Etiquette for Veteran Funeral Services
From what to wear to what to say, check out our quick guide for military services
Attending a veteran's funeral involves showing the same respect that we must show at the funeral service of a civilian. We must address the family respectfully and always understand that we are saying goodbye to a loved one. However, during a military funeral service, there is usually a protocol that adds some steps that we must consider. Read on to learn about them.
What to expect at a military funeral
The protocol of a military funeral service includes the traditional honors of a guard and the presentation of our beloved flag. Whether it is a burial or a cremation, there may be a headstone, a memorial medallion, or a military honors certificate provided by the government to honor the veteran we are saying goodbye to.
In either case, the presentation of the flag is fundamental, and we must honor it. It is necessary to remain silent and respectful while the flag is presented and folded.
The military present raises arms, and the person in charge of the ceremony may be a military, civilian, or religious representative. A few words of honor are dedicated, and prayers, too, if desired. If there is one, the casket is lifted to the funeral carriage or the grave.
All of these details are planned by the family and the funeral director.
What should we wear at a funeral?
Depending on the wishes of the family and the deceased, the dress code may range from absolute black, as in traditional services. It can also be white, as in a celebration of life. A specific color decision can be allowed, too, as long as the family permits it. However, to be safe, the color to choose is black.
We usually suggest our visitors pay respects through clothing. Presenting ourselves neatly and in clean clothes is a symbol of care as well. It does not have to be anything fancy but appropriate for the occasion: no ripped or dirty clothes, bright colors or flashy patterns, and distracting accessories. It is a moment for the family and the person we are saying goodbye to. We can reserve specific details and colors for other occasions.
Should we bring gifts to the family?
Some of the most meaningful details we have seen during our veteran's funeral services are sympathy cards with beautiful messages. Also, floral arrangements in the colors of our flag and memorial-related gifts, such as lovely photos of the deceased in beautiful frames decorated with American symbols. A book is also a good idea. It does not have to be necessarily about grief and loss. It could be a light-themed book that they would like.
The gift does not have to be expensive. You can do it if you have the financial means to give a gift. If not, simply paying honor and respect is more than appropriate.
What to say at the funeral?
Traditionally, the one leading the military/religious ceremony will say a few words appreciating the service the deceased person gave to our nation and the immense value of that. Regardless, if the family allows it, a more personal speech can be given. If you intend to say a few words, please check with the family first to see if you can do so. You may ask our funeral directors if you need advice in giving a speech. They have a lot of experience and will be happy to help.
If you prefer to be discreet, you may respectfully approach the family and offer your condolences, showing appreciation for the military services done by the deceased.
Should we bring our kids to a service?
Unless the family asks for it, bringing children to a funeral service is not recommended because they may be overwhelmed by the situation. It is a challenging time that must be handled with care; a lifeless body is present in many cases, or an urn with human remains. Also, everyone in the room may be upset, crying, or in a sensitive mood.
Explaining these things to children and teenagers can be complex. If you cannot attend the service without them, explaining concepts such as death and burial to the little ones will be necessary. You also may need to mention that at all times, it is essential to remain silent and show respect to the deceased military member and the family.
Attending to show respect and love
These are just some of the most vital details when attending a military funeral service. Each case is different, and although there is a general protocol, each funeral may have other wishes. This is totally valid. If you prefer to show respect and honor in another way, ask our funeral directors. They will be able to guide you and give you the best advice. Click below to talk to us.