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Funeral Etiquette

Where Legacy Lives On.

When attending a visitation or funeral, you might find yourself uncertain of what you should wear, what to say, or what to do. We’ve put together a short guide to the basics of funeral home etiquette to help you pay your respects with courtesy and consideration.



Funeral Etiquette Tip #1

Try to find out the dress code before you attend a service. While all black attire used to be the standard, some families specifically request no black at today’s more upbeat memorial services and life celebrations. When in doubt, dress conservatively and avoid overly bright colors or busy patterns. That means a suit and simple tie for men and a modest dress or skirt or pants and a blouse for women.


Funeral Etiquette Tip #2

When you arrive at a service or visitation, approach the family at your first opportunity and express your sympathy. Don’t feel like you have to avoid talking about their loved one. In fact, sharing stories and memories about the deceased can help survivors through the grieving process.


Funeral Etiquette Tip #3

Choose your words wisely when talking to surviving family members. Steer clear of unhelpful comments like, “He’s in a better place now,” or “It was all part of God’s plan.” Instead, stick with phrases like, “You’re in my thoughts,” or “I’m so sorry for your loss.” It can also be comforting to share fond memories or funny stories about the deceased.


Funeral Etiquette Tip #4

Once you’ve offered your condolences to the family at a visitation, it’s perfectly appropriate to engage in quiet conversation with friends and other family members. Don’t feel like you have to stick around for the entire event. Even a short visit means a lot to the family.


Funeral Etiquette Tip #5

Don’t forget to sign the register book so the family knows you attended the service. It may also be helpful to add how you knew the deceased, whether it was through work, school, social activities, etc.


Funeral Etiquette Tip #6

If you want to let the family know they are in your thoughts, send flowers, offer a memorial gift or make a donation to the family’s chosen charity in the deceased’s name. Even the smallest gesture, such as a sympathy card, can offer the family great comfort.


Funeral Etiquette Tip #7

Turn off your cell phone before you enter the funeral home or church. No one wants to hear your trendy hip hop ringtone in the middle of a funeral service.


Funeral Etiquette Tip #8

Funeral traditions and customs vary greatly among different religions, cultures, and communities. If you’re not sure about the family’s customs, be sure to ask the funeral home beforehand about any special considerations you should keep in mind.


Funeral Etiquette Tip #9

During an open casket service, it’s customary to show your respect by approaching the casket, viewing the deceased, and spending a few moments in silent prayer or meditation. However, this is not mandatory, especially if viewing the deceased makes you uncomfortable.


Funeral Etiquette Tip #10

During a memorial service or funeral, the first two rows are generally reserved for the immediate family members of the deceased. Friends and other guests should sit in the third row and beyond.


Funeral Etiquette Tip #11

If you knew the person who died but do not know the family, feel free to attend the funeral or visitation if it’s open to everyone. When you arrive, introduce yourself to the family and explain how you knew their loved one.


Funeral Etiquette Tip #12

If you were friends with the person who died and the viewing is limited to family only, respect the family’s wishes and do not attend. You can attend the funeral or memorial service instead. If you are not invited to any of the funeral events, you may express your condolences by sending the family a sympathy card or flowers.