Etiquette Tips

Funeral and Cemetery Etiquette

We've put together a short guide to help you pay your respects with courtesy.



What should I do when a loved one has died?

In a hospital or nursing home setting, the desired funeral home is usually asked at the time of admission or the time of death. They will call the funeral home. If the death occurs in a home, the paramedics or a coroner are called by a family member or hospice care provider. They and or the family will then call the funeral home. The funeral home then transfers the remains from the place of death to the funeral home. An arrangement time to share and gather information will be set either by the funeral home at the time of the transfer, if the family is present, or during a phone call following the transfer of remains. The following items will need to be brought to the funeral home at the time of the arrangement conference: important documents (military discharge papers, birth and marriage certificates), clothing, cosmetics (if desired), perfume (if desired), a photograph for the funeral home and newspaper (if desired), and several more photographs (up to 80) if you would like the funeral home to create a video montage.

What Should I Wear?

Try to find out the dress code before you attend, so that you can be sure you’ll dress appropriately. If you aren't sure, simply try to dress in a conservative way that shows respect for the family and other mourners. For men, a suit and a conservative tie is usually a safe bet. Women should generally wear a conservative dress, skirt, or pants with a tasteful blouse.

What Should I 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.

How Should I Pay Respect?

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 on your own. Viewing the deceased is not mandatory, however, and you should do what is comfortable to you.

Do I Send Flowers & Gifts?

Sending flowers, making a donation, or giving a memorial gift are all meaningful gestures to let the bereaved know that they are in your thoughts.

Do I Sign the Register Book?

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.

Where Do I Find Cemetery 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.

Is Speaking Softly Important?

Be respectful to other mourners. Remember to keep your voice down when having conversations. Make sure your phone is muted or turned off.

Is It Okay to Bring 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.

Religion and Customs

Traditions and customs differ among various communities, ethnic groups, and religions, and it's often helpful to ask beforehand about any special considerations. We can answer many of your questions and can point you toward resources that offer more information.

Turn Off Your Phone

If you choose to bring your phone into the funeral home, take a moment to make sure you've turned it off, or, at the very least, on silent or vibrate.

Be Respectful of Services & 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.

Be Respectful of 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.

Don’t Leave Trash Behind

Use designated receptacles if they are provided, otherwise hang onto your trash and take it with you when you leave.

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