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Swedish funerals: what is the ettiquette?

007
post 20.Jun.2006, 12:22 PM
Post #1
Location: Stockholm
Joined: 2.Apr.2006

speaking of death and the dead is often taboo. it's also a relatively personal and private event for the friends, family and others linked to the dearly departed. as a result the information around what to do or not to do is hard to discover i've come to find over the years.

i've learned the hard way, trial and error and tenuous questions.

it struck me as several of us non-swedes discussed this over the weekend.

questions raised included:
who should attend or not? and what in fact are you attending?
what's the dress code?
what is expected of you? (and what and how is that assigned?)
what's the general procedure?

it goes on. i've had a few experiences, but i'm wondering what other people have experienced or what questions people might have.

i would have paid money for the "someone died --what do i need to know" pamphlet when i first had to attend a funeral and then again when the sibling of my friend's spouse committed suicide.
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*Streja*
post 20.Jun.2006, 12:25 PM
Post #2


The dress code is usually stipulated in the obituary in the paper, or the family of the deceased will tell you.

People in Sweden normally get up from their seats in church at the end and go to the coffin and say goodbye with flowers you lay on it or around it. The closest to the deceased go first and then after relatives and friends and co-workers.
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007
post 20.Jun.2006, 12:31 PM
Post #3
Location: Stockholm
Joined: 2.Apr.2006

QUOTE (Streja)
The dress code is usually stipulated in the obituary in the paper, or the family of the deceased will tell you.


not the white tie black tie deal
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*Cheeseroller*
post 20.Jun.2006, 12:32 PM
Post #4


QUOTE (Streja)
People in Sweden normally get up from their seats in church at the end and go to the coffin and say goodbye with flowers you lay on it or around it. The closest to the deceased go first and then after relatives and friends and co-workers.


Yes, this was the part I found different from services in the UK.
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Rachel F
post 20.Jun.2006, 12:43 PM
Post #5
Joined: 12.Oct.2005

This is a very interesting topic 007 - thanks Streja for your comments. These occasions really do mark the rest of us as outsiders as every culture has its own way of dealing with the issues surrounding death.

What is the dress code here? Does everyone wear black? Are women expected to wear hats and/ or veils? How would you express your condolenses? Would the bereaved feel embarrased to receive a phone call or a card from someone they knew slightly? Is it appropriate for anyone to pay their respects? Is the 'do' afterwards a very subdued event or is it an emotional event where people cry, drink beer, tell a few stories, end up having a laugh? Do children attend funerals here?

For those of us who may be attending a funeral for the first time, any advice would be appreciated.
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Puffin
post 20.Jun.2006, 12:51 PM
Post #6
Location: Dalarna
Joined: 5.Apr.2006

The dress code is usually stated in the newspaper announcement:

valfri klädsel - wear what you like
ljusklädsel - light/bright colours - often for funeral of children
mörkklädsel - dark clothing

If in doubt - I would go for darkish but not too formal - navyblue/brown etc - none of the funerals that I have been to have been as formal as ones in the UK.

Differences that I have noticed:
1. getting up to say your goodbyes in the church - many people also had a single flower that they placed on the coffin
2. At one funeral we left the coffin in the church when the service was over which seemed very strange
3. Having to ring the Undertakers to say that you are coming - to get right numbers for tea I assume
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*Streja*
post 20.Jun.2006, 01:17 PM
Post #7


QUOTE (Petronella_ponsonby)
This is a very interesting topic 007 - thanks Streja for your comments. These occasions really do mark the rest of us as outsiders as every culture has its own way of dealing with the issues surrounding death.

What is the dress code here? Does everyone wear black? Are women expected to wear hats and/ or veils? How would you express your condolenses? Would the bereaved feel embarrased to receive a phone call or a card from someone they knew slightly? Is it appropriate for anyone to pay their respects? Is the 'do' afterwards a very subdued event or is it an emotional event where people cry, drink beer, tell a few stories, end up having a laugh? Do children attend funerals here?

For those of us who may be attending a funeral for the first time, any advice would be appreciated.


