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When you are preparing for a funeral, there may be some things you won't know or expect when it comes to the service or events surrounding the funeral. Etiquette will cover what to expect when it comes to certain events and what is typically done.

Funeral Service

Funeral directors assist families in arranging the details of  the service.  According to denomination, services are held at a place of worship or at a funeral home with the deceased present. An obituary notice announcing the death and the details of the service is most helpful to friends and the community

Memorial Service

The body is not present during a memorial service.  The service can follow the ceremony and procedures of a funeral service, if desired, with the exception of a viewing of the deceased. Typically a photograph or several photographs depicting the life of the deceased would be displayed.

Private Services

Service may be held at place of worship, a funeral home or a family home and attendance is by invitation only. A few close friends and selected relatives join the family for the service


Relatives, friends, church members or business associates customarily serve as pallbearers.  Typically, six individuals would be identified to serve and would receive instructions from the funeral director regarding their role during the service. Honorary pallbearers do not carry the casket but are usually recognized because they are close associates of the deceased.


The eulogy should offer praise and commendation and reflect the life of the person who has passed away. It may be given by a family member, close friend, clergy, or a business associate of the deceased.


The experience of a death can be a very confusing time for a family.  Whether you express your condolences in the form of a phone call, a floral arrangement, a sympathy card or a memorial donation, it is important to clearly identify yourself to the family.

Funeral Procession / Cortege

If burial is held within the local area, friends and relatives may accompany the family to the location of the funeral service, and afterward, to the cemetery.  The funeral director will assist in arranging the vehicles in the procession and will determine the route.  All vehicles in the procession should have their headlights on and follow closely enough to discourage other vehicles from cutting into the procession. The procession has the right of way at intersections and is required to yield to emergency vehicles only.  Caution should always be exercised when going against a traffic signal in case oncoming drivers do not yield to the funeral procession.


A floral tribute is an appropriate means of expressing sympathy to the deceased's family. Flowers or a potted plant can be sent to the funeral home or to the residence. The floral cards on the arrangements sent to the funeral home will be removed after the service and given to the family so that they may acknowledge the gift.

Personal Note

A personal note is always appropriate and should express your sorrow for the family's loss. You may also indicate your availability to assist the family as needed.

Telephone Call

Be a good listener, speaking to a family member gives you an opportunity to offer your services and make them feel you really care.


Your presence is an eloquent statement that you care. Use your own judgement on how long you should remain at the place of visitation. If you feel your presence is needed; offer to stay.

Grief Recovery

It is healthy to recognize death and discuss it realistically with friends and relatives. Your funeral director can help family and friends locate available resources and grief recovery programs in your area.

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