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Celebrating a Life: Blog

    10 Questions and Answers About Funeral Etiquette

    Posted by Mark Busch June 21, 2016

    12340352784_3b2cdef319_z.jpgAttending a funeral can be an emotional and awkward experience for many people. It’s not uncommon to be unsure of what to wear, who to bring or how to act. Below are answers to common questions to help make this experience a bit easier for you.

    1. What should I wear to a funeral?

    Traditionally, most people wear black to a funeral unless otherwise requested by the family. It’s important to dress modestly, as the attention should be on the grieving family and the deceased. Avoid plunging necklines, tennis shoes and ripped clothing.

    2. When is it appropriate to send a sympathy card?

    Many people still send sympathy cards even if they attend the funeral. It’s best to send a card within two weeks of someone’s death. 

    Related resource10 Sympathy Quotes for Someone Who’s Grieving

    3. How long should I stay during visiting hours? 

    You may be surprised to learn that the average person isn’t expected to stay long during visiting hours. It is common courtesy to stay at least 15 minutes.

    4. Are cell phones ever okay?

    The short answer is no. You should turn your phone on silent and shouldn’t be using it during the service. Give the family your undivided attention during the short time you’ll be there. It’s a good idea to consider leaving your phone in the car.

    5. When should children attend a funeral service or memorial?

    This is usually a judgment call for parents to make on a case-by-case basis. Funerals are a critical part of the grieving process, even for children. If your child is old enough to comprehend death, most parents opt to bring them along. Children can bring an uplifting presence to a funeral. Babies and toddlers are more likely to be a distraction, but it does come back to a parent’s best judgment. 

    6. Do I have to sign the register? 

    If a family has a register or book for visitors to sign their name, it’s proper etiquette to sign. Families use this as a way to remember who took the time to pay their respects and send thank you cards.

    7. Does timing matter?

    It’s always a good idea to arrive a little early. A funeral is a sensitive setting, and arriving late isn’t a way to show your respect.

    8. Is it okay to be humorous and lighten the mood? 

    Yes. But, you must do so with respect. If a eulogy includes humor and small jokes, it’s okay to laugh and continue the tone on your own.

    9. Do I have to view the casket?

    Viewing an open casket is often considered uncomfortable. If you decide not to approach the casket for a final farewell, this isn’t considered rude or in poor taste. It’s up to the individual and depends on the relationship between them and the deceased.

    10. How can I acknowledge a funeral that I cannot attend? 

    If you can’t attend a funeral due to conflicts or distance, pay your respects in a different way. Find out if there is a charity the family recommends you donate to in honor of the deceased. It’s also never too late to send flowers or a card to remind people you’re thinking of them during an emotional time. If you would like to send an arrangement to families being helped by Busch Funeral Homes, simply order from our online flower shop.

    Keep these etiquette tips in mind the next time you attend a funeral to honor the deceased and their family.

    Image Credit: Flickr via U.S. Army


    Topics: Burial


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