Funeral Etiquette

Funeral etiquette and what is expected has evolved over time, like the rest of society. So, using discretion and common sense is a good guide for funeral etiquette. Here are some do’s and don’ts for funeral etiquette.


  • Express Condolences

It is not the easiest task to come up with a way of offering sympathy to someone who just lost a loved one. You do not need to be a poet. Many times, simply saying that you are sorry for your loss and that you are thinking of their family is enough. If you are not able to make it to the funeral service, it is a nice idea to send a card or leave a message on the memorial website.

  • Dress Appropriately

The days of wearing all black to a funeral are gone. However, at the same time wearing a t-shirt and jeans to a funeral is not always appropriate. This will depend on the person, but it is a good idea to dress to impress and avoid bright colors. So, you should wear what you would to a job interview or a wedding.

  • Sign the Register Book

The register book is held onto by many families as a memento. When signing, make sure to include your full name and your relationship to the deceased.

  • Give a Gift

You do not need to send a huge gift, after all it’s the thought that counts. Some gifts are flowers, donations to the family’s choice of charity, or you can spend time with the family at a later date. Other gifts can include cooking them a meal or helping them with the ‘little’ things that can pile up after a loss. 

  • Keep in Touch

It is common to feel that you should give the family some space and time to grieve, but a short phone call or a note after the service lets the family know that you care. Thanks to social media and email, it only takes a few seconds to send a quick note. The months after a loss are when grieving families and friends need the most support.


  • Bring Your Cell Phone

This is a challenge to many people because we are so connected online. However, cell phones ringing in the middle of a funeral service is an unwelcome disturbance. So, if you have to bring your phone, turn off the notifications and ringers. Turning your phone on airplane mode can limit the chances of it ringing or receiving new notifications. You can also leave your phone in your car, especially if you think that you will be tempted to check for messages or notifications during a service.

  • Allow Your Children to be Distracting

Many children, even at a young age, are aware of death and if the services are for someone that was close to them, like a grandparent, uncle, or aunt, they should be allowed the option of attending the funeral. However, there are times where bringing your children is not appropriate. If you think that your children could cause a commotion, it is best to hire a babysitter to watch them during the service.

  • Be Afraid of Remembering the Good Times

Funerals and memorial services are times for mourning and grieving, but remembering all the good times that you had with the person can help with the healing process. Sometimes, sharing funny stories that are appropriate are accepted and could even be what the loved one would have wanted.

  • Overindulge

If food and drinks are served, you should not overdo it. You should have a small meal before going to the service because you don’t want to be the person that is parked at the snack table. If there is alcohol being served, limit yourself to one or two drinks at the most. You should avoid becoming inebriated, so you don't risk saying or doing something inappropriate.