Understanding Funeral Etiquette

Rest In Peace - simply wooden coffin at church

When you attend a funeral, it’s natural to have some questions about the proper etiquette. After all, you want to be supportive of the bereaved, and the last thing you want to do is make a mistake that distracts from the service. Etiquette for a funeral is not difficult to adhere to. It is all about respect and paying tribute to a lost friend or family member. If you have questions about what to expect at a service, it is fine to contact the funeral home for advice. These tips will also help you prepare.


Black or dark-colored clothing is traditional funeral attire in the United States. Dresses, slacks, and suits are usually appropriate, particularly if you are taking part in the ceremony in some way. Clothing and makeup should be conservative. However, sometimes families have preferences about the attire for a funeral service . These requests will usually be communicated to guests by the funeral home. Keep in mind that cultural customs also play a role in the proper funeral attire. If you have any doubt about what you should wear, ask the funeral home for advice.  


Flowers are a traditional symbol of condolences. Flowers may be sent to the funeral home, a church where the funeral is being held, or to the family home. Include a sympathy note with your name. There are some exceptions, however. Flowers are inappropriate for an Orthodox Jewish service. You should also check the obituary before you send flowers. Some families prefer that donations to a particularly charity be made in lieu of flowers.


At funerals, seating is usually arranged according to the relationship with the deceased person. Immediate family members sit up front with extended family sitting behind them. If you had a close relationship with the deceased, you should sit closer to the front. If you were an acquaintance, you should sit near the back.

Do you have questions about proper funeral etiquette? Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland can help. Our funeral home is also dedicated to assisting people in planning funeral and cremation services that are a true tribute to a lost loved one. To learn more about our funeral home services, please call (510) 654-0123.