Funeral Etiquette

Like everything in society, funeral etiquette and what is expected of you has evolved over time.  As always common sense and good discretion is the best guide to proper funeral etiquette.   

  • During this Pandemic: help prevent the spread of respiatory diseases like COVID-19. Stay at least 6 feet from other people. When in public, wear a cloth face covering over your nose and mouth. Do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth.  Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.  Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in trash and wash your hands. Most importantly, stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Express your condolences – It’s not easy to come up with the words to offer sympathy to someone who has just lost a loved one. Simply saying something like “I am sorry for your loss, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family” is enough.  If you can’t be at a funeral service in person, sending a card or leaving a message on a memorial website is a perfect way to express your sympathy.
  • Dress appropriately – Gone are the days of dressing up in all black for a funeral.  You should still dress tastefully and avoid any bright or flashy colors. 
  • Sign the register book – The family will keep the register book as a memento for years.  Be sure to include your full name, and if you feel necessary provide your relationship to the deceased.
  • Give a gift – Often families request specific contributions be made to the charity of the family’s choice, or you can send flowers or offer a commitment of service to the family at a later date.  Cooking them dinner, or offering to clean up their house, any of the “little” things that may be neglected while a family deals with death, are other gifts you can give.  Make sure you provide a signed card so the family knows who gave the gift.
  • Keep in Touch – You may feel that the family needs their space and time to grieve, but a simple phone call or note after the funeral lets the family know you care.  With social networking leaving a quick note is as simple as a click of a mouse.  The months following a death is when grieving friends and family need the most support.
  • Be sure your cell phone is left outside of the funeral service or turned off.
  • From a very young age children are aware of death, and if the funeral is for someone that was close to them (grandparent, aunt, uncle) they should be given the option to attend.  However if it is not appropriate for your child to be there, and if you feel they will cause a commotion, they should not attend.
  • Don't be afraid to remember the good times – Funerals are obviously a time of grieving and mourning, but remembering the good times helps with the healing process.  Sharing a funny and appropriate story is acceptable, and in some cases exactly what the deceased would have wanted.