Funeral Etiquette

There’s more to it than what you wear. Certainly the accepted customs of dress and behavior in a funeral have changed over time, but courtesy never goes out of style.

What IS appropriate at a funeral?

old photographs•    How do I offer sympathy?
It’s hard to know what to say when encountering the finality of death. However, 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.
•    What’s the dress code?
Dress conservatively if you do not know the wishes of the family.
•     Is a gift appropriate?
It is the thought that counts when giving a gift. A gift can be flowers, a donation to a charity or a non-financial commitment of service to the family at a later date.  Gifts of household items (paper plates, cups, soft drinks, postage stamps, bathroom tissue etc.) and also food are always helpful at the families’ home. No matter what you choose to give, always make sure to provide the family with a signed card, so they know what gift was given, and by whom.  Include your return address.
•    How should I sign the register book?
If your signature is not legible, please print.  Include the city and state you are from.
•    Do I keep in touch?
It can be awkward at first for you, but for most people the grieving doesn’t end with a funeral. Contacts after the funeral are very appreciated.

What should NOT be done at a funeral?

grieving family •    How long should I stay?
If you make a visit during calling hours there’s no reason your stay has to be a lengthy one.
•    Is it ok to laugh?
There is simply no good reason you shouldn’t talk about the deceased in a happy, positive tone. 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 do so too.
•     Do I  have to view the deceased if there is an open casket?
Act according to what is comfortable to you.
•     Can I bring my children?
If the deceased meant something to them, it’s a good idea to invite them to share in the experience. But, if you feel they might be disruptive, then leave them with a sitter.
•     What if I need my cell phone?
Leave your phone in the car or switch it off before entering the funeral home. At the very least, turn your phone to vibrate if turning it off is not an option.
•    What do I say in the receiving line.
Simply say how sorry you are for their loss, offer up your own name and how you knew the deceased.

When the funeral is over, it’s important to continue to provide 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.