Funeral Etiquette: The Dos and Don’ts When Paying Your Last Respects.

Death is sometimes referred to as “the last taboo.” It is a subject that nobody wants to think about, let alone discuss. But whether we talk about it or not, the fact of the matter is – death is a part of life and funerals happen. The things we say and do, even the way we dress, can all play significantly big roles in the funeral process. 

That being said, you may find yourself wanting to know a little bit more about the do’s and don’ts of funeral etiquette. Well, look no further. You’ve come to the right article.

Appropriate discussion

First, let’s discuss how we should talk at a funeral. It can sometimes be difficult to know what to say to those who are grieving. Being nervous and getting tongue-tied is a normal part of it all. You may find yourself eager to offer words of comfort, but maybe are struggling to find the right things to say. Phrases like, “My condolences to you and your family” or “my thoughts are with you all” are all safe, thoughtful things to say. You could even share stories of a happy memory you had with that person who passed. Reliving a warm and happy moment can help lighten the heaviness. You definitely want to avoid saying things like “this person is in a better place” or “The pain will pass.” Things like this can sometimes seem or feel insensitive to those receiving the words and rather than being helpful, you will actually only worsen an already difficult situation. Another conversation you want to avoid is asking questions about how the person died or asking questions about the person’s former medical care. Topics like this are inappropriate and can certainly be taken in negative ways, rather than the intended positive. If you find yourself unsure of what to say, silence is often your best bet. Warm hugs and sympathetic smiles can also help when words fail.

Phones and pictures

The next topic is pictures and cell phones. Let’s face it, most of us are glued to our phones these days. They make our lives easier and more convenient. But at the end of the day, they simply do not have a place at a funeral. Please, just shut the darn thing off. Answering a call during a funeral is probably one of the most disrespectful things you can ever do. It’s absolutely horrible. Even taking pictures can be extremely offensive. You might be tempted to take pictures of extended family members or friends that show of the funeral. Perhaps you’ll be seeing people that you haven’t seen in ages and even though it may be a slightly happy occasion to reconnect, despite the circumstances, taking photos at a funeral is just really bad form. Please try to remember that a funeral is meant for grieving and letting go. It isn’t supposed to be a warm and fuzzy get together. Your best bet is to shut off your phone and keep it away.


Dress code

Now let’s talk about how we should dress. Figuring out what to wear to a funeral is actually pretty easy. Black is obviously the most traditional and appropriate color to wear at a funeral. However, other dark colors like eggplant, dark gray, and navy blue are also acceptable. Keep in mind though that a funeral is no place to try out some wild and wacky fashion trend. You are not here looking glamorous, and you are not here to make a statement. Keep it simple and tasteful. Do not show up in something like shorts and flip-flops. Go for subtle, tasteful, and respectable.


Lastly, knowing where to sit is a pretty big deal at any funeral. It is kind of an unspoken rule, but knowing where you should be is a pretty important deal. The first two rows should always be reserved for the deceased’s closest relatives and friends. The seats there are meant for the people whom the deceased loved the most. The rest of the seating is for everyone else. So, know your place and sit accordingly. If you accidentally arrive late to the funeral, you may want to consider quietly sitting towards the back as well, so that you do not disturb the service. 


As long as you follow these general etiquette rules, you should get through the funeral service alright. We know it’s a difficult thing to get through, but it’s going to be alright. Best of luck to you, and remembering all whose passing has affected our lives.



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