep ache start to spread in our body and our soul like the start of the flu, but we know the truth of what is really wrong. Of what will never truly be right again, because the person we loved is gone.

It can come without warning, without forgiveness, without a trigger. When it happens we may realize we haven’t cried in a while. That gut-wrenching, crying until we can’t breathe and almost throw up kind of cry. It has been too long since we released all that poison from our body so it has built up inside of us. It catches us by the throat, rising up, choking. It  forces us to face our pain, even if we don’t want to.

And so we cry, but feel like we have to do it alone. Very few people will understand because “it’s been so many years now!” They think we should be further along in the grief process. Time makes it better, right? 

No, time makes it different. 

Time marches us further and further away from the point where our lives intersected with the one we loved. As we watch that point fade away in the distance it heightens our grief in a way. It reminds us of how many moments we are missing with them. Time changes us, and reminds us that they aren’t here to see the person we have become. Every new milestone, every new happy moment feels like a new little death because they aren’t here to share it with us. 

Triggers can come out of nowhere, and it might be something that hadn’t bothered us before. Ten times we might be able to listen to a song that reminds us of the person we lost, but that eleventh time it hits with gut-wrenching memories and that sinking feeling of our heart breaking all over again.

So what should we do if we find ourselves facing that all-too-familiar grief again? First of all, we shouldn’t feel like we need to hide it our apologize. Each of us grieves in our own time, and in our own way. No one else has the right to judge us for how we process those feelings. What matters is that we do process them. That we let the tears some if we need to.

So we cry it out, as long as it takes. Then we wipe the tears off our soggy chin and neck, and we begin again.

And we keep that song on our playlist, even if it makes us cry. Because we never, ever want to forget. 

Jennifer Roberts Bittner
Funeral Celebrant/ Life Tribute Specialist

Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service
6500 Iron Bridge Rd.
N. Chesterfield, VA 23234
Serving the Richmond area since 1870