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Funeral Etiquette

When someone you know passes away, your first instinct is to offer encouragement, help, and support to those affected — but you may not be sure what to say or do. It's okay to feel this way.

Does it matter what I wear? Can I bring the children? What should I say to the family of the deceased? When should I visit? Bagnell & Son Funeral Home offers guidance on the proper etiquette of visitations and funerals, so you'll feel more comfortable and prepared for attending services.


It can be difficult to know what to say to the family of the deceased to express your sympathy. To begin, offer your condolences to the family. If you are comfortable, share a memory of the deceased. In this difficult time, sharing the joy of the deceased’s life can help comfort the bereaved. For example, “I was so sorry to hear of Mary’s passing.  She was always such a wonderful friend to me."


When attending a memorial service or funeral, dress in dark and subdued colors, such as dark blues, grays, browns, and black. Be sure to dress simply and conservatively. Men are encouraged to wear a jacket and tie paired with dress shoes, while women should choose either a dress or a suit. Any jewelry should be subtle and traditional. 


When attending a funeral or a service, do your best to be on time. Try to enter the facility as quietly as possible. If there are no ushers present, remember that the first few rows of seats are usually for the immediate family and close friends. Acquaintances should appropriately seat themselves in the middle or towards the rear.


Immediately upon learning of a death, it is appropriate for family and close friends to go to the home of the bereaved to offer sympathy and support. This can be a very overwhelming time for a family. Offering to assist with child care, food preparation, receiving visitors, or service preparations can provide immense comfort during this difficult process.

The funeral home is the best place to visit the family to offer your condolences, as they are prepared for visitors at these services.


Sending flowers is a wonderful way to express your sympathy to the family of the deceased, and can bring comfort in a difficult time. Flowers are a meaningful gift that can be enjoyed during and after the funeral service.

Floral arrangements and plants can be sent to the funeral home to be present at services, or sent to the home of the family directly.


Try not to give comments that minimize the loss, such as "It's probably for the best, because he was suffering too much," or "I've been in your shoes myself."  These will not provide comfort to the bereaved

Wait for the family to discuss the cause of death. Do not bring it up yourself.


Visitations can be very emotional, especially when speaking with the family of the deceased. If there is a line to speak with the bereaved and view the casket, be conscious of keeping the line moving. After passing through the line, be sure to stand to the side to continue conversation, or allow the family member to continue to greet guests. The family will often be more available to speak following the conclusion of the service.


Smart phones should be turned off or silenced completely during the service. Checking your phone is noticeable and is a distraction to those who are trying to pay their respects. If you must return a message or receive a call, exit the service quietly.


Allowing a child to attend a memorial or funeral service can help them say goodbye to a friend or loved one. It is important to not force a child to go, but instead encourage them to share in this tribute with the rest of the family. Before attending, help prepare them by explaining what they might see at the service.


This can be a very draining time for a family. The gift of food is a kind gesture that the family will deeply appreciate and help alleviate the stress of funeral planning and mourning.

Remembering children in the family is a thoughtful gesture, as this is often a difficult time for them as well. A small gift like a stuffed animal or a book is best.

Time is precious. Helping with household tasks ease the family's burden. Caring for pets, driving children to school, running errands, or helping around the house are wonderful ways to help the family.

A funeral is a time to honor and celebrate the life of someone who has passed. It can be an emotional experience for everyone involved because you are coming together to remember this person's life while they are no longer here with you. There are many things that go into planning a funeral, but there is one thing that people should consider bringing along. Keep reading to know what you bring at a funeral.

What Do You Bring at a Funeral?

If you're wondering if you should bring a gift to a funeral ceremony, the typical response is yes. While it is not normally necessary to bring a present to the service, it is considered courteous not to arrive empty-handed. This is especially true if you have a close relationship with the family. Here are some of the most frequent and suitable presents to bring to a funeral, memorial ceremony, or viewing. Here are some great examples of what to bring at a funeral.

  1. Flowers - Condolence bouquets and funeral flowers provide peace and solace during a difficult time. Flowers are a melancholy way to remember individuals who have passed away. Although funerals are a time for many people to lament and mourn the death of a loved one, they can also be a moment for many others to celebrate the life of the dearly departed.
  2. Sympathy Card - When someone dies, you might wish to send a condolence card message to their family. This will demonstrate that you care and that the person who has died is on your mind. Even if you keep your funeral messages brief, it will come across as a warm and meaningful gesture.
  3. Food - Food is a real funeral custom. Bring your signature dish to the reception, as well as some disposable containers for the family to take leftovers home. Consider the family's requirements before and after the event as well. After the death of a loved one, few individuals feel motivated to cook.

What Should You Not Bring at a Funeral?

Funerals are solemn occasions, and you should always dress appropriately for them. However, there are several items that should never be brought to a funeral. This is because they will make people feel uncomfortable or insulted when they attend the funeral of a loved one. Here are some of the things you should not bring at a funeral:

  1. Loud devices - Leave any distracting electronics at home. It's natural to want to carry your phone, but make sure it doesn't go off suddenly. Similarly, if you're bringing youngsters, keep an eye on any electronics they may be carrying.
  2. Children - While it depends on the family, many funerals do not allow small children to attend. Depending on the kid's relationship with the dead, it may be a good idea for the youngster to stay with another relative during the funeral.
  3. Inappropriate gifts - Regardless of custom, expensive presents are not typically suitable to bring at funerals. The majority of funeral presents range from $20 to $100. Any more than that may make the family uncomfortable or divert attention away from the main purpose of the day. Remember that it is the thought that matters.

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In this section

Grief Support

When Death Occurs

Funeral Etiquette

Social Security Benefits

Send Flowers

Frequent Questions

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