Resources | Funeral Etiquette

Funeral Etiquete

Seems stuffy.
It really isn’t.
It’s more about what to do and say.
Or maybe not to.
That’s all etiquette truly is.
Someone you care about has lost someone they care about.


What do you do?

There’s a lot to be said for your presence. If there’s a visitation or a gathering or a reception, and you can be there, be there.


It’s not easy to be there. It might be uncomfortable. That’s why you’re a friend; to show them that you’re friend enough to overcome the difficult and the uncomfortable to support them.

What do you say?

You might not know what to say. It’s surprising how little it takes.


“I’m so sorry this as happened.”


“I can’t imagine how you feel.”


“I want you to know that I care for you and your family.”


“I didn’t know your mother but I know you. I’m glad I do. I care for you and I want you to know it.”


A happy experience or a kindness remembered can bring a sparkle to the eye.


Sometimes, silence. A touch of the hand, a nod of the head, a look in the eye.

What do you not say?

There are a lot of well-meaning phrases that don’t have the result you might expect.


“It comes to all of us.”
True? Certainly.
Helpful? Maybe not so much.


While it’s certainly true and we all realize it, few of us are ready for it. Most of us wish it hadn’t happened right now.


“I know how you feel.”


In reality, you can’t. Not exactly. You may know how you felt in a similar situation but this is their situation and their feelings and sometimes they can’t imagine how anyone can know how they feel.

Memorial Remembrances

You’ve heard it. Maybe you’ve said it.


Flowers are a waste.


Are they?


There’s a reason flowers have traditionally been a means by which to express sympathy.


They are beautiful.


They can be an expressive way to acknowledge your appreciation for the one who has died and your care for those who remain.


Because they are natural, they don’t remain forever. They serve their purpose and then they fade; no longer a reminder of a sad event. Not a constant presence.




You may wish to send a painting, a quilt, a bench, a stepping stone, wind chimes, a statue. They can be wonderful remembrances.


Just give them some thought.


Do you and the one about whom you care share the same taste? Will they feel glad to display it in their home or will they feel obliged?


Will a permanent gift be a permanent reminder? Is that a good thing or potentially a difficult thing?


It all depends on your friend.


Every situation is different. Every family is different. Every individual is different.


You’ll know what to do.

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