The funeral services we offer

Funeral Etiquette

How to Express Yourself
How to Dress
The Visitation
The Prayer or Vigil Service 
The Funeral Service
Memorial Luncheon
Days After the Funeral


How to express yourself

We at Connelly-McKinley Funeral Homes thank you for the care and love that you offer the family,  we know first hand how vital your role is in the grieving and healing process.  We would like to offer some suggestions to you from our years of compassionately serving families during their greatest need.  We hope you find our experience helpful.

A majority of people in our society don't attend funeral services on weekly or even a monthly basis, which can make one feel uncomfortable or inadequate in their ability to appropriately share and express their sympathy to those who have lost a loved one. Ensure you avoid using clichés or comments that minimize the death or what the family is experiencing.   Refrain from using:  “Well, we all have to die sometime, don’t we?”  or  “It’s for the best”,   “Give it a few months, and all will be ok” - “It must be God’s will, don’t fight God”
Keep your sharing simple:
“If you need to talk, I am here for you”
“I'm so sorry”
“My deepest sympathy to you and your family”
“I am so sorry for your loss”

Sincere expressed sympathy from the heart is the best way to share your feelings.  Speak about the attributes of the deceased so that you and the family can share a memory of the deceased together.  Remember you are to express your sympathy to the family, do not share and say anything that is to embarrass the family and/or the reputation of the deceased.


How to Dress
Those attending a funeral service should be appropriately dressed in a manner that offers respect and honor for the deceased and the family. Bright-vibrant outfits are not usually an appropriate choice for a traditional style funeral service; however some families will make specific request in the obituary for those attending the service to wear a specific color or type of clothing in the honor of the deceased (example:  “In honor of Rita’s zest of life, we ask all of her friends to please wear bright colors to her Memorial.”  Others may request green for an Irish heritage, or team colors or Oiler’s of Eskimo jerseys etc., Red for member of the Red Hatters).


The Visitation
It is common for a Visitation to be held prior to the scheduled funeral service. The Visitation provides the family and friends an opportunity to say goodbye to their loved one, while gathering together for support, and sharing in the memories.
Attending the Visitation can provide a sense of closure or acceptance to those who have lost someone. A Visitation can be either open to the public or private for the family only (or by invitation).
Similar to a funeral, a visitation can be a traditional or personalized. As personalized services and memorials become more common, people are starting to use a visitation as a time to celebrate and honor the life of a loved one. Regardless if you're attending a visitation rich in tradition or an informal gathering, you are present to honor the deceased and offer support to the family.
If there's an open casket, those people who are willing will go to view the deceased.  When children will be present, discussing whether they will view the deceased or not, should be discussed before hand. Some will be confused or saddened and won't be able to understand what is taking place.  However one should not assume that children should not participate in the viewing.  Click here to read more on children and grief.


The Prayer or Vigil Service  (Catholic/Anglican)
The Prayer or Vigil is celebrated between the time of death and the funeral liturgy, often on the day before or the evening before the Funeral Mass.  The vigil may take place at one of our funeral chapels, or in the church.  A priest, deacon, or layperson may preside at this liturgy.
The vigil takes the form of the liturgy of the word.  It centers on readings from sacred Scripture, songs, psalms, and intercessory prayer.  A brief homily or reflection by the presided is also included.  The vigil service is the preferred time for family and friends to offer stories, reflections, word of remembrance (eulogies) on the life of the deceased. 

The Funeral Service
Arrive early (15 – 20 minutes before the start of the service)
The first few pews are generally reserved with reserved signs for the family members.  Our funeral directors will encourage friends to take their seats closer to the front to ensure that the family is surrounded by the support of their friends.  When entering the sanctuary of a church or one of our funeral chapels kindly turn your cell phone to silent mode or to the off position.


After the Funeral
If the graveside service follows the funeral, our staff will help guide cars into a line and add a funeral procession sticker to your car. You will also be asked to keep your high-beam and four-way hazards lights on during the processional.


Memorial Luncheon
Your attendance at the Memorial Luncheon is a sincere way to express your sympathy and show support to the family.
During the luncheon one should take time to offer sympathy to the family.  Be sensitive to the physical limitations of the family while standing for long periods in a “receiving line”.  If the line is too long and you sense the family is tired, plan to visit them in the days and weeks to come instead.


Days after the Service
When the funeral service and memorial luncheon are over, and the extended family and friends are mostly gone home, the immediate family are left to discover their former reality is no more, and to discover a new reality, one that does not include the deceased.  

What does the one say to family members during this time?
The following is an article written by Dr. Alan Wolfelt Ph.D.


Helping a Friend in Grief

by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.
A friend has experienced the death of someone loved. You want to help, but you are not sure how to go about it. This article will guide you in ways to turn your cares and concerns into positive actions.

Listen with your heart.

Helping begins with your ability to be an active listener. Your physical presence and desire to listen without judging are critical helping tools. Don't worry so much about what you will say. Just concentrate on listening to the words that are being shared with you.
Your friend may relate the same story about the death over and over again. Listen attentively each time. Realize this repetition is part of your friend's healing process. Simply listen and understand.

Be compassionate.

Give your friend permission to express his or her feelings without fear of criticism. Learn from your friend; don't instruct or set expectations about how he or she should respond. Never say, "I know just how you feel." You don't. Think about your helper role as someone who "walks with," not "behind" or "in front of" the one who is mourning.
Allow your friend to experience all the hurt, sorrow and pain that he or she is feeling at the time. Enter into your friend's feelings, but never try to take them away. And recognize that tears are a natural and appropriate expression of the pain associated with the death.

Avoid clichés.

Words, particularly clichés, can be extremely painful for a grieving friend. Clichés are trite comments often intended to diminish the loss by providing simple solutions to difficult realities. Comments like, "You are holding up so well," "Time heals all wounds," "Think of all you still have to be thankful for" or "Just be happy that he's out of his pain" are not constructive. Instead, they hurt and make a friend's journey through grief more difficult.

Understand the uniqueness of grief.

Keep in mind that your friend's grief is unique. No one will respond to the death of someone loved in exactly the same way. While it may be possible to talk about similar phases shared by grieving people, everyone is different and shaped by experiences in their own unique lives.
Because the grief experience is also unique, be patient. The process of grief takes a long time, so allow your friend to proceed at his or her own pace. Don't force your own timetable for healing. Don't criticize what you believe is inappropriate behavior. And while you should create opportunities for personal interaction, don't force the situation if your grieving friend resists.

Offer practical help.

Preparing food, washing clothes, cleaning the house or answering the telephone are just a few of the practical ways of showing you care. And, just as with your presence, this support is needed at the time of the death and in the weeks and months ahead.

Make contact.

Your presence at the funeral is important. As a ritual, the funeral provides an opportunity for you to express your love and concern at this time of need. As you pay tribute to a life that is now passed, you have a chance to support grieving friends and family. At the funeral, a touch of your hand, a look in your eye or even a hug often communicates more than any words could ever say.
Don't just attend the funeral then disappear, however. Remain available in the weeks and months to come, as well. Remember that your grieving friend may need you more later on than at the time of the funeral. A brief visit or a telephone call in the days that follow are usually appreciated.

Write a personal note.

Sympathy cards express your concern, but there is no substitute for your personal written words. What do you say? Share a favorite memory of the person who died. Relate the special qualities that you valued in him or her. These words will often be a loving gift to your grieving friend, words that will be reread and remembered for years.
Use the name of the person who has died either in your personal note or when you talk to your friend. Hearing that name can be comforting, and it confirms that you have not forgotten this important person who was so much a part of your friend's life.

Be aware of holidays and anniversaries.

Your friend may have a difficult time during special occasions like holidays and anniversaries. These events emphasize the absence of the person who has died. Respect this pain as a natural extension of the grief process. Learn from it. And, most importantly, never try to take away the hurt.
Your friend and the family of the person who died sometimes create special traditions surrounding these events. Your role? Perhaps you can help organize such a remembrance or attend one if you are invited.

Understanding the importance of the loss.

Remember that the death of someone loved is a shattering experience. As a result of this death, your friend's life is under reconstruction. Consider the significance of the loss and be gentle and compassionate in all of your helping efforts.
While the above guidelines will be helpful, it is important to recognize that helping a grieving friend will not be an easy task. You may have to give more concern, time and love that you ever knew you had. But this effort will be more than worth it. By 'walking with' your friend in grief, you are giving one of life's most precious gifts--yourself.

About the Author

Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt is a noted author, educator and practicing grief counselor. He serves as Director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition in Fort Collins, Colorado and presents dozens of grief-related workshops each year across North America. Among his books are Healing Your Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas and The Healing Your Grieving Heart Journal for Teens. For more information, write or call The Center for Loss and Life Transition, 3735 Broken Bow Road, Fort Collins, Colorado 80526, (970) 226-6050 or visit their website,

Click here for more articles by Dr. Alan Wolfelt


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