Funeral Etiquette For a Memorial Service

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 row.

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.”

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