Funeral Etiquette for the Inexperienced July 11, 2018

While funerals are not very comfortable ceremonies to attend, it is important to remember that your presence during this difficult time is significant to the loved ones of the deceased.  It is a time of mourning and grieving. Don’t let the unfamiliarity of the rites and traditions embraced by the family keep you from attending. You will bring great comfort to the family just by being present. Whether this is your first funeral or not, if you seek to honor the deceased and their loved ones and follow the basic rules below, you will be ready to attend the funeral.


When it comes to funeral etiquette, there are certain points that transcend any cultural or religious differences. If you are attending a funeral for a friend with a background different from yours be sure to ask a family member or another friend from a similar culture to find out the do’s and don’ts for their funeral ceremonies. Funerals today vary, from traditional ceremonies to extremely informal. Here are a few commonalities:


  • Arrive at least 10 – 15 minutes before the ceremony.
  • Some funerals include a guest book. This reminds the family of your love and support during their grieving.  If there is a guest book, please sign it.
  • Bringing flowers or a card are considered appropriate for most funerals.
  • Be patient with any delays to the start of the ceremony.
  • Dress conservatively.
  • Turn off your cell phone or any other electronic devices.
  • Once the ceremony is starting do not chat with people around you. Funerals are solemn ceremonies and silence is often expected during the formal service.
  • If you brought children and they are crying or otherwise creating any type of disturbance take them out of the service.
  • Crying is natural at a funeral, however, if you begin to weep uncontrollably excusing yourself from the service for a time is recommended.
  • Photography is not acceptable unless the family has asked you to take specific photos.
  • Leaving in the middle of the ceremony is considered rude. Only leave if it is an emergency.
  • Respect the family by following their traditions at the funeral service to the best of your ability. This shows cooperation and caring for the bereaved family.


The best overall recommendation on etiquette for attending any funeral is to remember funerals are solemn ceremonies and they are for showing family members support. Your caring and supportive presence is truly the most important way to honor your lost friend or loved one.

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