Etiquette for Graveside Committal Services

Updated April 17, 2017

Funerals are a difficult time for people. Families mourn the loss of a family member or friend. As a sign of respect and common sense, know the basic behaviour rules to follow at a funeral. Supporting the family of the deceased is the most important role you play at a funeral. As part of your support, follow the basic rule of etiquette so you can provide comfort in a time of need.


The basic role of attendees at a funeral is to support the family. That support includes following proper etiquette. Speak with the family and tell them you are sorry for their loss. Offer to provide assistance in some way as they deal with the loss of a loved one. For example, offer to cook for the family so they will not have to plan a meal while they grieve. Tell the family that they can talk to you if they need to discuss any issues or just share memories of the deceased.


Flowers have a significant role in funerals. Pallbearers wear flowers on their suits, and at the end of the funeral the pallbearer places the flower on top of the casket. Other family members may place flowers on the casket, if they wish. The flowers are a demonstration of honour and remembrance of the deceased.


A small section of chairs is placed near the casket. The funeral staff reserves these seats for the immediate family. Out of respect for the family, do not sit in any of these chairs, unless you are an immediate family member.


The custom at a funeral is to wear dark colours. In modern times, you are not obligated to wear black, but a dark suit or dress is recommended. If you are close to the deceased, you may wear a bright colour. Wear dress clothes, like a suit or dress, to show your respect for the departed and the family.


Be active in the ceremony at the graveside. If the preacher recites a prayer you know and the group begins to say it in unison, then say the prayer as well. If a song is sung at the grave, sing along. Active participation shows the family of the deceased that you care about that person and wish to honour the memory of the deceased.

Cell Phones and Pagers

If you have your cell phone or pager with you, ensure that it is off or on vibrate. Many consider a ringing cell phone offensive. If possible, leave those items in your care to ensure this does not happen.

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About the Author

Todd Young has been writing professionally since 2010, with travel-oriented pieces and other works appearing on various websites. He attended the University of Kentucky and earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a Bachelor of Arts in history.