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Etiquette Tips

Funeral & Cemetery Etiquette

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

What to Wear

What to Wear

Generally people wear clothing that does not draw attention as the focus should be on the deceased. 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.

If you are attending an outdoor service, or graveside service please take into consideration the weather. You made need an umbrella, warm gloves, boots, or sunglasses.

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. We can answer many of your questions and can point you toward resources that offer more information.

Paying Respect/What to Say

Paying Respect/What to Say

During the funeral service, while in the recieving line, a simple “I'm sorry for your loss” or “My thoughts and prayers are with you” can be meaningful and comforting for the bereaved. Keep your comments brief to allow others in line the opportunity to show their respect before the service begins. If the line is short and time allows, kind words about the deceased are always appropriate, but can also be shared when more time allows after the service, at the luncheon, in a card, or with a phone call.

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.

Signing the Register

Signing the Register

Be sure to add yourself to the register book, printing clearly and using your full name so that the family can contact you in the future if desired. It's also helpful to add an affiliation to indicate how you knew the deceased — through work, social clubs, school, etc. if you are unfamiliar to the immediate family. 

Flowers & Gifts

Flowers & Gifts

Sending flowers, making a donation, or giving a memorial gift let the bereaved know that they are in your thoughts. Consider any charities, scholarships, or other affiliations to make your gesture more meaningful. 

Turn Off Your phone

Turn Off Your Phone

It is extremely disruptive during a prayer or tribute to turn the focus away from the life being honored. 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.

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. Be mindful of others paying respect and where they might be on their healing journey.

Follow the Rules

Follow the Rules

Most cemeteries have a sign posted near the entrance listing cemetery hours and rules specific to the property such as any floral regulations they might have set. 

Speak Softly & Politely

Speak Softly & Politely

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

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. 

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.

Schaff Funeral Service
Phone: (414) 541-7533
Fax: (414) 541-7570
5920 West Lincoln Ave., West Allis, WI 53219


© Schaff Funeral Service
Crafted with care by Frazer Consultants and TA