Funeral processions are a standard part of many funerals, and many of us have likely been part of one or have witnessed one. Nonetheless, some may not be aware of the rules and expectations involved in them. Therefore, we have compiled an etiquette guide for those participating in and witnessing a funeral procession.
A funeral procession is usually a motorcade of cars - or in some cases, mourners on foot - that escort a hearse containing human remains to a final resting place after funeral services (e.g., visitation) have ended. It usually starts at a funeral event, such as a funeral home or church, and ends at the crematorium or cemetery.
Funeral processions have been conducted for hundreds of years. In the tradition's origins, family members typically carry the deceased to their final resting place. Other loved ones would follow along by foot. However, this has shifted mainly to vehicle processions in the present. Most modern processions consist of a lead car or hearse carrying the deceased's body, with loved ones following behind in their vehicles.
The main purpose of a funeral procession is to provide one last way to honour and pay tribute to the deceased. However, it also offers an opportunity for community support as onlookers are also encouraged to pay their respects as the procession line passes.
If you participate in a funeral procession, one of the first etiquette rules is to show up at the starting location on time. It is recommended that you arrive up to 45 minutes before the funeral procession. This allows for funeral attendants to prepare the lineup.
The procession lineup will usually begin with a lead car or a hearse, followed by a limousine or personal vehicles driving the immediate family. The lead car is often black with flags to denote the beginning of the procession. The remaining family and friends will follow next, usually, in the order they arrive.
Once you arrive at the starting location, attendants will show you where to park, and they will mark your car with a sign or a flag to show that you will be part of the procession. The flag is usually placed on the driver's side of the vehicle. It is likely that attendees will also be advised to have their four-way flashers or hazard lights during the procession. The flags and the lights help alert other drivers that you are part of the procession.
The procession will begin once the funeral service is done. At that point, pallbearers will typically transport the casket into the hearse, and attendees should immediately go to their cars and be prepared to follow the procession line.
When in the procession line, here are some things to keep in mind:
Once you have arrived at the cemetery or crematorium, you will continue to follow the procession, or an attendant will guide you to where you need to go (e.g., gravesite or parking lot). Once the cars are parked, flags and markers will be removed from the vehicles.
Eirene’s team is available 24/7 to provide guidance and answer your questions.
When you encounter a funeral procession, one of the most important things is to be respectful and courteous to the grieving families. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Ask our team at Eirene about funeral protocol and etiquette. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to access our phone info. You can also make cremation or aquamation arrangements with our company.
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