Women are not expected to wear hats. You offer condolences usually by buying flowers that are placed next to the coffin in church. You can also do that after the service when usually people walk up to the next of kin to offer some kind words and somtimes hugs. There are times when only the closest family go to the cemetary and therefore it is not uncommon that you leave church and then go to the family's home for coffee, that is if you are a near relative or close to someone in the family. We had coffee and cake at the fika after my uncle's funeral last year. We talked about him and what he was like and we could even laugh and be sad at the same time. He died of cancer so it was not an immedaite shock like if there is an accident I don't know how people will feel at a funeral like that.
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007
post 20.Jun.2006, 01:44 PM
Post #8
Location: Stockholm
Joined: 2.Apr.2006

QUOTE (Petronella_ponsonby)
This is a very interesting topic 007 - thanks Streja for your comments. These occasions really do mark the rest of us as outsiders as every culture has its own way of dealing with the issues surrounding death.

What is the dress code here? Does everyone wear black? Are women expected to wear hats and/ or veils? How would you express your condolenses? Would the bereaved feel embarrased to receive a phone call or a card from someone they knew slightly? Is it appropriate for anyone to pay their respects? Is the 'do' afterwards a very subdued event or is it an emotional event where people cry, drink beer, tell a few stories, end up having a laugh? Do children attend funerals here?

For those of us who may be attending a funeral for the first time, any advice would be appreciated.


someone chime in if you disagree or need to clarify.

i find that despite the dress code announcement, you pretty much see the same basic dress. dark is usual, but white and light isn't uncommon even for non child funerals.

no hats expected nor ever seen.
cards and flowers are welcome, even to the home of the family. calls are also appreciated. nothing is expected.
funerals are smaller than i'm used to. you go because you want to, not because you're expected to. in fact, because there is often coffee, food and some socializing after the service, some people go for fun it seems. some funeral wording is then "i närmaste kretsen" meaning...if you have a connection...if you feel strongly about attending, call the family and ask if it's ok to attend. or attend the service but don't go to the coffee service afterwards.

the social gathering is usually rather upbeat (unless it's a tragic death)..people tell stories about the deceased, laugh, smile, wipe a tear when it's a nice memory. there are often speaches.

children are always welcome and most often very tolerated. you would never bring a child that isn't related in some way.

i still find the flower laying both beautiful and difficult to do. if you really are emotional it's hard to have a personal moment with everyone watching. if you are there out of respect, it feels wrong to pretend to be sad.

re: the ties...
white ties for men (not bow ties, regular ties) for close relations/contact with the deceased
black tie for men (also just regular tie) for links to the deceased but not immediate ties.

the rest of the men can wear whatever tie they feel is appropriate.

also important to note.
a funeral can be upwards of 3-6 weeks after the person has died.
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*Kodos*
post 20.Jun.2006, 02:22 PM
Post #9


QUOTE (Streja)
People in Sweden normally get up from their seats in church at the end and go to the coffin and say goodbye with flowers you lay on it or around it. The closest to the deceased go first and then after relatives and friends and co-workers.


That is a lovely sentiment. Truly lovely.
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Puffin
post 20.Jun.2006, 02:29 PM
Post #10
Location: Dalarna
Joined: 5.Apr.2006

The flower laying is a very moving part of the service. I remember this from the funeral of my SFI teacher who died at the age of 46 sad.gif
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*Kodos*
post 20.Jun.2006, 02:30 PM
Post #11


I'm thinking of sharing this with Dock's family, actually. :?
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Luckyluke
post 20.Jun.2006, 02:42 PM
Post #12
Joined: 16.Feb.2006

Thanks for a very good a useful topic!
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007
post 20.Jun.2006, 11:03 PM
Post #13
Location: Stockholm
Joined: 2.Apr.2006

QUOTE (Kodos)
I'm thinking of sharing this with Dock's family, actually. :?


lay a lily for me.
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*Kodos*
post 21.Jun.2006, 03:58 AM
Post #14


QUOTE (007)
lay a lily for me.


I shall. 007 is never far away from our hearts.
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Roowhip
post 21.Jun.2006, 07:28 AM
Post #15
Joined: 16.Sep.2005

QUOTE
The dress code is usually stipulated in the obituary in the paper, or the family of the deceased will tell you.


I have only been to one funeral in Sweden; last year after the death of my neighbours 3 year old son and they stipulated in the obituary that everyone wear light colours.
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