Etiquette For Funerals

~Being There With Dignity~

Etiquette for funerals is necessary when you are paying your respects to the family of someone who has passed away. Taking the time to be there for those who need you will be the most important thing you can do.

Funeral etiquette is quiet, solemn and dignified. You need to have all of these attributes to properly pay your respects. Depending on the religion, the funeral will have a wake or viewing, the funeral service and the graveside services.


When you find out that a family member, friend or acquaintance has passed away, the most important thing you can do is contact the family. Good sympathy etiquette is not about the words you say, it is about reaching out to them.

There are many ways that you can do this. A simple phone call is a beautiful way to find out how they are doing. If you are going to pay a visit to the family, it is good etiquette for funerals to take a plant or some food. They will not be concerned about cooking at this time, so anything they can put together or reheat is wonderful. etiquette for funerals

Keep your visit brief. The family needs time together to come to grips with what has happened and plan the services. Be sure to share the love you had for the deceased. Ask what you can do for the family. Sometimes helping clean or taking children is a burden lifter.

The best thing you can always do is just be there for them. There are times when the bereaved will need to talk and be heard by a sympathetic listener. You will be their shoulder to cry on and their support to hold on to.

The Wake or Viewing

The wake or viewing is the time when family of the deceased receive their friends and loved ones. It is usually held at the funeral home or church. When attending a wake, dress modestly and conservatively. It is not necessary to wear black, however dark colors are the most appropriate.

The family may have chosen to have an "open casket" viewing. This is when the upper portion of the casket is open. Others may choose a "closed casket" viewing and as the name implies, the casket is closed. This is a personal decision made by the family and there should not be any speculations as to why. When attending an "open casket" viewing good etiquette for funerals is shown when you pass by the deceased and do not stare.

It is good funeral manners to speak to the family of the deceased first when you are at a viewing. Share your condolences by offering your words of love and support. Also, it is appropriate to share good memories. After you have done this, it is acceptable to speak with others in attendance.

If it is possible leave young children at home. A wake is a place of mourning and solemness. It is difficult for young children to understand this and they may act out.

As with any solemn occasion, turn off your cell phones and leave your electronic devices at home. This applies to all parts of the funeral services and is good etiquette for funerals.

The Funeral Service

The funeral service is generally held at the funeral home or in the church of their religious affiliation. It is a quiet and solemn occasion. This is the time when the deceased is remembered and eulogized. In a lot of cases there is clergy who conducts the services.

When you attend the funeral service, it is good etiquette for funerals to leave the front seating for the family. Friends and acquaintances are seated on the sides and towards the back.

If you are attending the funeral of someone of a different religious affiliation, be respectful of their practices. You do not need to participate in all of the rites, however it is good to show reverence to what is being said and done.

As a member of the family, you may be asked to speak at the funeral. Keep your words positive and reverent.  Avoid any embarrassing stories that are disrespectful to the deceased or the family.

It is an honor to be chosen as a pall bearer. This is reserved for the closest family members or friends. Do not be worried, you will be instructed what to do and where to walk when carrying the casket.

Graveside Services

The graveside services are reserved for the close family and friends of the deceased. It is a small intimate time. There is generally limited seating and the ones that are available are reserved for the close family members.

Depending on the religious affiliation, at graveside services the clergy, or someone who has been invited, will offer a few words followed by a prayer. After it is left to the discretion of the family what they would like to do.

It is common funeral flower etiquette for the pall bearers to place their flowers on the casket. It is also a time when children or family members may place their own flowers on the casket in honor of the deceased.

In the majority of cases, those attending to the burial wait until the family has left before they lower the casket into the ground. They show their etiquette for funerals and allow the family and friends as much time as they need to say their final farewells.

After the Funeral

When the final words have been spoken, and all is said and done, the family will need time to grieve. This is a good time for you to offer your support and love in any way that they need. In the weeks following they will feel a sense of loss and wondering. By staying close to them, you will be ready to offer what they need.

Funerals are a time of grieving, mourning and support. As you work through a time of sadness such as this, having dignity will help you along this path.

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