I hope you find reading this article useful
Download your free PDF for low-cost funerals and How to Save on Funeral Costs
Please feel free to leave a comment
Thank you, SW Barratt

I hope you find reading this article useful

Thank you, SW Barratt

Couple looking at coffin

How to use Good Funeral Etiquette

Published: November 17, 2023

Losing a cherished individual is undoubtedly a difficult time, and attending a funeral is a way to show support and compassion for the mourning family. In such moments, grasping funeral etiquette fundamentals can make a meaningful impact.

Funeral etiquette covers many aspects, from the right words to offer to the grieving family to choosing the appropriate attire and displaying respectful behaviour during the service. It involves understanding the delicate art of offering condolences, dressing sensibly, and engaging in the traditions and practices linked with funerals. Moreover, it offers insights into post-funeral interactions, including sending sympathy cards and attending a wake.

What to say

Knowing what to say at a funeral is essential to navigate funeral etiquette respectfully. Here are some thoughtful phrases and guidelines to help you convey your sympathy and support.

  1. Express your condolences: Begin with a simple but heartfelt expression of sympathy, such as “I’m so sorry for your loss.” These words convey your genuine sorrow for their pain.
  2. Share loving memories: Share a personal memory of the deceased if you knew them well. It could be a special moment or a characteristic you admired about the deceased. This demonstrates your connection and appreciation.
  3. Heartfelt support: The step ensures the bereaved feel your presence during this challenging time. Utterances such as “I’m here if you need a hand” can offer solace.
  4. Avoid clichés: Avoid clichés like “They’re in a better place” or “It was their time.” While well-intentioned, these phrases may not provide the comfort you intend and can sometimes be insincere.
  5. Listen actively: Sometimes, the best thing to say is nothing. Offer a listening ear and allow the grieving person to discuss their feelings.
  6. Keep it simple: Simplicity is often best. A simple “My thoughts are with you” or “Sending you love” can be powerful and sincere.
  7. Respect cultural and religious beliefs: Be mindful of the deceased’s cultural and religious background. Use appropriate phrases and customs to show respect.
  8. Avoid unsolicited advice: Refrain from offering unsolicited advice or trying to find a silver lining. The experience of grief is unique for each individual, with diverse paths to healing.
  9. Use the deceased’s name: Mention the deceased by name. It personalises your condolences and shows that you remember and respect them.
  10. Follow-up: Don’t forget that good funeral etiquette can mean to follow up in the days or weeks after the funeral. Grief doesn’t end with the service and your ongoing support matters.

Good funeral etiquette – What to wear

Woman in suit
Man in suit

Selecting the right attire for a funeral is a way to honour the departed and show good funeral etiquette for their bereaved loved ones. Below is a helpful guide on dressing appropriately:

1. Traditional funeral attire

Black or dark colours: Traditional funeral attire often includes black clothing, but dark grey and navy are also suitable. These colours symbolise mourning and respect.

Conservative clothing: Wear modest, conservative clothing. Avoid flashy patterns, bright colours, or revealing outfits. Men should opt for suits or dress shirts and ties, while women can choose dresses, skirts, or pantsuits.

2. Consider the deceased’s wishes

If the deceased had specific requests for attire in their funeral plan, honour their wishes. Some individuals may request that attendees wear a particular colour or avoid wearing all black.

3. Cultural and religious considerations

Some cultures and religions have specific dress codes for funerals. For example, wearing a yarmulke (skullcap) may be required in Jewish funerals. Research the customs of the particular culture or faith if you’re unsure.

4. Dress comfortably and respectfully

Funerals can be emotionally taxing, and you may need to stand or sit for extended periods. Choose clothing that is not only respectful but also comfortable. Well-fitting, respectful attire that allows you to move quickly is ideal.

5. Avoid casual or inappropriate clothing

Casual attire such as jeans, shorts, or T-shirts is inappropriate for a funeral. Opt for attire that exudes positivity and respect, avoiding offensive slogans or graphics.

6. Footwear

Select formal, closed-toe shoes that are clean and polished. Avoid wearing sneakers or sandals unless appropriate for the specific cultural or religious customs.

