What Is Proper Funeral Etiquette?


Quick Answer

Proper funeral etiquette is to be sober, sincere and polite to the bereaved. This includes dressing in semi-formal clothing in neutral colors, leaving electronics in a different location, not monopolizing the time of the bereaved and not placing too many mental or emotional demands on the bereaved.

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Full Answer

Most funerals have a viewing of the body, a eulogy, a burial and a wake all conducted in one day. The viewing and the wake are the most likely elements to be eliminated depending on the wishes of the bereaved, and the burial may sometimes be moved to a different day so that only closest loved ones may attend.

Assuming that all elements occur, attendees should briefly greet the bereaved and view the body. Greeting the bereaved should be about offering sympathy to them and not discussing the attendee's life and situation. Short stories connecting the attendee to the deceased, especially if the attendee is a stranger to the bereaved, are appropriate.

Attendees should move to the eulogy location after the viewing. It is not necessary to remain in the viewing location for longer than 15 minutes and the attendees should endeavor to arrive at the eulogy location early. Anyone late for the eulogy should enter quietly and find a seat near the rear.

Once the eulogy has been said, attendees should move to the burial location and from there to the wake. The wake is the place to socialize with the bereaved and other attendees. Attendees who know the bereaved and offer assistance with making food and hosting other attendees are often needed and well-appreciated. Other attendees may bring money, cards, flowers or other food for the bereaved as appropriate. They can also offer specific help if they have a desire to assist the bereaved moving forward. All other talk should be sincere and pertain to the deceased or the bereaved.

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