Funeral Etiquette

The accepted customs of dress and behavior in a funeral have changed over time, but courtesy never goes out of style. It's important to know what religious, ethnic or personal considerations you need to take into account. It's also important to be respectful of the emotions of close family members. Here's what we'd like you to know about funeral etiquette.


  • 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's the right thing. In fact, sometimes the deceased has specified the dress code; "no black" is a common request. If you can't learn the wishes of the family, then dress conservatively, and avoid bright colors.
  • Give a gift: It doesn't matter if it is flowers, a donation to a charity or a commitment of service to the family at a later date; as always, "it's the thought that counts." 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: coworker, gym buddy, or casual acquaintance from the golf club. This helps family place who you are in future.
  • Keep in touch: It's sometimes awkward for you to do so, but for most people the grieving doesn't end with a funeral.



  • Don't feel that you have to stay.
  • Don't be afraid to laugh.
  • 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.
  • Don't leave your cell phone on.
  • Don't neglect to step into the receiving line.
  • Don't be too hard on yourself if you make a mistake.


When it's 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.