Most people understand that cremation services are generally serious events that may include light moments as people share warm memories and beautiful traits about the deceased. When it comes to the after-service reception, there are fewer expectations and more chances for inadvertent faux pas. Here's your etiquette guide for the reception.
Do Offer to Bring Something
Whether or not you sent a gift along with your condolences to the cremation service itself, it's polite to offer to being something to the after-cremation service reception. Depending on the type of reception that is being held, you may offer to bring food, wine, other beverages, or something else practical like plastic silverware. If the family seems unsure about what to ask you to bring, offer up something that you think will be helpful.
Don't Suggest Changes
If the family has decided to have the after-service reception at a distant relative's home, resist the urge to suggest that they should instead have it a country club where the deceased person liked to play golf. Assume that the family has explored all their options and their choices were made to best fit the needs of all involved. Hearing how things should have been done in a better way can only increase the stress levels that the bereaved are already facing.
Do Share Positive Memories
While the reception is not the place to engage in stand-up comedy routines that roast the person who has passed away, there is a decidedly more casual tone to the reception than there is at a cremation service. Feel free to stand up and share positive memories of the deceased. Talk about their good qualities and especially focus on the kind, loving things they said about the bereaved.
Don't Bring Your Own Drama to the Party
A lot of people come to the reception with the idea that they should have been entitled to a certain level of treatment or maybe even more access to the family than they had at the cremation service. It's fine to feel that way, but never mention that at a cremation service or the after-event reception. It would add a lot of hurt to their already outrageous pain to hear gossip at the cremation service and realize others were criticizing and judging how they were dealing with things.
Finally, every bereaved family will have their own unique needs and preferences for the after-service reception. If you're in doubt about whether you are doing the right things for them, feel free to politely ask. Establishing open communication can be a powerful way to help the family and friends of the deceased.