What To Know When Attending A Funeral

Attending a funeral can be a stressful experience. Learn how best to behave, in today's article.

Funerals are an emotional, sensitive, and difficult experience for the loved ones and friends of the deceased. If you’re attending one for the first time, you might be asking questions like what you should wear, say, or do during the ceremony.

To help guide you, please see below our rundown of 10 basics for funeral etiquette that will help keep you feeling more comfortable.


Funerals will often have their own dress code for guests to follow. But, if there isn’t one, a good tip is just to dress conservatively and respectfully. While many people wear black to funerals, it’s not required. All the same, try to steer clear of bright colors. 

Consider Customs and Traditions

Different communities and religions have different customs, so it’s good to ask, prior to the service, if you should consider any of these. Even if you're somewhat close to the family, you might not be familiar with their specific traditions. Reach out to the family, if you know them and have access to them. The funeral home can also help to answer any questions you have as well as provide a guide.

How To Greet The Loved Ones

When you arrive, greet the deceased’s loved ones with sympathy. You don’t have to feel like you need to avoid speaking about the deceased, either. Often, it can actually help the grieving process, simply talking about the person in a positive way.

Express Your Condolences

Sometimes, it’s hard to know what to say to the loved ones of someone who has passed. It’s always a good idea to offer sympathy and kind words about the person. Simply saying "I'm sorry for your loss" or "I’m thinking of you" can help comfort the grieving.

What Words To Avoid

While it may seem helpful to say things like “I’ve been through this before,” it’s good to avoid those statements. Phrases like that can often diminish the loss for the family. It’s also a matter of consideration to not ask about the cause of death or give unsolicited advice.

Handling Emotions

Funerals naturally bring up emotions, so don’t feel uncomfortable if you or the family begin to cry. If you do become upset, it’s a good idea to excuse yourself so that the family isn’t strained. But embrace your feelings and don't feel embarrassed by it.

Paying Your Respects At The Casket

At a wake or open-casket service, it's customary to show respect by viewing the deceased in a few silent moments. However, this is not mandatory, and you should only do so if you’re comfortable.

Behavior And Conversation

Once you’ve greeted and expressed sympathy to the family, it's completely fine to have quiet conversations with friends. It is respectful to turn off your cell phone. Stay as long as you feel comfortable, as your presence itself obviously meant enough for them to invite you in the first place.

Sign The Register Book

Make sure to add your name to the register book when you attend. Feel free to add brief details on how you knew the deceased, whether it was through school, work, or socially.

Sending Gifts

Whether it’s sending flowers or giving a memorial gift, the family will appreciate your giving gesture. A simple tribute can be comforting to the family and express your sympathy when words fail. 

Visit Woodward Cremation and Funeral Services, today, or get in touch with us at (386) 253-7601 to learn more about our cremation and burial services.

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