Funeral Etiquette

Most of us are unsure as to what is proper funeral etiquette. If we are honest almost all of us would admit to being uncomfortable at functions of this sort.

Customs will vary. They will be affected by geographical location, ethnic background, and religious ties. All of these may influence the style of visitation and funeral.

The Visitation

Usually there is a visitation. One place to check the date and times is in the newspaper. Often they have obituaries listed. More and more funeral homes have their own websites. Here they will have listed any services they have coming up. You can also call to get the information.

Generally visitations are held at funeral homes. This is a time to greet the family members of the deceased and pay last respects.

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Make sure to sign the registry. Then the family can read over it at a later time and remember who came(they can be in such a fog at that time and be seeing so many people come through that they may have difficulty remembering all who came).

Expect that there may be a line of people waiting to speak to the bereaved family. Try to schedule your time so that you have prepared for this wait time.

If the family would not know you well, be sure to identify yourself and how you know the deceased. It is not necessary to say a great deal. What you say is less important, letting them know you care is the main thing.

It is unnecessary to stay at the visitation for the entire time. Once you have spoken to the family you can stay and visit with others. It is perfectly acceptable to leave at this point as well. Often many people will be waiting for their turn to pay respects to the family.

funeral etiquette church in the distance

            The Funeral

The funeral itself might be held at the funeral home or the family's church. The style of service will depend upon the family's culture and beliefs. Usually there is some form of music along with remembrances of the person and often scripture readings.

funeral etiquette cemetery

The Graveside Service

If the deceased is to be buried locally there might be a vehicle procession to the cemetery following the funeral. Be sure to turn on your lights. Then follow the hearse and other lead cars. There usually will be a short graveside service with another scripture reading.

Sometimes a funeral dinner will follow the services. It is often held at the church or occasionally at a restaurant.

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