Sunday, April 10, 2016

Etiquette, Mourning and Friends

The family friend buys or orders gowns if necessary, sees the dressmaker and arranges fittings. She sends home hats and bonnets to be tried on for approval, and the selection of gloves, veils and even wraps, falls to her lot. 


Loss, Mourning Etiquette and the Valued Family Friend

Strictly defined is the etiquette governing funerals, and only by observing it can one avoid giving offense. For instance, it is customary, as soon as a death occurs, for the immediate relatives and associates to be notified either by telephone, post or telegram. As immediate relatives are too sorrow stricken to attend to such matters, an intimate friend or relative is usually asked to carry out such details, and from that time until the family returns from the cemetery is in charge. 


In point of fact, such an office is certainly one of friendship, for not an instant passes but that something is required. All persons who may feel privileged to call to offer sympathy must be met by this efficient individual. She must look after shopping, which, strangely enough to those who have not had death in the family, must be done at once. She buys or orders gowns if necessary, sees the dressmaker and arranges fittings. She sends home hats and bonnets to be tried on for approval, and the selection of gloves, veils and even wraps, falls to her lot. Nor is this all. 

If she is wise, she watches the effect of grief upon members of the family, and if necessary calls in a physician before they arrive at the point of breaking down. The writing of notes is part of her duties, and she must be able to tell details concisely, but not brusquely, to persons whom she never saw. Besides all this there is a constant demand upon her sympathies, and she, too, must bear in mind that it is only by not overdoing that she will be helpful; that it will not be of the slightest use for her to wear herself out and to last through the trying time she must eat, sleep and not become exhausted. 

On the day of the funeral, the duties of this friend of the family are incessant. As a rule, she has neither time nor strength to arrange the flowers herself and has provided for them by asking other friends to see that they are correctly placed. If the services are held in the home, she has a room made ready for the clergyman in which he may put on his vestments, and either she, or someone else who is helping, must be near the front door to be certain that close relatives are put together in the same room. Whether or not they are with the immediate family depends upon the wish of the latter, but in any event they should be given precedence before friends. 

If the funeral is held in the country, so persons are at the house at lunch time or have taken a long journey for the ceremony, it is customary to provide some refreshment after the services. Coffee and sandwiches will be enough, and they should be on the dining room table and ready to serve. That this is done properly, is another duty for the officiating friend to look after. This person, or another, stays at the house after the family has left for the cemetery and puts everything in order. There is always disarrangement of furniture, and it is a tactful and considerate thought to have all in order when the mourners return. —Los Angeles Herald, 1909


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is that Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia