Funerals VS our Work Culture | Size: Visitations > Funeral

"Visitations are usually larger than the funeral as people are having a harder time getting out of work."
-I Paraphrase what an actual Funeral Director said to my family today when discussing a Friday Funeral

This speaks to our current culture. I do realize taking time off of work was never easy. I do realize visitations may be more accessible partially due to the nature of visitations.

I hope this post is not seen as “Liberal vs Conservative”, rather a honest declaration on Here is Our World Today.

A lot of people don’t get paid for time taken off. It is an economic concern. Those who work the kinds of jobs which are stingy with PTO, are the ones who aren’t enjoying the current economy. They often times live paycheck to paycheck.


I imagine many employers would allow a funeral absence for an employee who lost an immediate family member, best friend, or co-worker. If the deceased is not so close, like an old classmate or distant relative, then they’ll probably not be so flexible. I don’t see that as a Work Culture issue.

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We have found lately that visitations have often moved to one hour before the funeral mass, with no visitation at the funeral home. We guessed that it may be due to the high cost of a funeral along with the dwindling number of people who make the time for visitation. We try to go to the visitation, if there is one at the funeral home, especially if the rosary is being prayed.

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One of the problems is age-related. Those of us who are older and still working tend to lose more of our relatives, friends, and acquaintances to death, and therefore, have more funerals to attend.

And many of us work weekends, so having funerals on weekends doesn’t make a difference.

And many of us work at jobs where our absence for even a few hours leaves our work associates with too much work to finish in a regular workday. In other words, all of us are needed to handle the workload, and funerals are not something that the Supervisor can plan for when she is making out the work schedule and assignments. It truly does create a hardship for our co-workers.

At least once a week, someone I know dies. I could go to a visitation/funeral once a week!

Also, a visitation often takes a LOT of time! We recently had a friend die, and when I went to the visitation (which was scheduled for 4 hours!), the line was out the door and snaking around the building, and there was a line of cars down the street for several blocks waiting to get into the funeral home parking lot! I knew that everyone in the line would spend at least a few minutes with the bereaved family, not just say, “I’m so sorry” and move on.

I ended up turning around and going home because I simply could not spare 4 hours, and I can’t stand for that long, especially outdoors in November in Northern Illinois!

I couldn’t attend the funeral because it was held during a workday.

So I sent a card to the family member we know best.



Probably very industry dependent. I work in the defense industry with government civilians and contractors (and military folks). They all leave whenever they want to; your schedule is your own. In addition, most contractors have bereavement leave policies, paid time-off policies, and many also allow for unpaid time-off, if the person needs to take off but has no leave.

I personally allow folks to go negative on their leave balance, especially when they get hired late in the year. Thanksgiving and Christmas are tough times to start a job since seldom do you have leave accrued. Within reason, I let folks accrue a negative leave balance. You run the risk that they resign with a negative leave balance and you have to eat that money, but that has never happened, and I don’t want to be Scrooge, especially during Advent.


If the person was younger or had a lot of community ties, then there will be a lot of people who come by the visitation to pay respects for a short time, but won’t go to the actual funeral for a variety of reasons, which may include work, family commitments, not being that close to the deceased, not being the same religion as the deceased, etc.

Over the last 40 years, I’ve gone to quite a few visitations, but I only attend funerals of my immediate family or a very close friend. I’ve noticed the same behavior from others. It wasn’t because I couldn’t get out of work, but rather because there was sort of an unspoken understanding that unless you were the person’s family member or close friend, there was no expectation of you appearing at the funeral, and in some cases the funeral was actually private and they only wanted family there.


Bless you. You are most compassionate. Wish all bosses were that way.


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