Funeral Etiquette

Even though it’s the 21 century, courtesy hasn’t gone out of style. This is especially true when attending a funeral or memorial service. First of all, it’s important to know what religious, ethnic or personal considerations you need to take into account. And it’s also important to be respectful of the emotions of close family members. Beyond those two things, here’s what we’d like to share with you.

making the most of a difficult time

It’s important to know what religious, ethnic or personal considerations you need to take into account. And it’s also important to be respectful of the emotions of close family members.

Here are a few things expected of you:
  • Choose to take the time to 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.
  • Be considerate about the dress code.
    These days almost anything goes, but only when you know it's the right anything. In fact, sometimes the deceased has specified the dress code; “no black” is a common request. If you can't learn the wishes of the family, then dress conservatively, and avoid bright colors.
  • A gift is always welcome, but not necessary.
    If you can afford to, and your heart calls you to do so, a gift of flowers, a donation to a charity or a commitment of service to the family at a later date is always a nice gesture. But, it’s even simpler: a card expressing your sympathy is a small gesture, but can mean so much in the weeks after the funeral.
  • If there’s a guestbook, be sure to sign it.
    Include not only your name, but your relationship to the deceased: co-worker, gym buddy, or casual acquaintance from the golf club. This helps family place who you are in future.
  • Stay in touch.
    It's sometimes feels awkward for you to do so, but for most people the grieving doesn't end with a funeral.

But, What Shouldn't You Do?

  • Don't feel that you have to stay.
    If you make a visit during calling hours there's no reason your stay has to be a lengthy one.
  • Don't be afraid to laugh.
    Just be mindful of the time and place.
  • Don't feel 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 they might be, then leave them with a sitter.
  • Don't leave your cell phone on.
    Switch it off before entering the funeral home, or better yet, leave it in the car.
  • Don't neglect to step into the receiving line.
    Simply say how sorry you are for their loss, offer up your own 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 and soothe.

When it's all over, always 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’re Always Here to Help

Perhaps you've got special concerns about a funeral or memorial service? We're here to provide the answers you need. Just ask.