7. Accessories

Keep accessories minimal. Simple jewellery and subdued makeup are suitable. Hats should be conservative and respectful.

8. Outerwear

Depending on the weather, you may need outerwear. Opt for dark, sombre coats or jackets. Avoid wearing bright, flashy outerwear.

9. Children’s attire

Dress children attending the funeral like adults. Dark or subdued colours are appropriate. Help them recognise the significance of maintaining considerate conduct.

10. Be mindful of the season

Adjust your clothing choices based on the season. Lightweight fabrics are suitable for summer, while heavier materials are more appropriate for winter.

For more advice the blog post What to Wear at a funeral has more details.

For additional ideas on what to wear for women visit What to wear to a Funeral.

What to do

Attending a funeral might be emotionally taxing, but practising proper funeral etiquette can comfort and offer solace to the mourning family. Below are some essential tips to consider when attending a funeral:

1. Arrive on time

Punctuality is crucial. Arrive at the funeral service or viewing on time to show respect for the deceased and their family.

2. Dress appropriately

As mentioned earlier, wear respectful and sombre attire. Your clothing choice is a way to pay tribute to the deceased and show empathy to the family.

3. Offer condolences

Extend your condolences to the grieving family. A simple “I’m so sorry for your loss,” or a hug can provide comfort. If you knew the deceased well, consider sharing a heartfelt memory.

4. Be respectful and quiet

Respect the solemn atmosphere of the service by staying composed and attentive. Mute your phone or switch it off to ensure uninterrupted solemnity.

5. Follow the service

Participate in the service as appropriate for your beliefs. Stand, sit, or kneel (if possible) as indicated, and follow along with hymns or prayers, even if they are unfamiliar.

6. Be supportive

Offer support and a listening ear to those who are grieving. Sometimes, your presence and a comforting gesture can be more helpful than words.

7. Keep children in check

If you have children with you, ensure they are well-behaved and understand the event’s significance. Consider providing tranquil pastimes to engage and occupy their thoughts.

8. Follow religious or cultural customs

If the service includes specific customs or rituals, observe them respectfully, even if they differ from your beliefs.

9. Respect the family’s wishes

If the family has requested privacy or limited attendees, honour their wishes. Some families may prefer a smaller, more intimate gathering.

10. Offer assistance

After the service, offer assistance to the family if needed. This could include helping with logistics or providing meals and support in the days following the funeral.

11. Attend the wake (If applicable)

If there’s a post-funeral gathering or wake, attend if you can. It’s an opportunity to offer more personal condolences and support.

12. Send a sympathy card

After the funeral, consider sending a sympathy card to the family, expressing your condolences and offering support.

13. Stay in touch

Stay in touch with the grieving family in the weeks and months following the funeral. Grief doesn’t end with the service; your ongoing support can be invaluable.

14. Remember the anniversary

On the death anniversary, reach out to the family with a thoughtful message or a gesture of remembrance.

Offer help

One of the most meaningful ways to show compassion, respect and good funeral etiquette during a funeral is by assisting the grieving family. Here are some valuable insights on how to provide help and support effectively:

1. Be specific in your offers

Provide concrete assistance by offering specific help rather than general offers like “Let me know if you need anything.” Specific offers are more helpful and accessible for the grieving family to accept. For instance, you could say, “I’m available to pick up groceries for you this week if that would be helpful.” This shows your willingness to take a burden off their shoulders.

2. Bring food

Preparing meals can be one of the last things on the family’s mind during grief. Bringing a home-cooked meal or ordering takeout can provide both sustenance and comfort. Don’t forget to ask about their specific dietary needs or food preferences.

3. Help with logistics

Funeral arrangements, paperwork, and other logistical tasks can be overwhelming. Offer to help with these responsibilities. It could be filling out paperwork, making phone calls, or coordinating transportation for out-of-town guests.

4. Emotional support

Sometimes, the best support is simply being there to listen. Grieving individuals often need to talk about their feelings and memories. Extend your support by lending a sympathetic ear or a comforting shoulder. Your caring presence has the power to create a meaningful impact.

5. Assist with childcare

If the grieving family has young children, offer to help with childcare. This can allow the parents some much-needed time for themselves or attend funeral arrangements.

