Funeral Etiquette

Common sense and good discretion always prevail, however, here are a few do’s and don’ts of funeral etiquette.


  • Express your condolences – Offer sympathy with a simple  “I am sorry for your loss," or  "My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.” These are enough.  If you can’t be attend the wake or service in person, a card or message on a memorial website is a perfect way to express your sympathy.  Often both actions mean everything to those suffering.
  • Dress appropriately – Dressing in all black is no longer expected,  however use discretion regarding your attire.  More importantly, your presence is appreciated even if you are only able to make an appearance on your way to or from work.
  • Sign the register book – The family, at this time of loss, won't always remember everyone they see. The register book is a memento they will refer to for many years afterwards.  It is always helpful to them to include your full name and relationship to the deceased.
  • Give a gift, if you choose – It is always the thought that counts.  Suitable gifts include; flowers, a donation to the charity of the family’s choice, or making a commitment of service to the family at a later date.  This can be as simple as cooking them dinner or offering to clean or run errands.   It is helpful to include a card so the family is aware.
  • Keep in Touch – A simple phone call or note after the funeral lets the family know you care and are thinking of them.  Social media is another way to let them know they haven't been forgotten.  The months following a death is when grieving friends and family need the most support.


  • Bring your cell phone – A phone ringing is highly inappropriate and disturbing, so turn it off beforehand.  Even better, leave your phone at home or in your car. 
  • Allow your children to be a distraction – From a very young age children are aware of death, and if the funeral is for someone that was close to them (grandparent, aunt, uncle) they should be given the option to attend.  However if it is not appropriate for your child to be there, and if you feel they will cause a commotion, leave them with a babysitter.
  • Be afraid to remember the good times – While funerals are thought of as somber affairs, remembering fond times with smiles and laughter helps with the healing process.  Sharing a funny and appropriate story is acceptable, and in some cases exactly what the deceased would have wanted.
  • Overindulge - If food or drink is served, be careful of over doing it.