Funeral Etiquette

Funerals themselves have changed somewhat over time, but common courtesy is always important. As always, Crane Funerals are here to help with advice on funeral etiquette. If you have any concerns regarding an upcoming funeral you are attending – and what might be expected – by all means contact us to check.

Here is a list of 13 tips on what to do at a funeral:

  • Offer an expression of sympathy: Often you may not know what to say when confronted by death. Simply offering your condolences to family members is an excellent way to begin. Saying something like “I’m very sorry for your loss”, is simple yet supportive. As long as you are respectful and attentive, this is an excellent way to show you care.
  • Find out if there is a special dress code: With our modern Celebration Ceremonies, anything might go! The deceased and their family may have requested mourners not to wear black, or perhaps to wear favourite football team colours or some such thing. This will generally be advertised when the funeral details are advertised, and it is a good thing to confirm before the day.
  • Sign the Memorial Book: This is a nice keepsake for the family. Include your name and maybe your relationship to the deceased and your address if time permits. The family may use this to send you a thank you card at some stage, and it can be a nice way for them to meet some different friends of their loved one if they haven’t met you before.
  • Remember you can smile: At a funeral, sharing a humorous story can often be a nice way to remember a departed loved one. Use your common sense and pick the time when it seems right. If others are sharing similar stories then of course that would be a suitable time to join in and remember the deceased with a smile or two. Remembering them in a happy way can help you and the family come to terms with the loss.
  • Attend the viewing: If there is a rosary or viewing prior to the service, you may wish to attend without seeing the deceased. That is perfectly acceptable and the family will appreciate the support of you just being there. Do what is comfortable for you.
  • Give a gift to the family: Generally this will be flowers, but it doesn’t hurt to “think outside the square” so to speak. Flowers are lovely but don’t always last very long. It’s mainly the thought that counts, but maybe something a little more personal would be a nice way to show support. Remember to include a card so the family knows where the flowers or gift came from.
  • Stay in touch with the family: The family’s grief will not end at the funeral. Keeping in touch and letting them know you care is important well after the day of the funeral. If you feel uncomfortable and unsure what to say or do, even just a text message or email might suffice to let them know you are thinking of them. If you feel able, a phone call or visit would probably be even better.
  • Be sensitive to others: Be mindful of the wishes of the family and the mood of other mourners in attendance. At a cemetery, walk between the headstones wherever possible and keep from walking on peoples graves. If you have children with you it’s a good chance to teach them the same mindfulness.
  • Bring children to the service: Kids are important family members too. It can be a good way to help them learn more about life and death. If they are old enough – and they would like to – maybe they could draw a picture, or write a card for the deceased to go into the coffin as their farewell. The circle of life continues with the children in our lives.
  • Turn your mobile phone off: We have witnessed mobile phones ringing at funerals too many times to mention. An even better remedy to turning it off, might be to leave it in your car. A phone going off can certainly interrupt a Ceremony in a negative way – even more so with some of the modern ringtones on offer! By all means you can share your experience via text or email with friends who weren’t able to attend, but that is best done at the conclusion of the service.
  • Follow cemetery or crematorium rules: Obey the rules of opening hours, decorating graves, and so on. Don’t litter, and if you bring a pet with you keep them on a leash and clean up after them. Before taking a loved one’s pet into a Chapel, you must check with the Funeral Director, and Funeral Venue before the day of the service.
  • Remember the road rules: Following a hearse in cortege on the way to the cemetery can sometimes be a stressful task. When the line of cars is long, traffic lights are bound to play havoc with keeping everybody together. Remember not to speed in an effort to catch up. Generally a hearse will slow down a little when it realises some mourners have been caught at the lights. Inside the cemetery remember to stay on the roadways and don’t drive on the grass. Be mindful of people who may be visiting graves and please treat their mourning time with respect.
  • Don’t take too many photos: Especially if you don’t ask people first, this can be very offensive. Funerals are a private time for many people. Also remember to refrain from offensive language, and speak at an acceptable volume.