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

Funeral Etiquette

Attending a funeral service is an emotional experience. Keep the following guidelines in mind when expressing your support to the friends and family of the deceased:

  • Try to find out the dress code before you attend.
  • Ask beforehand about any traditions, customs or special considerations you need to take into account.
  • Don’t feel uncomfortable if you or the bereaved begins to cry. Excuse yourself if you find yourself becoming extremly upset.
  • Kind words about the loved one who has passed are always appropriate.
  • Avoid giving unsolicited advice or making comments that might unintentionally diminish the importance of the loss, such as “I’ve been through this before.”
  • Viewing an open casket is customary, but not mandatory. Act according to what is comfortable to you.
  • Be sure to add yourself to the register book.
  • If you choose to bring your cell phone into the funeral home, take a moment to make sure you’ve turned it off.
  • 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.

Cemetery Etiquette

When visiting a cemetery, there are a number of basic rules you should keep in mind. These tips will help to keep you out of trouble and make sure you and your fellow visitors enjoy a courteous, peaceful experience:

  • Be respectful to other mourners: remember to keep your voice down when having conversations, and avoid using bad language.
  • Follow the rules and observe any floral regulations the cemetery has set.
  • Try not to remain in the cemetery after dark to avoid being charged with trespassing.
  • Follow the roadways and remain off the grass.
  • Don’t touch any monuments or headstones; this is not only disrespectful,but may cause damage to the memorials, especially older ones.
  • Never remove anything from a gravestone, such as flowers, coins, or tributes thathave been left by the family.
  • If you bring children, make sure to keep a close eye on them and keep them from running, yelling, and playing or climbing on graves and monuments.
  • Never take photos of strangers at a funeral or visiting a gravesite; it is extremely disrespectful to them in their time of grief.