Funerals are emotional events meant to cherish and remember the life of a departed soul. Every one of us has to attend a funeral at least once in our lifetimes. In some cases, it may be more than one, and it is an occasion that brings mixed feelings. Different cultures, religions, and traditions define funeral events in varying ways, but irrespective of these things, there are certain etiquettes that all of us must adhere to when attending an end-of-life event.

Here are some things that fall under the general etiquette of going to a funeral:

Should you attend?

While this question might feel irrelevant, at times, it can be pertinent. It is generally said that the funeral of someone you know or those whose family you are close to must be attended uninvited. Unless it is a private ceremony and you have not received an invitation, you should go.

However, there are times when a person’s attendance can be a cause of discomfort for the grieving family. There can be many reasons for this. In case you feel that your presence may cause a commotion or generate uncomfortable feelings amongst those attending the funeral, it is best to skip the event.

What is the dress code to follow?

Black is usually the subtle, underlying color code for a funeral. Yet, it can differ depending on the type of service you are attending. It is customary to carry a bouquet or flower for condolence with whatever you choose to wear, though. Based on the event, the dress code can differ. For memorials, casual dressing, preferably all black, will work, but for the visitation, it is best to dress formal. It is not necessary for the dress code to be specified on the invite, but always assume that a modest suit works appropriately for males.

For females, simple blouses, dresses, or suits are relevant attires to wear at a funeral. Be careful not to wear anything too flashy or exposing. Keep it elegant yet basic. Moreover, wearing black, although intrinsically considered the color of choice, is not a line in the stone. Darker shades of blue, brown, or grey can work just as well. All you need to do is avoid bright colors. If you want to read more, here’s a comprehensive guide about what to wear to a funeral.

What about bringing kids to a funeral?

Younger kids are sometimes not very good at observing the decorum in events that require silence and calm. Despite it not being their fault, their activities can disrupt the normal flow of events, especially at funerals. If you are sure that your kids will behave, you can bring them along. Also, if you know you’ll only be at the event briefly, it may be advisable to bring children with you. However, if any of the above is not true, it is best to leave kids behind.

How to interact with the family of the deceased?

Every person is different. Their way of expressing emotions can vary. While some carry a calm demeanor, others may express their grief more openly. The overwhelming sadness can morph into other emotions as well, like frustration, haste, or silence. This is why interacting with the grieving family can sometimes be challenging. Knowing exactly what to say and how to express your profound grief for their loss is imperative.

Still, saying something is much better than silently attending the funeral and leaving. To better understand what you need to say, it works to observe the family as they interact with other attendees. Play it safe by sticking to short expressive statements like “We feel sorry for your loss” and “We’re here to help in any way we can.” Avoid explanatory sentences and undue conversations that extend far too long.

Should you bring gifts to a funeral?

Unlike celebratory events, carrying gifts to a funeral is not customary. It is neither an expectation nor a requirement of any sort. Still, flowers or note cards carrying condolences can be brought along even though you need not. That being said, being empathetic towards the grieving family can mean a lot to them. Try and lighten their load during their daily routines; for instance, if you are a neighbor, have a home-cooked meal delivered to their doorstep.

Best ways to conduct yourself at the funeral?

One of the most important aspects of attending a funeral is knowing how to carry yourself at the event. For visitations in church, avoiding unnecessary conversations with friends and colleagues sitting next to you is crucial. Only speak when absolutely important; keep it short and whisper. Be respectful, avoid undue comments on cultural or religious offerings, and try to reflect the somber feelings of the grieving family.


A funeral is an occasion that, more than anything, marks grief, loss, and sadness. As such, there are important aspects and etiquettes to consider when attending such an event. Dressing appropriately, carrying a flower, carrying a subdued behavior, and maintaining the decorum of the service are some of the most pertinent things to remember. Furthermore, deciding whether you need to attend and whether to bring kids along or not are also facts to consider before heading out to an end-of-life event.  

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