When attending a visitation or funeral, you might find yourself uncertain of what you should wear, say, or do. We've put together a short guide to the basics of funeral home etiquette to help you pay your respects with courtesy and consideration.
What to Wear
Try to find out the dress code before you attend so that you can be sure you'll fit in and look appropriate. If you aren't sure, simply try to dress conservatively that shows respect for the family and other mourners. This doesn't necessarily mean you must wear black (in fact, some families specify "no black" for their services), but try to avoid overly bright colors. For men, a suit and a conservative tie is usually safe bet. Women should generally wear a conservative dress, skirt, or pants with a tasteful blouse.
Religious & Ethnic Customs
Traditions and customs differ among various communities, ethnic groups, and religions, and it's often helpful to ask beforehand about any special considerations you need to consider. We can answer many of your questions and point you toward resources that offer specific and detailed guides.
What to Say
Express your sympathy in your own words; however, it feels right to you. Kind words about the loved one who has passed are always appropriate, and a simple "I'm sorry for your loss" or "My thoughts and prayers are with you" can be meaningful and comforting for the bereaved.
At a service with an open casket, it's customary to show your respect by viewing the deceased and, if you wish, spending a few moments in silent prayer. The family may escort you to the casket, or you might approach yourself. However, viewing the deceased is not mandatory, and you should act according to what is comfortable to you.
Signing the Register
Be sure to add yourself to the register book, using your full name so that the family can identify you in the future. It's also helpful to add information about how you knew the deceased-through work, social clubs, school, etc.
Flowers and Gifts
Sending flowers, donating, or giving a memorial gift are all meaningful gestures to let the bereaved know they are in your thoughts. The simplest of tributes can be of great comfort to the family and can express your sympathy when words just aren't enough.
Turn Off Your Cellphone
This one should go without saying. If you choose to bring your phone into the funeral home, take a moment to make sure you've turned it off.
When visiting a cemetery, these tips will help you enjoy a peaceful experience.
Follow the Rules
Most cemeteries have a sign posted near the entrance listing rules specific to the property. Follow the rules and observe any floral regulations they might have set. Make sure to follow and obey the cemetery hours.
Respect the Grave
Don't touch any monuments or headstones; this is not only disrespectful but may cause damage to the memorials — especially older ones. Never remove anything from a gravestone, such as flowers, coins, or tributes that have been left by a family.
Be Respectful of Services and Other Mourners
If a funeral is occurring, take care not to get in the way of processions. Respect their privacy and give them their space.
Speak Softly and Politely
Be respectful to other mourners. Remember to keep your voice down when having conversations. Make sure your phone is muted or turned off
Look After Your Children
If you bring children, make sure to keep a close eye on them and keep them from running, yelling, and playing or climbing on graves and monuments.
Don’t Leave Trash Behind
Use designated receptacles if provided; otherwise, hang onto your trash and take it with you when you leave.