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 are the best guides to proper funeral etiquette.  Here are a few suggested guidelines for funeral etiquette.

DO:

  • 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, but you don’t need to be a poet. 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. All colors and styles are worn today.
  • Sign the register book – The family will keep the register book as a memento for years.  Be sure to include your full name and relationship to the deceased.
  • 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 are when grieving friends and family need the most support.

DON’T:

  • Bring your cell phone – Your phone ringing will be highly inappropriate and will cause a disturbance, so turn any ringers or notifications off.  Even better, leave your phone in your car. Texting or checking your messages can wait.
  • Allow your children to be a distraction – From a very young age, children are aware of death. 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, leave them with a babysitter.
  • 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.