Etiquette for Guests at a Funeral Service

Key Points

  • Turn your mobile phone off before entering the church or chapel.
  • Do not talk to a companion during the service.
  • Bow your head if you do not want to participate in hymns or prayers.
  • If young children are being noisy, take them discreetly outside
  • Maintain a sober and dignified air at the refreshments after the service.

Providing your support

Do I Need to be Invited to a Funeral to Attend the Service? If you are unsure, it is appropriate to phone a family member or friend and ask for guidance. If a funeral or memorial service is shown as ‘private’ in a newspaper notice, attendance is…

Sending Flowers to a Funeral

Flowers have played an important role in funeral customs since ancient times, because of their beauty and comforting qualities.  They are one of the most beautiful ways to express your thoughts and feelings when words fail, and to show your sympathy and support.…

Sympathy Cards

A sympathy card is appropriate, and can mean so much to family members to know of your care and concern, and that they are in your thoughts. The card can either be posted to the family, or can be taken to the funeral…

Condolence Messages

Most people have a fear that they are going to upset or offend the person who will receive their words of sympathy. It is best not to use phrases like ‘I know how you feel’, ‘Be strong’ or ‘They had a long life’.…

Sympathy Gifts

You may feel unsure of the appropriate way to express your sympathy.  You can show your care and concern in more than one way; sending a card, making a charitable contribution, sending a sympathy gift or offering practical help and assistance.  One of the…

What Should Guests Wear to a Funeral?

In western culture, many men still prefer to wear a suit and tie, and most women will wear fashionable clothing and a minimum of jewellery. It is acceptable to wear less formal attire, provided it is well kept and subdued.  If you unsure,…

What Should I Say to the Family?

There are no rules as to when you should speak to the family.  You should be guided by the family’s actions at the service. If family members are greeting guests as they arrive, then this would be the appropriate time to express your…

Where should I sit?

You should avoid the first few rows unless you are close family. The next of kin sits nearest the coffin, usually at the end of the pew. At the end of the service, the guests should wait for the family to leave the…

Children at a Funeral

The answers are important and vary according to the individual child and whether the child has been closely affected by the death. If the children are school-age, ask how they are feeling and answer their questions about what a funeral is and what…