Funeral Etiquette

As a society, we typically avoid thinking and talking about death. However, at some point in our lives, most of us will experience the death of a loved one. While this is always a difficult and emotional time, some practical considerations need to be thought of. There are many traditions and customs surrounding funerals, and it can be helpful to know what is expected of you. While there is no one right way to mourn or commemorate a life, understanding funeral etiquette can help you feel more comfortable during this difficult time. 

 Funeral etiquette is a set of traditions that have been passed down through time. The accepted customs vary by culture and region, but courtesy never goes out of style! Here is what you need to know in attending a funeral: 

  • The color green symbolizes hope. It is used when someone dies after a long illness to be buried with their family belongings and flowers left by friends instead of the white sheets typical at American funerals, which stands for purity and innocence because nothing should come before faithfulness. There is no specific shade associated specifically with meaning “life” in many Muslim countries. Instead, everything between light yellow and dark green is used.
  • Funeral attire usually consists of a white shroud or shirt and pants for men and a long white dress with a shawl or scarf for women, though in some cases, black clothing is worn out of respect. It is considered rude to bring cameras to funerals as they are seen as disruptive and disrespectful to the mourners.
  • Funerals usually occur as soon as possible after death occurs, sometimes within hours, and last from a few minutes to a few hours. There is often loud wailing and crying by family members and close friends of the deceased; visitors are expected to show their respects by sitting quietly during the proceedings.
  • After the funeral, there is a funeral procession in which the casket is carried to the burial site. Friends and family members often follow behind the coffin, and visitors are also expected to do so. If you cannot attend the funeral, it is customary to send flowers or other tokens of condolences to the family.
  • Funeral etiquette dictates that you should never speak ill of the deceased, even if they were not a very lovely person in life. Funerals are a time for remembrance and reflection, not judgment.
  • It is also considered polite to avoid discussing sensitive subjects like money or business deals during funerals. These topics can be upsetting and disrespectful to the mourners. Funeral etiquette is important because it helps ensure that everyone attending a funeral has a respectful and positive experience. By following a few simple guidelines, you can avoid any inadvertent offenses and make the day more comfortable for everyone involved.
  • Punctuality is important, especially if the funeral is held at a religious institution. Call the funeral home or the person organizing the funeral to let them know if you are running late. But try to avoid being more than 15 minutes late, if possible.
  • Out of respect for the deceased and their family, turning off your phone or putting it on silent mode before entering the funeral home or church is important. Funerals are a time for reflection and mourning, not checking Facebook or texting your friends.
  • Avoid bringing children. Unless the funeral is specifically geared towards children, it is best to leave them home. Funerals can be a difficult experience for kids, and they may not understand what is going on.
  • Taking photos or videos at a funeral is generally considered poor taste. It is a time for grieving, not for taking pictures. If you must take photos, be respectful and discreet about it.
  • An expression of sympathy is appropriate. It is important to offer your condolences to the bereaved when someone dies. This can be done in many ways, such as sending a card, flowers, or food. You can also express your sympathy by visiting the family or attending the funeral.
  • Be respectful of the grieving process. It is important to remember that grieving people are going through a difficult time. It may take some time for them to return to their old selves. Be patient and let them grieve in their way. Avoid pushing them to talk about their feelings or make decisions too soon.
  • Avoid talking about yourself. Funerals are not the time to talk about your problems or issues. Save those discussions for later, when the family is in a better place.
  • Respect the deceased. It is important to remember that the person who has died was once alive and had their own life. Respect their memory by not negatively talking about them or making jokes about them. Funerals are a time for mourning, not laughter.
  • Be prepared for tears. Funerals can be an emotional experience, especially if you are close to the deceased or the family. Be prepared for tears and be respectful of those who are crying. Do not laugh or make fun of someone emotionally. Funerals are a time for sadness, not mockery.

Funerals provide an important opportunity for family and friends to support one another. They also offer a time for reflection and healing. It’s important to remember that funeral etiquette should be followed to show respect for the deceased and their loved ones. If you’re not sure what these rules are, or if you need help planning a funeral, please don’t hesitate to call us at (616) 392-2306. We would be happy to assist you.