Funeral Etiquette

What should I wear?

As a general guideline, wear your better clothes. Men should wear a suit or sports coat and a tie. Women should wear church or professional-like clothing. Exceptions include uniforms such as military, fire, police, rescue and girl or boy scout uniforms. Also religious clothing is acceptable such as robes, shawls, etc.

Am I required to look at the deceased?

No, the important thing is that you are at the wake to support the family and offer your comfort and sympathy. When you’re in the receiving line simply don’t look at the deceased. If you feel like you should kneel at the casket to say a prayer just bow your head and look down

Can I attend the funeral mass, but not go to the ceremony?
  • If the family request the cemetery service to be private.
  • If you are a friend of the family or co-worker ~ acquaintance.
  • If the Cemetery is Distant
  • If you are assisting in hosting the remembrance meal
Do I have to be invited to participate in the funeral procession to the cemetery?

The short answer is no. Families will specify if the cemetery service is to be private.

How long should I remain at the funeral home after giving my respects?

There is no correct answer to this question. Consider the following:

  • If the family asks you to stay for awhile.
  • If you feel that your presence is a comfort to the family, stay.
  • Consider the number of people at the wake.
  • Consider your relationship to the deceased.
If visiting hours are for two hours, is there a preferred time to arrive?

Family members should arrive 10 to 15 minutes before the scheduled wake starts, and stay during the entire wake. If you believe it will be crowded, arrive 5 minutes before the scheduled time or arrive during the last half hour of the wake. Do not come during the first half hour of the scheduled time.

Is it okay to bypass people in the receiving line and go directly to those you know?

Generally speaking the answer to this question is no; unless you have medical issues. Introduce yourself “Hello, I was one of Joe’s co-workers. I am sorry for your loss. I will miss his humor in the office”

Is it okay to discuss business with other visitors at the wake?

Yes, as long as the immediate family cannot overhear your conversation.

Is it okay to touch the deceased?

Yes, it is okay to touch the deceased. However, you may get cosmetics on you if you touch the skin. A shoulder or arm would be a better choice.

Should I bring condolence cards to the funeral home or mail to the family?

Your preference. It is very thoughtful to send a card with a short note of sympathy or a favorite memory of the deceased. E-Mail & Online Guest book.

Should I note my place of employment when signing the guest book?

Yes, if the deceased or a family member is a co-worker or know you through your employment.

Should I stay for the blessing or wake service?

If the a wake service is starting or about to start while you are at the wake, you should stay for the short service; otherwise no.

What is most important?

Your presence at a wake is more moving than anything you can say. Attending wakes and funerals is a selfless act. Remember, your primary goal is to comfort a family whose life is in total chaos.

Houses of Worship

Catholic Churches

Mormon Churches

Episcopal Churches

Protestant Churches

Greek Orthodox Churches

Armenian Churches

Jewish Temples

Monuments