Funeral Etiquette For a Memorial
By Carole Galassi
There are just a few things to remember in the way of
funeral etiquette. People do not expect etiquette to be
followed specifically by the bereaved family members. So
if you miss any items, don't stress over it. This is
meant to be a general guideline to assist you in what is
normally done during a memorial service.
If you will be having a guest book present at the
visitation and service, place it at the back of the
church or the funeral home where people will enter
before being seated. The immediate family members
usually sit in the first few pews or rows. You can
choose to be seated as soon as you arrive or stay in the
back to greet other mourners and attendees.
If the casket is to be present during the service, the
funeral director will coordinate with the pall bearers
to carry the casket out of the funeral car. The pall
bearers may carry the casket to the front of church
before the service begins, or simply lift it onto a cart
to be wheeled in to the front of the room where the
service will be held.
The funeral director plays a vital role directing and
coordinating the pall bearers of their duties and where
they will take seat during the entire service.
The officiant or clergy will announce the opening of the
service. You can also choose to have a close family
member welcome them and say a few short opening
statements. The officiant, clergy or family member will
introduce each new event or item in the funeral or
memorial program before it begins.
If there is is to be a viewing of the body at the end of
the service, the funeral director will be responsible to
open the lid of the casket (generally, only the top half
of the casket will be opened, exposing the deceased
upper half of the body). Mourners may now view the body,
stopping for a few moments to pay their last respects or
simply just walk past the casket.
When the service is over, the funeral director will
close the casket and will lead the pall bearers in
placing the casket back into the funeral car or hearse.
The family will then leave their seats, followed by all
attendees starting from the front of the church, row by
You may elect to greet the attendees as they give you
condolences after the service. Generally, a line will
form with the family members at the front of the room to
begin receiving sympathies from the attendees.
If there is a police escort to the cemetery for a
graveside service, remain in your car and follow the car
procession as lead by the police car. If there is a
short reception after the service, mourners may attend
and give their condolences to you and your family during
this time. You can simply acknowledge each person's
sympathies by saying "thank you for coming."
For more funeral resources, visit The Funeral Program
Site where you will find a wealth of information that
can assist you in the details of the funeral or memorial
service. This website offers beautiful funeral programs
that highlight your loved one's life, obituary help,
poems, readings, and scripture verses.