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manners MATTER Funeral Etiquette 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 S 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 FEBRUARY/MARCH 2018 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