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Etiquette Tips

Funeral Etiquette

We have put together a short guide to help you pay your respects with courtesy.

Be on-time

Be on-time

In a busy world, it is sometimes easy to get behind in our daily schedule. Try to avoid this if at all possible when attending a funeral. Being on-time is important. The purpose of the funeral is to honor and pay respect to the deceased.

Silence your cell phones

Silence your cell phones

If you choose to bring your phone into the funeral home, take a moment to make sure you've turned it off, or, at the very least, on silent or vibrate.

Sign the guest book

Sign the guest book

Be sure to add yourself to the register book, using your full name so that the family can identify you in the future. It's also helpful to add information about how you knew the deceased — through work, social clubs, school, etc.

Leave small children (Under 7) at home if possible

Leave small children (Under 7) at home if possible

Small children have shorter attention spans and asking them to sit through a funeral service may not be reasonable. If you do bring small children, be sure to take them out of the service area if they become disruptive.

Do not take photos unless the family requests otherwise

Do not take photos unless the family requests otherwise

Taking photos of the deceased without the permission of the family can be upsetting. If the family does permit photographs be sure they are tasteful and do not to post them to social media without their consent.

Stay for the entire service

Stay for the entire service

Leaving in the middle of the service can be disruptive and distract from the services. The exception to this would be an emergency.

Sympathy Cards

Sympathy Cards

Sympathy cards are a thoughtful way to show the family that you are thinking of them during this difficult time. It is appropriate to leave the card with a member of the funeral home staff or in a designated basket. Try to avoid giving it to the family directly so they don’t have to carry it around with them during the services. The funeral home staff will gather all of the gifts and cards and present them to the family at the conclusion of the service.

Flowers & Gifts

Flowers & Gifts

Sending flowers, making a donation, or giving a memorial gift are all meaningful gestures to let the bereaved know that they are in your thoughts.

What to do if you cannot attend the services

What to do if you cannot attend the services

If you cannot attend the services you can call, text, send a card, send flowers or make a donation in the deceased name to express your condolences.

Private Services

Private Services

If the family decides to have a private service it means the the services are for invited family members and friends only. Those wishes should be respected. You could send a card or call with your condolences instead.

Should an ex-spouse attend the service?

Should an ex-spouse attend the service?

This depends on several factors. Did the ex-spouse and deceased have a good relationship? Do they have children together that would be supported during this time, and do they want the ex-spouse to be in attendance? In these cases, the answer is yes, they should attend. The purpose of a funeral is to show respect and love for the deceased, make sure that is the reason for attending. Consider the feelings of a current spouse and the immediate family members. If the relationship between the deceased and ex-spouse was strained in any way, just stay home.

What to Wear

What to Wear

Traditionally, black is what is thought of for funeral attire although many other colors are perfectly acceptable. Dark gray, navy, and darker shades of purple or green are appropriate. A brighter color may be appropriate as well if paired with black or darker colors. Some families request specific colors be worn to honor their loved one and that would be appropriate as well. Casual clothing has become more acceptable for funerals (nice jeans with a collared shirt or a nice blouse), but refrain from wearing things like gym clothes or flip-flops if possible. If you aren't sure, simply try to dress in a conservative way that shows respect for the family and other mourners. For men, a suit and a conservative tie is usually a safe bet. Women should generally wear a conservative dress, skirt, or pants with a tasteful blouse.

Driving in a Funeral Procession

Driving in a Funeral Procession

If you will be driving a vehicle in a funeral procession you will first need to make sure you get a sticker from one of the motorcycle escorts to place on your review mirror. Turn on your lights and flashers. Obey all motorcycle officers and funeral directors at all times. Never let an outside car (not part of the procession) pass through the procession at any time. Maintain a safe but close distance to the car in front of you and allow the immediate family members to be in the front of the procession nearest to the funeral car.

Religious & Ethnic Customs

Religious & Ethnic Customs

Traditions and customs differ among various communities, ethnic groups, and religions, and it's often helpful to ask beforehand about any special considerations. It is appropriate to participate in as much of the service as you feel comfortable.

What to Say

What to Say

Express your sympathy in your own words, however it feels right to you. Kind words about the loved one who has passed are always appropriate, and a simple “I'm sorry for your loss” or “My thoughts and prayers are with you” can be meaningful and comforting for the bereaved.

Paying Respect

Paying Respect

At a service with an open casket, it's customary to show your respect by viewing the deceased and, if you wish, spending a few moments in silent prayer. The family may escort you to the casket, or you might approach on your own. Viewing the deceased is not mandatory, however, and you should do what is comfortable to you.

Cemetery Etiquette

When visiting a cemetery or attending a graveside service, these tips will help you enjoy a peaceful experience and pay your respects with courtesy.

Follow the Rules

Follow the Rules

Most cemeteries have a sign posted near the entrance listing rules specific to the property. Follow the rules and observe any floral regulations they might have set. Make sure to follow and obey the cemetery hours.

Respect the Grave

Respect the Grave

Don't touch any monuments or headstones; this is not only disrespectful, but may cause damage to the memorials — especially older ones. Never remove anything from a gravestone, such as flowers, coins, or tributes that have been left by a family.

Be Respectful of Services & Other Mourners

Be Respectful of Services & Other Mourners

If a funeral is occurring, take care not to get in the way of processions. Respect their privacy and give them their space.

Speak Softly & Politely

Speak Softly & Politely

Be respectful to other mourners. Remember to keep your voice down when having conversations. Make sure your phone is muted or turned off.

Look After Your Children

Look After Your Children

If you bring children, make sure to keep a close eye on them and keep them from running, yelling, and playing or climbing on graves and monuments.

Leave the Chairs for Immediate Family Members and Attendees Needing Assistance.

Leave the Chairs for Immediate Family Members and Attendees Needing Assistance.

Leave the chairs or benches for the immediate family members or those attendees who need special assistance or who cannot stand for very long.

Stay Clear of All Cemetery Equipment

Stay Clear of All Cemetery Equipment

For your safety and the safety of the cemetery grounds crew, stay clear of any and all equipment

Silence Your Cell Phones

Silence Your Cell Phones

If you choose to bring your phone into the funeral home, take a moment to make sure you've turned it off, or, at the very least, on silent or vibrate.

Witnessing the Burial

Witnessing the Burial

Only stay to witness the burial if you are invited by the family to do so. If the family isn’t staying for the burial process, you shouldn’t either.

Don't Leave Trash Behind

Don't Leave Trash Behind

Use designated receptacles if they are provided, otherwise hang onto your trash and take it with you when you leave.

*For further questions, please contact a member of our staff.

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4205 SE. 59th Ave. Portland, OR 97206

 


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