Funeral Etiquette Guide


The subject today is about Funeral Etiquette. Sooner or later, we’re all confident with death and  I want to help you navigate this tragic event with dignity and respect.

First of all, when you learn about the death of a loved one or an acquaintance, it’s important  to reach out to the intermediate family and express your condolences.

The best way to do this is through a letter of condolence. No, this is not a Facebook message that says “I’m thinking of you”, “Love you” or a comment on a website, this is a handwritten letter  that is dropped in a mailbox.


The core point of this is that you have a sincere, honest message that lets them know that you think about them and that you’re sorry for them. 

The format of the letter doesn’t matter but it has to be a sincere message that swiftly  expresses that you’re sorry and that you feel with them. If you don’t know the person or  if you simply don’t know what to say, you can say something on the lines of “I was deeply sorry to learn about the death of your Uncle John, please accept my heartfelt sympathy  and you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

Historically, people also sent flowers because it helps to mask the odor of death and the not so perfect embalming process. Today, people send flowers because it’s a sign of respect, sometimes though,  people find it’s a waste of money if they have too many flowers and in that case, what’s always appropriate is to have a donation for the deceased favorite charity.

Sometimes, they have little cards at the visitation or at the funeral service where you can donate the money. It’s really important to never send flowers if the deceased is Jewish and if you want to learn more about Jewish traditions,

Buddhist traditions, Orthodox traditions orMuslim traditions, please check out our in depth guide about funeral etiquette on our website. 

The next step is the funeral or memorial service, it’s always a funeral service if there’s a  body and a coffin. If that’s not present, it’s called memorial service.

This can also be the case if the body was cremated, we talk about memorial service, not a funeral service. 

The traditional funeral service is slowly but surely becoming extinct and it’s often  substituted with a celebration of the person’s life and it always depends on what the deceased  would have wanted or what he wished for. This event is not about you, so make sure you fit in and you adapt to what’s asked of you.

A death notice in a newspaper or online will  tell you what’s expected of you. Sometimes, there is food served and even liquor. Now,  this is not the time to get drunk or misbehave. Attend the service, converse, talk to the  family and leave.

At the service, you want to be respectful at all times which means your cellphone and smartphone should be turned off and you should be talking to anyone, you  should listen and participate. It’s a tradition at a funeral to have a eulogy which is a heartfelt tribute to the deceased. If you’re asked to give a eulogy, you should think about how  to talk about the person in a complimentary and dignified way.

This is not the time to talk about the of Uncle John or how much beer he drank or what women he dated. This is about showing your last respect to a person, maybe shared memories or things that made him a  great person. Now one of the components of respect especially at a funeral is dress code.Never wear jeans or a golf shirt, like slacks, shorts or anything of that kind for a funeral.  It’s simply disrespectful towards the deceased.

The proper attire to wear for a man is a dark suit which can either be a charcoal, navy, black, a stroller would work too if it’s a daytime funeral. It is best combined with a white double cuffed shirt, a simple black or dark tie, no patterns and if you want, you can have a white linen pocket square. 

For shoes, you can wear black dress shoes, ideally with leather soles, it can be Oxfords,  Derbies, it can be Brogues, Cap toes, it doesn’t matter as long as they’re black dress shoes Of course, nobody wants to see your hairy calves, so make sure to wear dark over the calf socks.

If the death occurred in your family, it is important to acknowledge the  heartfelt sympathies in the cards you got. You want to tell people that you are thankful that they thought of you and again, it is best to express with a thank you card.

This  is a task that can be divided up among different members of the family so you don’t have to do all of them. If you don’t know what to say, it can be as simple as “Thank you for your support, I gained strength and encouragement from all of you!” If people donated, you can write something like “On behalf of the family of Uncle John, thank you very much for your donation to St. Elvis church.”

A funeral is a very sad event and it is important to support the family, that you are subdued, you understand it’s not about you but about the family and  the ones who are left behind and so you have to do your best to support them and to show  your respect and dignity. Thank you.