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Considerate Condolences: Your Complete Guide to Proper Funeral Etiquette

posted by Chris Valentine

Good etiquette is essential when dealing with loss. Here is everything you need to know about how to behave while attending a funeral.

If you’ve ever attended a funeral, you already know how important your presence is to the family and friends of the person who has passed.

When it comes to sending your condolences or speaking to people at the funeral, there are some proper etiquette tips you should follow to make sure you’re doing things the right way.

Read on for some funeral etiquette advice that will help you, and others, get through this difficult time without a hitch.

Come Dressed Appropriately

It should be obvious, but when you attend a funeral, make sure you’re dressed the right way. Avoid wearing ripped jeans and a t-shirt, and do your best to look respectable.

You don’t have to wear a full suit or a fancy dress for a funeral. Just use your good judgment and try to wear something neutral, preferably in a dark color.

A nice suit and tie or dress is best, but as long as you are dressed conservatively, you should be fine. Steer clear of excess jewelry or anything else that could be considered distracting.

Follow the Lead at a Funeral

Whether it’s a pastor, bishop, or a close family friend, there will likely be some kind of ceremony at the funeral. When asked to sit or stand, you should always do as asked, even if you’re not religious.

If there is a hymn or song and you don’t know the words, simply stand there quietly until it’s over. The same thing applies to the process after the funeral.

Always follow the instructions of the funeral director in terms of vehicles leaving to the gravesite or other directions you’re given. If you’re ever uncertain as to what to do, simply follow someone else’s lead. The best thing to remember is to be solemn and as quiet as possible.

Expressing Your Condolences 

In most cases, you should send a sympathy card or other gift to the family before or after the funeral. It’s not recommended to bring gifts or other items with you to the funeral itself.

If you’re wondering about sending funeral flowers, talk to a family representative who can help guide you. Overall, leave the gifts, cards, and other gestures for another day. Since gifts are typically a symbol of celebration, you should save those gestures and send them via mail or give them away later in person.

Talk to Your Children

If you’re planning on taking your children to the funeral, you should let them know about a few ground rules before the day arrives. Make sure they understand the solemness of funerals and how important it is to be on their best behavior.

For parents with young children, it’s best to sit in the back. That way, if your little one gets fussy, you can step out without interrupting the ceremony.

Proper Funeral Behavior is Easy

Once you know a few ground rules about attending a funeral, it should be easy to get through the event without worry. Dress appropriately and follow the lead of the funeral director, and it should be an event where the family appreciates your presence.

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