Funeral Etiquette

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

What to Wear
Simply try to dress in a conservative way that shows respect for the family and other mourners. This doesn't necessarily mean you must wear black (in fact, some families specify "no black" for their services). For men and women conservative attire is usually a safe bet. Shorts and tank tops are not appropriate dress.

 Children
They are welcome of couse, but we ask you to keep in mind that there is a family grieving. When your child is crying, talking or given something to keep them entertained (i.e. your keys, toys etc.) it causes a huge distraction, not only for the family that is grieving, but also for the minister who is trying to bring comfort from the scriptures and even the friends that have come to pay their respects. We have had many complaints from all of the above and it saddens us. If you bring children, make sure to keep a close eye on them and keep them from running, yelling, and playing or climbing on furniture or pews.  Teach them to act in a respectful and considerate manner.  If your child becomes disruptive we ask that you remove the child from the service.

Religious & Ethnic Customs
Traditions and customs differ among various communities, ethnic groups and religions, and it's often helpful to ask beforehand about any special considerations you need to take into account. We can answer many of your questions, and can also point you toward resources that offer specific and detailed guides.

 

Emotions
A funeral is an emotional time, and grieving is a natural part of the healing process. Don't feel uncomfortable if you or the bereaved begins to cry. However, if you find yourself becoming extremely upset, it is kinder to excuse yourself to avoid increasing emotion on the family.

 

Greeting the Family
Upon arrival, approach the family and express your sympathy with an embrace or by offering your hands. Don't feel that you should avoid talking about the person who has died...in fact, talking can help the grieving process to begin.

 

What to Say
Express your sympathy in your own words, however it feels right to you. Kind words about the loved one who has passed are always appropriate, and a simple "I'm sorry for your loss" or "My thoughts and prayers are with you" can be meaningful and comforting for the bereaved.

 

What Not to Say
Don't ask the cause of death; if the family wants to discuss it, let them bring it up. Avoid giving unsolicited advice, or making comments that might unintentionally diminish the importance of the loss, such as "I've been through this before, or I know how you feel." Everyone handles the loss of a loved one differently. 

 

Paying Respect
At a service with an open casket, it's customary to show your respect by viewing the deceased. Our funeral director will usher you by the casket. Viewing the deceased is not mandatory, however, and you should act according to what is comfortable to you. If you find yourself getting overly emotional, remember that the family is grieving as well and that is NOT the time for them to comfort you. Always be mindful of the family and their grief.

 

How to Act
After you've offered your condolences to the family, it's perfectly appropriate to engage in quiet conversation with friends and other associates of the deceased who attend the visitation. Don't feel that you have to stay longer than you feel comfortable; your presence means a lot to the family, no matter how long or short the visit.

 

Signing the Register
Be sure to add yourself to the register book, using your full name so that the family can identify you in the future. It's also helpful to add information about how you knew the deceased-through work, social clubs, school, etc.

 

Flowers and Gifts
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. If the family has ask in lieu of flowers, for donations to be made in the memory of their loved one to a certain church or charity please abide by the families wishes. This memorial will last, flowers will not.  The simplest of tributes can be of great comfort to the family, and can express your sympathy when words just aren't enough.

 

Turn Off Your Cellphone
This one should go without saying. If you choose to bring your phone into the funeral home, take a moment to make sure you've turned it off.