When people come together for a funeral, it can feel almost like a family reunion. Unlike a reunion, wedding or other event, however, different rules of etiquette apply to funeral service. This is especially true when it comes to taking photos. Most people have a camera in the palm of their hand at all times in the form of a smart phone, but incessantly snapping photos at a funeral can be inappropriate, disruptive or even hurtful. Here are a few guidelines to follow when it comes to taking photos at a funeral.
As a General Rule: No Photos Inside
Unless you have been specifically asked by the family of the deceased to do so, it is not appropriate to take pictures inside a funeral service or at a grave site. People in attendance at the funeral may be in mourning, or even crying, and taking photos is an invasion of privacy.
This is especially true when it comes to taking photos of the deceased. Do not ever, unless specifically asked, take pictures of an open casket, or even with the casket in the background. Whether you intend to be flippant or not, it is disrespectful to the deceased and those mourning them.
When It May Be Appropriate
While it is disrespectful to take photos at a funeral itself, many people still want to document the day and the gathering of loved ones. It is more appropriate to take pictures outside the venue, or even at an entirely different location, either before or after the service. Consider asking the close family of the deceased if they are comfortable with you doing so.
When taking photos, keep the tone somber and respectful, and try not to be disruptive to those around you. Keep it short and sweet, and avoid taking selfies. You should be taking pictures with the intention of preserving family memories, not to make yourself look good.
Sharing Photos Online
For many people, sharing photos online hardly warrants a second thought. When sharing photos at a funeral, however, you need to consider the feelings and wishes of the grieving family. Even if you asked permission to take the photos themselves, you need to ask permission again before sharing them.
Do not share the photos immediately after the service, or worse, during the service itself. Try to wait at least a day before posting anything about the service online. Your focus during that day should be on the deceased and the grieving loved ones, not sharing photos. When you do post them, choose one or two instead of creating an entire album about the funeral. Click here for more information about using social media appropriately after a death.
If you feel uncomfortable with the idea of sharing photos from a funeral service online, there are many other options for sharing and preserving memories. Share the photos you took with loved ones via text message or email, or print them for a personal photo album. The grieving family will appreciate your thoughtfulness and sensitivity during this difficult time.
The Bottom Line: Be Considerate
When it comes to funeral etiquette, it’s a good idea to avoid being glued to your phone altogether. Cell phones, while great for bringing people together, can be a distraction during what should be a sacred time of mourning. You want the grieving family and friends to know that you are there to support them and honor the deceased, not to make the day about yourself.
When deciding whether to take photos at a funeral, consider the service you are attending and those who will be in attendance. It may be perfectly appropriate to take a group picture at one funeral service, and completely inappropriate at another. Funeral etiquette is less about a specific set of rules and more about being considerate of others with your words and actions.
Bevis Funeral Home is here to help you through difficult times. Our grief support resources are always available any time you need them.