What Is Good Funeral Etiquette?

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

Funerals, especially unexpected ones, can be difficult to navigate for families (or relatives) of the bereaved and friends alike.

Here are some suggestions for those at a loss on how to approach a funeral:

1. Attire

The appropriate dress code might vary from funeral to funeral, but in general, something that does not intend to draw attention away from families of the bereaved would be a good starting point. A conservative outfit is the safest bet, keeping in mind that most funerals tend to be formal affairs.

For men, suits, shirts and ties that would usually be worn to a job interview come to mind. For women, a tailored jacket or one that fits well over party dresses would be enough to complete the formal look. Opt for dark colours rather than flashy bright colours. Alternatively, a mix of both genders’ formal attire (muted colour palette) would be the direction to head in.

On occasion when a funeral follows a specific theme, this will usually be communicated to those attending so you can dress accordingly.

2. Conduct

Since not all family members of the bereaved would personally know each and every guest that attends, offer a brief introduction (but not too long that others are kept waiting) as a form of courtesy upon arrival.

Avoiding the front row seats to make room for families, relatives and close friends of the bereaved, is also a thoughtful move. This would also make arrivals of latecomers less obvious, although arriving early or at least in time for the service is preferred.

Where possible, consider not bringing along infants and toddlers for the service or carry them out of the venue when disruptive so as to minimise noise disturbance for other guests.