This week was disrupted by some very sad news. My husband’s grandmother departed this world in her deep sleep. She was slightly short of her 90th birthday.
My impressions of the short time that I knew her: She was an incredible woman.
She was wise beyond her years and ever pleasant. She never complained about a single ache or pain in her body — not sure I can say that about the rest of my family, whom I dearly adore including my own grandmother in Iran!
She was funny and always made me laugh. She did not meddle in other people’s lives. She looked beautiful at our wedding. She loved her grandson and the rest of her family to pieces and she even respected my choice on not having offspring. She was happy and fulfilled.
The world felt right to her and she was also ready to embrace death. She had strong beliefs around heaven and rejoining her early-departed granddaughter. She will always remain in my heart.
Reminder: You can still grab The Positive Affirmations for Life program with more than 4 hours of audio affirmations for 7 life situations that impact your happiness and success the most.
American funerals are very different from Iranian funerals. Oddly enough, I have never been to an Iranian funeral and yes, here I am making claims about them but listen, stories in an Iranian family get repeated no less than three thousand times so I might as well have been at my own grandfather’s funeral in Iran.
The encounter with grief is overwhelming and the grieving period is long, stretching into weeks and months. The Iranian customs vary a great deal from a Christian ones. For instance, there is no viewing of the dead in the Muslim tradition. The body is washed with soap and water and then wrapped in a very long white cloth called ka-fan (thanks for details, Daddy) before burial, sans coffin.
Black is the color to show that you are grieving. The spouse of the deceased generally wears black for a very long time. My grandmother wore black for a year after the death of my grandfather.
The family of the deceased must provide tons of food to the visitors because this act of giving so much will be a bonus where angels are concerned in the spirit of the deceased. Or so I remember.
Oh and I don’t think Iranians handle death well at all. I surely don’t.
During the funeral services, I noticed behaviors in others that simply did not sit well with me. Whatever has happened to basic etiquette in this world? It is one thing to lack manners in a yoga class, but to come to a funeral and leave your manners at home? I must speak up.
Funeral Etiquette: What to do and not to do at any funeral
Funeral Etiqutte on What to Do:
1. Go. Attend the funeral in person. Miss weddings and baby showers if you must but attend the funerals. People never forget that you attended a funeral and you will bring them comfort and care even if you stay a little while.
2. Wear strictly black and please wear a suit and tie if you are male. It is the universal color of grieving and it shows that you have respect and partake in the grief. Please refrain from wearing flowers and colorful “designs” on your clothing, thank you! My friend Tia suggests otherwise but I say grieving before celebration.
3. Express your sincere condolences directly to the immediate family. Do this even if it pains you. Muster up the courage to tell them that you share in their sorrow. It goes a very long way, this simple act of kindness and compassion.
4. Share a story or a memory with the close family. You will be adding to their treasure “box” of memories.
5. Be on your best behavior. Take along your best manners of greeting and conversing.
6. Contribute to the charity or foundation of their wishes or else take flowers. The amount does not matter. It matters that you do not show up empty-handed.
7. Follow the wishes and traditions of the family. I am not religious but for weddings and funerals of those that I care about, I would gladly spend any necessary time in their house of worship.
8. Perform any favors that is asked of you, be it to sing, to read a poem, to fulfill any other action to fulfill their wishes.
Funeral Etiqutte on What Not to Do:
1. Wear flip-flops. Even if you are 7-months pregnant. I do not know what that woman was thinking but it is no excuse whatsoever. Put on real shoes.
2. Stand there like a statue. Have courage to express your condolences, make eye contact with the close family, and show them that you care with so little as a few words and a gentle touch.
3. Laugh unnecessarily loud or God forbid, tell jokes.
4. Gossip. If you must, save it for after the service.
5. Draw attention to yourself. Change the conversation if you must, especially when you don’t want the attention.
6. Say much if you have nothing useful to say. Words, once outside the mouth, cannot be taken back.
7. Discuss your body aches and pains and malfunctions in any gory detail whatsoever. What is this anyway, some sort of sick display of sympathy? I do not want to know about your kidneys, your daughter’s problems with labor, the details of your last operation or how much your back hurts and neither does anyone else. Not here at the funeral. Not now (preferably not later either!). Keep the conversation strictly out of you and your family’s body parts and focus it instead on the dearly departed.
8. Bring up sensitive issues that are none of your business and would rather not be thought about and especially around the immediate family of the deceased. Boy did I hold my tongue for the surprisingly closed-minded and nosy woman who further upset my mother-in-law by asking her why she did not yet have any grandchildren. Her sheer ignorance aside, her manners were unforgivably rude in my view and if I shall have the displeasure of seeing her again, I will express my uncensored thoughts as to how grandchildren do not signify any sort of achievement, shocking as it may sound. So please exercise some discretion and common sense.
Grief is a deeply personal feeling. There is no right or wrong way to express it. You need to go through your own process and make your own peace with the deck of cards that God or universe or the powers beyond our comprehension have dealt you.
One of the most effective ways is to let yourself grieve and do so without rushing the process. Grief takes its time. But please do take care of yourself because it can draining. Please have at least one person that keeps an eye on you and supports you, while you still observe your privacy.
I do believe meditation and positive affirmations help you tremendously with the grieving process. I recommend these guided affirmation tracks to help you through the mental stress and resistance to healing and so much more. Heal with going inward and allowing the process of life to take its time as you learn to accept the painful truth and come to terms with the new way of living after a loss.
However, our manners and our show of respect should not take leave when we most need it and the funeral is one such place. May you never need to attend one but if you do, you won’t regret following these guidelines.