Funeral Services Etiquette

Funeral: 01/01/1970 at

Do you ever have questions about the do’s and don’ts of a funeral service? Well each religion and culture have different customs. Here are the most common ones that will help you feel more at ease when attending a funeral.
Isn’t a funeral and a memorial service the same thing?
A funeral service has the body of the deceased present. While a memorial does not have the body present. Sometimes a memorial is just a service remembering the deceased. In some cultures it is accustomed to hold memorial services every year on the birthday of the deceased.
Do you have to go to the viewing?
No. You are welcomed to attend to show respect but you are not forced to. If you still want to attend but don’t want to see the body there a simple solution. When you arrive you can either go to another room or sit in the back. The viewing in some cultures is the time when people pray in silence for the deceased.
Do I sign the register/guestbook? Do I sign it twice?
The register/guestbook is for everyone who attended the viewing or the funeral. It is not limited to just family. There is only one guestbook so if you signed it at the viewing it is recommend not to sign it again at the funeral. The guestbook is for the family to look back and see who all attended. Sometimes families send out thank you cards based on who signed the book.
What if the funeral service is at a church and I’m not religious, can I go?
Yes! A funeral service is not just for religion. A funeral service is the time where people gather to celebrate the life of the deceased. You don’t have to participate in the customs of the church because you are there. Remember everyone is there for the same reason.
Where do I sit?
Typically the first two rows are for the immediate and extended family. The closer the person was to the deceased the closer they tend to sit. If you don’t feel like it’s your place to sit close you don’t have to.
Do I bring a gift?
Gifts are always welcomed especially if the family asked for one. A common gift is flowers. If they are sent before the service they can be used to decorate the viewing, funeral and/or memorial. Sometimes the family will list an organization they wish people will donate to and that is acceptable as well.
What if the burial is at a different location?
If there is a secondary site, guest will drive to the location by following a hearse. Remember to turn on your lights so it signals that you are part of the procession.
What do I do at the burial?
At the burial site there will usually be a handful of seats available. Those seats are for immediate family only. Everyone else will stand behind them or around the casket.