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Of all the social gatherings there are, funerals are among the most difficult to maneuver. This is because funerals are designed to honor the recently deceased and to show support for their family. Given such a tricky task, one is under constant pressure to guard against offending the bereaved. Here are some things you should be aware of to make the event go more smoothly for all involved.

  • Dress properly: The wearing of black attire is often associated with funerals. However, the most important thing to remember when attending a funeral is to dress conservatively. Men should wear dress shoes, a tie, slacks and a nice shirt. Women should wear a skirt that is at least knee length (no mini-skirts) as well as flats or pumps.
  • Arrive on time: It is totally unacceptable to arrive late for a funeral. When planning to attend a service, carefully plan for events that may delay you such as traffic and parking. Arrive 10 minutes early and wait quietly for services to begin.
  • Turn off your cell phone: In today’s day and age it seems that we are all tethered to our cell phones and other mobile devices. Check to make sure that your phone is on either silent, vibrate mode or completely turned off before the funeral begins.
  • Send a gift or contribution: Although flowers are the most common things to send to a bereaved family, you can send other kinds of sympathy gifts as well such as a memorial tree gift.
  • Know where to sit: The first two rows of seats are typically reserved for the close family and friends of the deceased. All other guests should sit in the remaining rows. Follow similar seating rules at the actual gravesite.
  • Control unruly children: At most funerals it is okay to bring children as long as they are well behaved. If you fear your child will not be able to sit still during services or if you have a toddler, you may consider leaving him/her at home with a babysitter. etiquette
  • Send thank you notes: After the funeral be sure to thank the following people by sending a letter: The funeral officiant, eulogy readers, pallbearers, et al.

Hopefully these rules will help you avoid making mistakes at your next funeral. Above all, just remember to be respectful and polite to all in attendance.