A Few Quick Tips for Proper Funeral Etiquette

By: Richard 'Ritty' Polhemus
Monday, January 23, 2017

Attending a funeral can be an emotionally charged experience, with the tendency to elicit complex and sometimes conflicting feelings. It can be a challenge to respectfully show your condolences to someone else while also dealing with your own sense of grief and loss. Compound this mental struggle with formalities like where to sit and how to act, and many start to feel a little overwhelmed. Knowing the basic etiquette and guidelines for a funeral service can help people feel more comfortable with the prospect of attending one.

What to Wear

Many people think that being invited to attend a funeral means that they immediately need to run out and buy a black dress or suit. Traditionally, black has been the color associated with mourning and grief. However, as time has progressed, so too have funeral customs and practices. While the rules aren’t as stringent as they used to be, you shouldn’t take that as permission to dress casually.

Typically, men and women should avoid wearing jeans, sneakers, or anything else that’s too casual. Most funerals are still considered formal occasions, so you should dress to impress. While you don’t necessarily have to wear black, you should stay away from flashy colors or attention grabbing prints. As a good rule of thumb, anything you might wear to a wedding or a job interview would be appropriate.

How to Act

It’s always a good idea to express your condolences. Some may hesitate to approach the grieving family because they feel it might be intrusive. In reality, grieving family members generally appreciate any support or condolences offered to them, no matter who they come from.

For some, it may be hard to figure out precisely how to express your feelings. The perfect words to say are the ones that are honest and sincere, regardless of how eloquently they’re spoken. Something like, “I’m so sorry for your loss, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family” is perfect as long as it’s sincere.

It’s customary to offer a gift to the bereaved. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant one - something simple like flowers, a card, or a home-cooked meal are perfect. They’re tangible offerings of respect and condolences that show you care.

During and After the Service

During a funeral service, emotions run high. Crying is common, and certainly acceptable. If there’s a purposely humorous part of the service, then of course you can laugh. Over all, it’s important to be respectful of those around you. You may spot someone you haven’t seen in years, but the middle funeral service is not the time to chat and catch up.

Keep your phone on silent and out of sight. Receiving a phone call in the middle of a service is sure to earn you a few pointed glares. Texting or checking your messages while everyone else is grieving is an obvious sign of disinterest, if not disrespect.

After some time passes, reach out to the grieving family to see how they’re doing. It’s a thoughtful way to show them you’re thinking about them and you care. The months following a passing are when friends and family need the most support, so reaching out to them during this time can really help.

Funeral Services in West Creek NJ

These are just a few general guidelines. Some people are breaking away from traditional funeral services in favor of more personalized memorial services for their loved ones. Regardless of the type of service, it’s always appropriate to celebrate the loved one’s life and all the good things they did.

For a quality service that reflects the wishes and desires of your loved one and their family, you can turn to Polhemus Cremation Services. We will respectfully and professionally put together the best possible service for you and your loved ones. We offer a variety of funeral planning options, as well as legal advice and assistance. Contact us today for more information.  


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