The first order of business is to make sure you have funeral programs for your service. That is a small detail in funeral etiquette one must not forget.
Many people often will avoid going or attending funerals because they are not quite sure how to act, what to say, or how to do it. Because there may be such emotional sadness surrounding those in attendance, it is helpful to know the best funeral etiquette in order to show respect to the surviving family members.
The important thing is that you attend. Your attendance speaks volumes to the family because it shows your support for them during their loss. Even if you did not know the deceased very well, but know the family member, it is your presence that conveys your thoughts are with them. If there is a wake and you are able to attend that, it is also appreciated by the family. But don't feel as if you must attend the wake or visitation. Sometimes, close family and friends attend the wake. So if you are only acquainted with the deceased and cannot make the wake, its perfectly okay.
If you it is a burial with a gravesite service, you may be asked to place a rose on the funeral casket or place some dirt on the casket before it is laid into the ground. This is customary is certain ceremonies and by participating shows the family of your support as well.
It has been a long tradition that mourners and attendees should wear black, but this is no longer the case (however, don't wear bright, cheerful colors either). For men, dark suits and ties are appropriate, and for women, dresses or suits in muted tones are a good choice. If there is a family greeting line after the service, mourners who wish to convey their condolensences personally can do so at this time.
You may send flowers or contibute to the charity of the family's choice in lieu of flowers, if it is their desire. Sending a sympathy card is also a kind gesture that conveys to the family of your care and concern for them during their loss. It is best not to bring small children to the ceremony. The bereaved family may opt to bring their children, but for the most part friends or acquaintances of the deceased do not bring their children.
If there is a reception after the memorial service, attending it is a good idea. Basically, your presence at the service encourages and supports the family. For more great information about funeral planning and other funeral related articles, visit our resource center at our online store, along with the largest selection of funeral service programs available online.