What To Expect At A Funeral

Funerals are always a difficult and emotional occasion. Many people get nervous or anxious when attending a funeral. There are some basic principles when it comes to one’s behavior and etiquette throughout the funeral process.

Condolence Visits

If you are a close friend or family member of the deceased, it is proper to pay a visit to the home of the family members before the funeral, to offer your help and share fond memories.

Before a Wake

A wake is a time when family and close friends come together before a funeral to spend time in remembrance of the deceased. Many people will offer to bring food, watch children, clean house or help with any of the planning.

Expressing Your Sympathy

Sending flowers to the church, funeral home or the family’s home is a well-known way of expressing your sympathy. When words can’t say it, flowers will show it.

The Visitation

  • Unless you are close to the family, be sure to introduce yourself and how you know the deceased.

“I’m so sorry for your loss. Frances was an amazing woman, I worked with her for years.”

  • If you are close to the family, speak with them for a few moments sharing your grief and comforting them with kindness.
  • After speaking with the family, it is appropriate to stand by the casket for a moment or two to say a prayer or take a moment of silence for the deceased.
  • Mingling with fellow guests is proper after you have paid your respects. Making jokes and laughing is not appropriate at a visitation. It is best to keep your voice low and your tone somber.
  • Be sure to sign the register before leaving.

The Funeral

Seating at funerals is often as follows:

  • Family sits in the front few rows
  • Close friends are in the rows after the family
  • Acquaintances and co-workers are farther back

The Procession To The Grave Site

Unless this is a graveside burial, there will be a procession from the funeral home to the grave site. You will follow along with the procession in your own vehicle. Turn on your hazard lights and stay close in the line.

After the Funeral

Pay respects to the family with a hug or kind gesture before leaving.


Luncheons are casual, light and usually follow the funeral. Attendance is strictly by invitation only. It is a good time to sit and share uplifting memories with the family.

Follow Up

This could be one of the most important rules when it comes to funeral etiquette. After everything is over and the family and friends have gone, the family is still grieving. Don’t forget them. Call them after a few days, after a few weeks and even months to check in, and offer any help that is needed. The family will be deeply grateful and comforted by your kindness.

More Funeral Practices To Consider

What to wear? Black, conservative and professional clothing is traditionally worn at funeral services. Dark or neutral colors are also acceptable.

Attendance to the services: Be on time. Do not come in late. Do not leave early. It is important to stay until the service is over.

No cell phones: No texting or checking emails at any point during the visitation, wake, funeral or burial.

Attending a funeral can be intimidating. Just remember that you are there to honor and show respect to your loved one and to the grieving families. It’s okay to cry, it’s okay to laugh, just be respectful and sincere in everything you do.

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply