Funeral Etiquette

When attending a visitation or funeral, many people find themselves uncertain of what they 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.

Making the Most of a Difficult Time

It is important to know what religious, ethnic, or personal considerations you need to take into account.  And it is also important to be respectful of the emotions of close family members.

Here are a few things expected of you:

-Offer an expression of sympathy.

Sometimes we are at a loss for words when encountering something as final as death.  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.

-Find out the dress code.

These days almost anything goes, but only when you know it is right.  In fact, sometimes the deceased has specified the dress code; 'no black' is a common request.  If you cannot learn the wishes of the family, then dress conservatively and avoid bright colors.

-Give a gift.

Sending flowers, making a donation, or giving a memorial gift are all meaningful and lets 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.  Always make sure to provide the family with a signed card, so they know what gift was given and by whom.

-Sign the register book.

Include not only your name, but your relationship to the deceased: co-worker, friend, neighbor, church, or casual acquaintance.  This helps the family place who you are when reviewing the register book in the future.

-Keep in touch.

It is sometimes awkward for you to do so, but for most people the grieving does not end with a funeral.


BUT, What Shouldn't You Do?

-Don't feel that you have to stay.

If you make a visit during calling hours, there is no reason your stay has to be a lengthy one.

-Don't neglect to step into the receiving line.

Simply say how sorry you are for their loss, offer up your name, and how you knew the deceased.

-Don't be afraid to laugh.

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.  There is simply no good reason you should not talk about the deceased in a happy, positive tone.

-Don't feel you have to view the deceased if there is an open casket.

Act according to what is comfortable to you.

-Don't allow your children to be a disturbance.

If you feel they might be, then leave them with a sitter.  But, if the deceased meant something to them, it is a good idea to invite them to share in the experience.

-Don't leave your cell phone on.

Switch it off before entering the funeral home, or better yet, leave it in the car.  All too often, we see people checking their cell phones for messages during the funeral services.

-Don't be hard on yourself if you make a mistake.

Everyone does, and you can be sure that an apology may be all that is needed to mend and soothe.


When it is all over, always remember to continue to offer 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.


We are Here to Help

Perhaps you have special concerns about an upcoming funeral or memorial service.  We are here to provide the answers.  Contact us at 330-868-4114 or 330-863-0441 or by email at [email protected]