Do’s and Don'ts of Funeral Etiquette

Posted by Michael Hummell on

If you recently heard of someone you know passing away, you may feel sad and anxious at the same time. Sad because all those good memories will flashback and anxious because of not knowing how to deal with it. This anxiety could come from the uncertainty of not knowing the proper funeral etiquette. It can be challenging to find the right words and act appropriately in such a serious setting, and this can be even more challenging if you have not attended many funerals.


So, if you find yourself in a situation where you need to participate in a funeral viewing or visitation, a wake, or a memorial service it is essential that you first understand the difference between these services and also to make sure that you learn some etiquette so that you will know how to communicate properly with the deceased person’s grieving family, while exuding dignity and respect during the service.


For those who don't know the difference between these services, we will be explaining them below:

  •    A Memorial Service

A Memorial Service is similar to the funeral service, but in this case, the body is absent (if the deceased was cremated a funeral urn may be present). Memorial service is a gathering where the family and friends of the deceased are invited to. During this service, prayers, songs, and a eulogy are also offered.

  •    A Visitation Service

This is a time whereby visitations are held at the funeral or family home before the funeral service. Friends and families are invited to meet with the deceased family to offer condolences. However, the body of the deceased might be present, but it all depends on the preference of the family of the deceased.

  •    Viewing

The body of the deceased will be present for this service, and it will have been embalmed and ready for burial or cremation by the funeral home. This is an opportunity for the deceased friends and family to see the deceased for the last time.

  •    A Funeral Wake

A funeral wake is a small gathering held before the funeral service. This gathering allows family and friends to have the opportunity to honor, recognize the deceased, and provide comfort to the grieving family.


With that being said, Here are a few do’s and don'ts of funeral etiquette that will help the families of the deceased feel better, and leave them with more happy memories of their loved ones.

  1.    Memorial Service Etiquette

Appropriately connecting with people who are grieving requires courtesy. Sending a card is a perfect way to express your sympathy. Calling on the family at home or by telephone should always be done with their convenience in mind. In the same way, keep your smartphone on silent and put away for the majority of the service. In addition, this is not the time or place to take photos unless you have the family’s permission to do so.

  1.    Funeral Visitation Etiquette

Gone are the days of dressing up in all black for a funeral, but jeans and a t-shirt isn’t exactly acceptable either, do show respect when picking out your funeral attire, you should wear clothing that is conservative. You’ll want to appear dignified and respectful, so stay away from bright colors and patterns which can send the wrong message to the mourning family.

  1.    Funeral Viewing Etiquette

You should be prepared for the deceased to be in the room with you, also note that viewing is not a religious service. Wear relatively formal, conservative clothing, and stay for a little while to speak with other mourners and the family members. It is an opportunity for family and close friends to take one last look at the deceased before the body is buried or cremated.

  1.    Wake Etiquette

When attending this service, make sure you give your condolences to the family, many people have the idea that wake is where people drink and toast the deceased. You can also make use of the opportunity to share stories and memories of the deceased, remembering the good times helps with the healing process.

Funerals are a difficult time for everyone involved, but knowing how to offer support to the family properly make the experience a little less awkward.


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