Funerals: the Mumsnet guide to avoiding a descent into absurdity

They say the line between comedy and tragedy is very slim - sometimes vanishingly so, as this thread about inappropriate happenings at funerals ably demonstrates. Here, as a result, are Mumsnetter's hard-and-fast rules for ensuring that the funeral you're attending doesn't turn into a French farce*. 

* Unless, of course, you think everyone needs cheering up - in which case just flip each of these rules on its head.


1. Leave your children at home

Many parents feel that allowing children to attend family funerals is an important part of the grieving process, and there's plenty of evidence to suggest that they're right. But be aware that the gravity of the occasion may be somewhat lost upon younger family members...


"My son, aged three, stood up at my grandma's funeral and shouted, "Mummy, which nana are we burying?"


"When my nan died, my son was eight. They were very close and shared the same birthday. He insisted he wanted to go to the funeral and came in the limousine with us. He was so excited when it pulled up he announced to everyone “this is the best day of my life!”. I spent all day crying one minute, laughing the next."


"At my nana's funeral my son, aged three, who had a pirate obsession, kept pointing at the coffin and shouting, “What's in the treasure chest? Open it!”. Even my grandad who was devastated by the loss of his wife was on the edge of losing his composure. The priest actually turned his back and walked away for a few mins. I'm sure it was to avoid us seeing him giggle!"


"My daughter had just turned one when my grandmother died. Just as they lowered the coffin and said, 'We lay Beryl to rest,' my daughter piped up, 'Hip hip hooray!'"


"At my dad's funeral, my son, then 18 months, stood on my lap, looked over at the coffin, and in a very clear voice (his clearest yet) shouted 'dead.'"

2. Think twice about witty one-liners 

"At my grandfather's funeral my dad, who hadn't been liked by my mother-in-law, said a little too loudly, as the coffin was lowered into their shared grave, 'It's first time he's been on top of your Nan since she was expecting your mother.'"

"After my 100-year-old great-father-in-law's funeral, his similarly ancient friend tottered over to offer condolences at the crematorium and added with a sigh, 'I'm not sure it's worth me going home...'"


"In the car on the way back from my gran's funeral, my great aunt (gran's sister-in-law, who belonged in an Alan Bennett play) leaned over to mum and said in a consoling tone, 'Well at least she didn't die of anything serious.'"


"At my gran's funeral we came out of the crematorium to see a row of wheelie bins which had painted across them in huge white letters - 'NO HOT ASHES'."


3. Give careful consideration to your choice of music

"We had to decide (without a great deal of getting to know said deceased) what would be the most appropriate music. We were doing really well - we found Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye the out-tro. Unfortunately, the CD we used was one of those odd old ones where there are other songs on a single track. The other track was Who Do You Think You Are Kidding, Mr Hitler?"


"My Grandma had Magic Moments played at her funeral. The priest said it was definitely a first."


"The organist at my Dad's funeral started off the last hymn at the wrong speed. The choir tried to speed up but the congregation stayed at the organist's speed. He then lost his place but kept going regardless and we had a wonderful cacophony until the last note. My husband and I couldn't stop laughing - Dad would have thought it hilarious!"


"My uncle was a massive Elvis fan. As the curtains closed around the coffin at the crematorium, Return To Sender started playing..."

4. Keep tight control of all electrical devices 

"I was at a funeral with my dad once, stood quietly at the back as the crematorium was packed. Just as the curtains started closing my dad got a text. His text tone was a little voice saying, 'Help, help, I can't get out'."


"At a friend's funeral, someone had brought his satnav in. Just as the deceased’s son got up to do the eulogy, a disembodied voice announced "you have reached your destination". The poor boy choked out 'Dad would have loved that'."


6. Don't throw things at anyone else ... 

"We all had to throw a flower on to the coffin, my mother completely missed the grave and hit another relative on the other side. My Dad had to lead me and my sister away in hysterics, saying it was grief."


7. ... and - in case there were any uncertainty on the matter - no streaking

"At my husband's uncle's funeral, my daughter (then a baby) started wailing, so I slipped out discreetly. My older daughter followed me. I found a bench and began breastfeeding when my older daughter suddenly decided to leg it. She'd seen a bright, colourful bit of the cemetery, with windmills, teddies etc. Realising, horrified, that she was heading full-tilt for the cemetery's area for babies and young children, I ran after her.

"The entire funeral party was treated to me practically rugby-tackling my daughter, right outside the crematorium's huge full length windows, baby clamped under right arm, left boob out. The general consensus at the funeral tea was that dear old Uncle Fred would have loved having a streaker at his funeral, but still."


Last updated: about 3 years ago