One of the more interesting things I’ve come across when dealing with inter-provincial funeral services is the different reactions to a motorized funeral procession. In Eastern provinces, funeral processions evoke great respect. Drivers will allow a procession right of way, pedestrians may pause and remove their hats – it’s a communal show of support. Here in the West, however, a funeral procession is often met with indifference or even irritation.
When a funeral takes place, it is common practice for mourners to accompany the hearse carrying their departed loved one to their final resting place. The funeral procession is the last time the physical body of an individual will be among the living. Once the procession reaches its final destination, the body will be buried or cremated according to custom.
We all know how irritating it can be to wait in traffic because someone doesn’t know the fundamentals of merging, a left turn was made on a red light, or someone attempted to occupy the same space and time as another vehicle. A funeral procession is none of those things. A procession to the cemetery is a solemn rite. It’s a pretty big deal.
The BC Motor Vehicles Act allows for purple flashing lights in registered funeral home vehicles during a procession. So, when you see a flashing purple light and vehicles following with their hazard lights engaged, that indicates an approaching procession.
A funeral procession must obey all traffic signs and laws. While pulling to the side of the road is not a requirement of other drivers, it is greatly appreciated and is a sign of respect to the family. (It also allows a space for members of the procession to catch up.) Braking to allow a procession to turn onto a roadway unimpeded is also an appreciated courtesy as it reduces the hazards for all drivers. Etiquette typically involves NOT merging into a funeral procession.
So, remember … P is for Purple Procession. Remember a death has occurred, and Please, be Polite.
Sandy Poelvoorde is the owner of Boyd’s Funeral Services Ltd. (“Quality care you can trust.”) She can be reached at 250.287.2240 or online at www.campbellriverfunerals.com.