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How to Follow Proper Funeral Etiquette

Funerals allow family and friends to mourn their loved ones, provide closure, and enable the living to move forward. Observing the etiquette of this important ritual will help you feel more comfortable while providing comfort to those in mourning.


  • Step 1: Attend the wake Attend the wake, also known as a visitation or calling, at the funeral home prior to the funeral. Approach the casket, which may be open or closed, and offer a prayer or quiet reflection. A short stay of 15 minutes is considered appropriate to express condolences to the family.
  • TIP: Make sure to dress appropriately for a viewing, funeral, or burial. A black suit or black dress will suffice.
  • Step 2: Send flowers Send flowers, if you wish, to the funeral home or the family residence. Charitable donations in the name of the deceased may be indicated in lieu of flowers, in which case you may send an edible arrangement to the family in addition to the donation.
  • Step 3: Attend the service Attend the funeral or memorial service. The family will appreciate the show of support.
  • TIP: Offer condolences to the family prior to mingling with other friends or family.
  • Step 4: Say a few words Say a few words of condolence either before the service or when everyone is gathered after. A simple 'I'm sorry for your loss' is enough to offer comfort to relatives.
  • TIP: Avoid cliches such as: "Everything happens for a reason," and "I know how you feel." If you can't think of anything more to say, offer a hug.
  • Step 5: Share remembrances Share fond remembrances, anecdotes, and stories about the deceased with loved ones. Recounting what the deceased meant to you is always appreciated.
  • Step 6: Attend the burial Attend the burial, which usually follows the funeral. If you were close to the deceased, you may follow the lead of the family if they choose to deposit a ceremonial shovel of earth or drop a rose or rose petals into the grave.
  • Step 7: Share a meal Share a meal with the family and friends of the deceased after the burial, if one is planned. This tradition allows close friends and family to share fond memories, enjoy each other's company, and symbolizes the continuation of life.
  • FACT: In the Buddhist religion, death is prepared for through meditation and is viewed as a rebirth.

You Will Need

  • Flowers or a charitable donation and edible arrangement
  • Words of condolence
  • Fond remembrances
  • Proper attire
  • Appropriate clothing (optional)
  • Hug (optional)

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