Skip to Main Content
Funeral etiquette

Funeral Etiquette


Funeral Stress

Funerals can cause quite a bit of stress among even the most experienced people. Some folks have no idea what they're supposed to say or do during this solemn and often depressing event, while others dread them because they worry they'll say or do the wrong thing. If you aren't sure what you should or shouldn't say at a funeral, remember that you're not alone. It is never a comfortable experience, so be intentional with your words and actions. Offer your sympathy to the family of the deceased in a concise manner and move on to give someone else the opportunity to visit with them.

All About Wakes and Visitations Before a Funeral

Remember that you're not the only person who feels uncomfortable, and no one will judge you on how you act or what you say unless you do something ridiculous to call attention to yourself. If you're not sure that what you want to say is appropriate, don't say it. This is the time to employ your strongest speech filters. Your main purpose in being there is to offer support to the family and close friends of the deceased.


Because the nature of funerals and memorial services varies so widely today, attire isn’t limited to just black or dark gray. The exception maybe when you’re a pallbearer or honorary pallbearer, in which case a dark suit is a usual attire unless the family requests something else. Remember, though, that it is a serious occasion and your attire should reflect that, especially if you are participating in the service. At the very least it should be clean, neat, and pressed as for any other important occasion.

Flowers or Donations

It is appropriate to send flowers for the funeral, live plants that the family members can bring home later, or donations to the favorite charity of the deceased. The most important thing is to honor the wishes of the family. It's best not to bring flowers, plants, or donations with you to the funeral. Send them in advance. After all, the family doesn't need another thing to handle on such an emotional day.

Members of the Immediate Family
Husbands, wives, children, sisters, brothers, parents, and grandparents may order any type of floral arrangement they like. However, there are certain types that are reserved for immediate family members. Keep in mind that flowers from family are typically placed closest to the casket during the viewing or wake. In some cases, they may be inside the casket with the deceased. A casket spray or wreath is generally from the immediate family. Other arrangements from the spouse, children, or parents may include table arrangements, swags inside the casket lid, and heart-shaped arrangements.

Extended Family Members

Other members of the family such as aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, and even close friends also have a wide range of options. The traditional standing spray is often chosen for the most impact. Informal arrangements are good options because they can go home with the immediate family or be taken to the cemetery.

Close Friends and Business Associates

Close friends and business associates of the family of the deceased may want to send flowers to show that they are thinking of them during their time of grief. Some of the best options for friends include standing sprays, wreaths, basket arrangements, bouquets in vases, and live plants that can go home with the family after the funeral. Friends have the option of sending the flowers directly to the funeral home or to the home of the family member. It is also appropriate for business associates to have the flowers delivered to the office of the family member. When ordering flowers to be sent to someone’s home or office, you may want to choose a vase or basket that can be used later. Typically wreaths, standing sprays, and flowers in disposable containers are designed for funeral home display.


Funeral Etiquette