Karen La Corte is an
etiquette and manners
expert trained and certi-
fied by the Emily Post
Institute in Vermont. She
has been teaching eti-
quette and manners to
children and adults for
over thirty years. She is
also a certified image
and fashion consultant.
Karen is happy to answer
any personal etiquette or
image questions you may
have by emailing her at
BY KAREN LA CORTE
ooner or later we all have to face the loss of a loved
one. We are also going to have a friend or colleague
who will lose someone close to them. The recent
passing of my dear father-in-law, Frank, prompted me
to share some funeral etiquette with you.
Once the initial shock is over, some harsh realities set in.
Grief comes in many forms and how each of us deals with it is
very personal. It’s all right to cry and feel sad. There is no right
or wrong way to grieve. It is emotional and stressful for every-
one involved. But, in spite of the loss we are facing, decisions
must be made.
Knowing the deceased’s wishes is very important. Did they
want a funeral or a memorial? Burial or cremation? A mass
or just a graveside service? Hopefully they left something in
writing, or expressed their wishes to a loved one before their
passing. At this point, a family gathering to discuss the plans
is in order.
Some folks like to go it alone when their mate or significant
other has passed—others look to their family or friends for
support. Then it is time to call your local funeral home to make
an appointment. Funeral arrangements can be as complex or
as simple as you would like. Appointing one person to handle
this process makes a lot of sense as too many chiefs can make
decision making difficult. That person can aid you and your
funeral director in making this process a pleasant one.
I know I am biased, but Habing Family Funeral Home is
my choice. I grew up with this family and they are professional,
caring, and considerate. I’ve had to deal with several funeral
homes in my lifetime, and my experience with the Habing
Family was by far the most personal. The funeral director will
meet with you and present all your options including types of
service, officiants, eulogy, pallbearers, flowers, prayer cards, the
obituary, caskets, and music, as well as your budget. Yikes! It’s
a lot. Some folks like to pre-plan their service and pay for it in
advance to unburden the family of this task and for their own
peace of mind. I am confident in sending you, my dear readers,
to this family in your time of need.
I’d like to focus now on what you can do for those you
love who have lost someone.
A funeral is a celebration of someone’s life. It is a time
to share all the good and loving memories that our friend
or family member has given us. It is a time to honor that
person. Just as we celebrate the birth of someone coming
into this world, a person’s passing, with all of their life’s
accomplishments and loving actions, should be celebrated
as well. I’ve spoken to a few people who have said, “Well I
don’t do funerals.” I tell them I know it is sad, but oftentimes
you don’t just go for the deceased, but for the living. It is just
as important to be there for your friend who lost her mother
even if you didn’t know the mother. You are going in support
of your friend. I told my husband Frank, “Trust me when I say
that you will remember everyone who comes to your father’s
funeral. Even if you don’t see them, just knowing they are
there will mean the world to you.”
GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN
I was recently in Ireland. On tour, we were supposed to
visit a church but it was closed for a funeral service. To honor
the woman who had passed away every business in town
placed a flyer in their window, with her picture, information
about the funeral service, and a brief paragraph about her
life. What a wonderful custom!
When someone passes away and you’re unable to
attend the funeral, there are things you can do for the family,
depending on how close you are.
• Call them. Offer your sincere condolences. Be brief.
• Respond on social media. We are in the technology
age whether we like it or not. Kind words of sympathy
to your friend who opens their heart on Facebook is
welcomed and acceptable.
• Send flowers. You can send flowers to the residence or
the funeral home for the service.
• Bring food. The traditional family casserole is welcomed
here. Full dinner, baked goods, or any side dish is
appropriate and appreciated.
• Go to the house to pay your respects. If you are close,
this is the ultimate expression of love.
• Send a donation to your favorite charity in