Funeral Etiquette

Funeral Etiqutte:
Proper etiquette when attending funerals

What you need to know

While attending a funeral service, guests are expected to act a certain way to ensure everyone can properly pay their respects. When people are courteous to one another, then everyone can grieve in peace.

Below we’ve compiled some funeral etiquette tips to keep in mind.

Religious & Ethnic Customs

Traditions and customs differ among various communities, ethnic groups, and religions, and it's often helpful to ask beforehand about any special considerations. We can answer many of your questions and can point you toward resources that offer more information.

What to Say at a Funeral

Express your sympathy in your own words, however it feels right to you. Kind words about the loved one who has passed are always appropriate, and a simple "I'm sorry for your loss" or "My thoughts and prayers are with you" can be meaningful and comforting for the bereaved.

What to do at a Funeral

While at a funeral, be attentive of what's expected of you. If the family gives any instructions, quietly follow them. The day is about them and the deceased, so guests should make things run as smoothly as possible. It is completely understandable if you cry. Funerals are for paying your respects to the deceased after all. If you feel uncomfortable at any point, it is okay to quietly dismiss yourself from the service so long as you don't draw attention to yourself. Be sure to avoid any possible distractions.This includes turning your phone off or on silent and leaving it in your pocket or purse during the entire service. Likewise, if you have a persistent cough, bring cough drops to help. If you have young children along, make sure to set expectations ahead of time. Let them know they are expected to be quiet and polite during the funeral. If your child becomes fussy or loud, it is best to take them outside until they calm down.

What to Wear at a Funeral

Try to find out the dress code before you attend, so that you can be sure you’ll dress appropriately. If you aren't sure, simply try to dress in a conservative way that shows respect for the family and other mourners. For men, a suit and a conservative tie is usually a safe bet. Women should generally wear a conservative dress, skirt, or pants with a tasteful blouse.

Paying Respect

At a service with an open casket, it's customary to show your respect by viewing the deceased and, if you wish, spending a few moments in silent prayer. The family may escort you to the casket, or you might approach on your own. Viewing the deceased is not mandatory, however, and you should do what is comfortable to you.

Signing the Register

Be sure to add yourself to the register book, using your full name so that the family can identify you in the future. It's also helpful to add information about how you knew the deceased — through work, social clubs, school, etc.

Flowers & Gifts

Sending flowers, making a donation, or giving a memorial gift are all meaningful gestures to let the bereaved know that they are in your thoughts.

Turn Off Your Phone

If you choose to bring your phone into the funeral home, take a moment to make sure you've turned it off, or, at the very least, on silent or vibrate.

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