6. Run errands

Simple tasks like grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions, or running errands can be challenging for those in mourning. Offer to take care of these daily chores to make their lives easier.

7. Attend to practical needs

Think about the practical needs of the family. This could include walking the dog, mowing the lawn, or looking after their home if they are away for the funeral.

8. Respect their privacy

While offering help is essential, respect the family’s need for privacy and space. Grief is a highly personal experience, and some may prefer solitude.

9. Follow up

Don’t assume that your support ends with the funeral. Grief is a long process. Continue to follow up and offer assistance in the following days and weeks. Small acts of kindness and ongoing emotional support can be significant.

10. Be sensitive

Always be sensitive to the family’s wishes. If they decline your offer or seem overwhelmed, respect their decision. Grief affects people differently, and they may need time to accept help.

Send a sympathy card or flowers

Flower wreath

Navigating through the process of expressing condolences during a funeral, one of the most traditional and genuine ways is to send a heartfelt sympathy card or flowers to the grieving family. These gestures offer comfort and solace during a challenging time, reminding the bereaved of the caring support from their loved ones. Check how to approach this heartfelt process:

Sympathy card – A personal message of comfort

Look beyond the stationery aspect; a sympathy card is a canvas for expressing heartfelt condolences. Choose a card that conveys a sincere message reflecting your deep sorrow for their loss. A simple, tasteful design is often the best choice. Consider including a personal note that shares a memory of the deceased inside the card or offers words of comfort. Mentioning a fond memory can be especially meaningful, as it celebrates the departed’s life and brings a personal touch to your message.

Sending flowers – A symbol of beauty and life

Flowers have long symbolised beauty and life, even in sorrow. They embody the exquisite and ephemeral essence of life. When considering sending flowers, being mindful of the family’s preferences is essential. Before proceeding, check the funeral announcement or ask a family member if they have any specific flower requests or preferences. Some families may have cultural or religious customs that dictate the appropriate type or colour of flowers. By respecting their wishes, you ensure your gesture aligns with their values and beliefs.

Generally, sending a sympathy card or flowers with a funeral flower card is a compassionate way to express your condolences and support those grieving. These gestures offer a source of comfort and reassurance during a challenging time. While they may seem like small acts, they carry significant meaning and demonstrate your empathy and care for the bereaved family.

Respect the family’s privacy

During times of grief, respecting the family’s privacy is of paramount importance. Grieving is an intensely personal journey, and each individual copes in their own way. Here’s why it’s crucial to uphold their privacy:

Social media sensitivity

In this modern era, it’s crucial to be considerate of your social media engagements. Avoid sharing details about the funeral or the departed without the explicit permission of the family. Sharing such information without their approval can be invasive and may inadvertently cause the family additional distress.

Privacy boundaries

Recognise that the family may need space to process their emotions and memories. Intruding on their privacy can hinder their ability to grieve in their own time and way. Offering your support while maintaining a respectful distance is a delicate balance that showcases your consideration of their needs.

Follow-up after the funeral

In the days and weeks that follow a funeral, the grieving family confronts the challenging adjustment to life without their beloved. In this period, a small act of kindness can bring immense solace. Extend your care through a phone call, a sincere text, or a visit to convey that you hold them in your thoughts and are ready to provide ongoing support. Your presence and ongoing support can provide immense comfort during this challenging period.


Familiarising yourself with and following these funeral etiquette principles enables you to approach the event with elegance and empathy, offering comfort and assistance to those grieving the departure of a cherished individual. Remember that your presence, kind words, and genuine concern can make a meaningful difference in helping the bereaved navigate their loss. Funerals are a time for unity, respect, and healing, and your participation in this solemn event is a meaningful expression of empathy and compassion.

If you would like to learn more about locating low-cost funerals, low-cost headstones, natural burials, DIY funerals, free financial help from the Government and charities as well as bereavement support, then please visit Save Funeral Costs™

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
SW Barratt
Founder: SW Barratt

Receive your free weekly blog post

Sign-up here

Discover the best funeral cost-savings and useful ideas

Don’t lose out on your PDF download for free financial help