Funeral Etiquette Guide: Tips for Attending a Funeral

Funerals are a difficult time for close friends and family members, and the last thing you want to do is cause any further upset by not following proper funeral etiquette. Funeral etiquette doesn’t exist to make things feel formal and scary, more so to allow guests to properly show their respect to the family. Some funerals will be more traditional and follow a stricter etiquette, whereas others may be quite informal.

Here are some tips to ensure you are respectful at a funeral.

Bring children, but make sure they are prepared

It’s okay to bring children to a funeral, but make sure they understand what a funeral is and how to act. It may be hard to talk to your kids about death and what it means to lose someone, so if they aren’t ready for that, it may be best to wait a little longer for them to attend funerals with you. If they are ready to understand what is happening, it’s good to ask them if they would like to come and make it their decision.

If you are bringing younger children or babies, try to sit near the back or on the end of the aisle in case you need to take them out during the service.

Try to wear black unless otherwise stated

Dress codes for funerals will vary based on the person, but most tend to stick to black or dark colours. Some funerals may have different dress codes but the family will clearly state this so you will know what to wear. Some families like to have everyone wear bright colours in order to celebrate the person’s life. If the dress code is black, dark colours such as navy blue and brown will also be okay to wear.

It’s hard to know what to say, but keep things simple

You may feel like you don’t know what to say to the family at the funeral, but the fact you are there is comforting enough. If you’re not sure what to say, don’t try to overcomplicate things, keep it simple with phrases such as ‘I’m so sorry for your loss’, ‘I’m here if you need anything’ and ‘you and your family are in my thoughts’. Avoid any jokes or inappropriate stories about the person that has died and don’t take away from their suffering with phrases such as ‘grief is something we all have to go through’.

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