Funeral Etiquette

The accepted customs of dress and behavior in a funeral have changed over time, but courtesy never goes out of style. Here’s what we’d like you to know about funeral etiquette.

Funeral Etiquette Tips

When attending a funeral or memorial service, it’s important to know what religious, ethnic or personal considerations to take into account. And it’s also important to be respectful of the emotions of family members and friends.

- Offer an expression of sympathy.

Sometimes we are at a loss for words when encountering something as final as death. Simply saying "I'm sorry for your loss" is usually enough. Be respectful and listen attentively when spoken to and offer your own words of condolence.

- Find out the dress code. 
While the dress code for services today is typically business dress or business casual, it's largely dependent on the wishes of the deceased and/or the deceased's family. In fact, sometimes the deceased has specified the dress code; 'no black' is a common request. If you are unable to learn these wishes, we suggest dressing conservatively and avoiding bright colors.

- Give a gift. 
Gifts are typically appreciated by the family and can include flowers, a donation to a church or charity, or a commitment of service to the family at a later date. As always, "it's the thought that counts." Always make sure to provide the family with a signed card so they will know what gift was given and by whom.

- Sign the register book. 
Include not only your name, but also your relationship to the deceased. This helps the family place who you are in future.

- Keep in touch. 

It's sometimes awkward to do so, but for most people, the grieving doesn't end with a funeral.

What Shouldn't You Do?

- Don't be afraid to laugh.

Remembering their loved one fondly can mean sharing a funny story or two. Just be mindful of the time and place; if others are sharing, then you may choose to do so too. There is no reason you shouldn't be able to talk about the deceased in a happy and positive tone.

- Don't feel that you have to view the deceased if there is an open casket. 
Act according to what is comfortable to you.

- Don't allow your children to be a disturbance. 
If you feel your children might be, you may choose to leave them with a sitter. But if the deceased were especially close to them, you might choose to invite them to share in the experience.

- Don't leave your cell phone on. 
Silence or turn off your cell phone before entering the funeral home if you choose to bring your cell phone in with you.

- Don't neglect to step into the receiving line. 
Simply say how sorry you are for their loss, offer up your name and how you knew the deceased.

- Don't be too hard on yourself if you make a mistake. 
Everyone does, and you can be sure that an apology may be all that's needed to mend the situation.

When the service is over, remember to continue to offer support and love to the bereaved. The next few months are a time when grieving friends and relatives could need you most. Let them know that your support did not end with the funeral.

We are Here to Help

Perhaps you have special concerns about an upcoming funeral or memorial service? We're here to provide answers. Contact us today.