The accepted customs of dress and behavior at a funeral and the cemetery have changed over time, but courtesy never goes out of style. Here’s what we’d like you to know about funeral & cemetery etiquette.

Funeral Etiquette

Making the Most of a Difficult Time

It’s important to be aware of the religious, ethnic or personal customs of the family. And it’s also important to be respectful of the emotions of close family members.

Here are some suggestions and expectations:

  • Offer an expression of sympathy.
    Sometimes we are at a loss for words when encountering something as final as death. Simply saying "I'm very sorry for your loss" will be supportive.  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 as "Hawaiian shirts" or "no black".  If you do not know the wishes of the family, then dress conservatively.

  • 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; Remember, "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.  For your convenience, you can visit our online Sympathy Store and Flower Shop.

  • Sign the register book.
    Include not only your name, but your relationship to the deceased: co-worker, gym buddy, or casual acquaintance from the golf club. This helps the family recognize who you are in future.

  • Keep in touch.
    For most people, the grieving doesn't end with the funeral. Staying in touch long after the services are over is important. Sending a card that says "I'm thinking of you" will express your care and concern and will be a treasured memory.  

Other Things to Think About?
  • Don't feel that you have to stay.
    If you choose to attend the Visitation,  there's no reason your stay has to be a lengthy one.

  • Don't be afraid to laugh.
    Remembering their loved one fondly can mean sharing a funny story or two. Just be mindful of the time and place; if others are sharing, then you may do so too. There is simply no good reason you shouldn't talk about the deceased in a happy, positive tone.

  • Don't feel you have to view the deceased if there is an open casket.
    Simply do what is comfortable for you.

  • Children and Funerals

  • Children are important family members and should be allowed to attend the service.  If they are age appropriate and willing, invite them to draw a picture or share a special memory.   
  • Don't leave your cell phone on.
    Switch it off before entering the mortuary, or better yet, leave it in the car. All too often, we see people checking their cell phones for messages during the services.

  • Don't neglect to step into the receiving line.
    Simply say how sorry you are for their loss, offer up your own name and how you knew the deceased.

  • Don't be too hard on yourself if you make a mistake.
    Everyone does, and you can be sure that an apology may be all that's needed to mend and soothe.

When it's all over, always remember to continue to offer support and love to the family. 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.

Cemetery Etiquette

Cemetery visitors should:

  • Be sensitive
    While driving through the cemetery, be mindful of the  radio volume from you car.

  • Help Children Understand 
    While a cemetery is a place of quiet and solitude, to a child it may look like a wonderful park.  Help your child learn to be respectful of where they are and why they are visiting.

  • Be respectful of the graves
    Walk in between headstones and if possible, do not stand on the gravesite.

  • Follow cemetery rules.
    Most have a sign near the entrance stating hours, rules about decorations, etc. Obey these rules. Rules about decorations serve to make sure the cemetery doesn't collect too much debris. Flowers and other items can blow in the wind. It would be especially nice if any trash along the way was picked up, regardless of who left it.

  • Try not to remain in the cemetery after dark.
    Most cemeteries are open from dawn to dusk.  Please adhere to closing times.

  • Don't litter.
    This creates extra work for the caretakers, and shows disrespect to the other families who come to mourn their loved ones. “Pack your trash” is a good rule of thumb: take your refuse with you when you go, or put it in trash receptacles.

  • Leash your pets.
    When you bring your pets, be sure to clean up after them.

  • Follow the roadways and don't drive on the grass.
    Drive slowly and obey any traffic signs posted in the cemetery. Pay attention to people as they come and go.  Some folks may be visibly upset and not paying complete attention to where they are going.

  • Be reverent.
    Keep the volume of voices down, and don’t use offensive language.

  • Don't be overly friendly when talking to strangers.
    Other visitors may want to be alone.

  • Don't touch any monuments or gravestones.
    They are very meaningful to the families who placed them there, and much older monuments maybe fragile

  • Don't take photos of other people or other funerals.
    This is a very private time for people. It's best to keep a distance from any funerals occurring, and be mindful of any funeral processions.

We are Here to Help

Perhaps you've got special concerns about an upcoming funeral or memorial service? Please call us at (877) 872-2736 and ask for one of our funeral directors. We are here to help you.

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