Funeral Etiquette

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


What to Wear

Try to find out the dress code before you attend, so that you can be sure you will fit in and look appropriate. If you are not sure, simply try to dress in a conservative way that shows respect for the family and other mourners. This does not mean you must wear black, but try to avoid overly bright colors. For men, a suit or blazer and/or a conservative tie is usually a safe bet. Women should generally wear a conservative dress, skirt, or pants with a tasteful blouse.


Religious & Ethnic Customs

Traditions and customs differ among various communities, ethnic groups and religions, and it is often helpful to ask beforehand about any special considerations you need to take into account. We can answer many of your questions and can also point you toward resources that offer specific and detailed guides.

 

Emotions

A funeral is an emotional time, and grieving is a natural part of the healing process. Do not feel uncomfortable if you or the bereaved begins to cry. However, if you find yourself becoming extremely upset, it is kinder to excuse yourself to avoid increasing the strain on the family.

 

Greeting the Family

Upon arrival, approach the family and express your sympathy with an embrace or by offering your hands. Do not feel that you should avoid talking about the person who has died...in fact, talking can help the grieving process to begin.

 

What to Say

Express your sympathy in your own words, whatever might be natural for to you. Kind words about the loved one who has passed are always appropriate, and a simple "I am sorry for your loss" or "My thoughts and prayers are with you" can be meaningful and comforting for the bereaved. Your presence is what is more important than most anything you can say in words

 

What Not to Say

Do not ask the cause of death; if the family wants to discuss it, let them bring it up. Avoid giving unsolicited advice, or making comments that might unintentionally diminish the importance of the loss, such as "I have been through this before."

 

Paying Respect

At a service with an open casket, it is customary to show your respect by viewing the deceased and, if you wish, spending a few moments in silent prayer. The family may escort you to the casket, or you might approach on your own. Viewing the deceased is not mandatory, however, and you should act according to what is comfortable to you.

After you have offered your condolences to the family, it is perfectly appropriate to engage in quiet conversation with friends and other associates of the deceased who attend the visitation or funeral. Do not feel that you have to stay longer than you feel comfortable; your presence means a lot to the family, no matter how long or short the visit.

 

Signing the Register

Be sure to add yourself to the register book, using your full name so that the family can identify you in the future. It is also helpful to add information about how you knew the deceased-through work, social clubs, school, etc.

 

Flowers and Gifts

Sending flowers, making a donation, or giving a memorial gift are all meaningful gestures to let the bereaved know that they are in your thoughts. The simplest of tributes can be of great comfort to the family and can express your sympathy when words just are not enough.

 

Turn Off Your Cellphone

This one should go without saying. If you choose to bring your phone into the funeral home, take a moment to make sure you have turned it off.

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