What is the correct Funeral Etiquette?

It seems that the days of folks arriving to a funeral in their Sunday best, has well and truly gone, with most people, especially up here in Queensland’s scorching weather, has opted for a more casual approach to funeral attire.

And rightly so!  Long ago, people would dress up in their Sunday best as a sign of respect and courtesy to the deceased, this stemming from a time where the majority of funerals were held in a church, celebrants were unheard of, and the secular nature of our society was still the driving force behind how we conducted a funeral. The focus back then, was all on the mourning of a person’s life, whereas now, we seem to take the approach that their life is for celebrating and that becomes the focus of a modern funeral.

Whilst our choice and taste in clothing may have changed, there are still some important etiquette rules that we encourage people to recognise.  Here are just a few things that you can observe when you are next at a funeral to keep funeral etiquette alive and well (excuse the pun).


There is probably never a more important time to be on time, than a funerals.  These days we work with chapels who are commercial businesses in their own right and they book as per their daly scheduled needs.  This means that the time available to us for each funeral is set in stone.  If you are late for a funeral the chances are that you will miss out on the part of the service you aren’t there for, because it is almost impossible for us to hold up a service and wait for someone to arrive.  If you know you are attending a funeral service, plan for it, get things organised and ready so that you are able to arrive on time, not just for the benefit of the family and the mourners who are attending, but also to prevent you from feeling anxious and stressed when you arrive.  And of course don’t forget to plan for that wonderful Brisbane traffic!

Record Your Attendance

Most services will have a Memorial or Guest Book that they want people to sign when they arrive.  When you record your details, it is best to not simply sign your signature. I don’t know about you, but anyone reading my signature would need to be the keeper of the oracle to work out that it belonged to me.  So for our grieving families, it helps to have an easily legible record of who attended.  They may choose to send thank you cards or messages to those that attended, so make sure your name is easily understood.

Family Interactions

All too often, we can easily forget that we aren’t the primary focus and get swept up in our own grief.  For families, it can be particularly overwhelming when masses of people are trying to seek them out, to offer condolences and give that all important hug.  Sometimes a grieving person just needs a little space before a funeral to collect their thoughts and emotions and give themselves time to prepare for the service that is about to occur.  It isn’t that they don’t appreciate you making the time to attend and celebrate their loved ones life, it is simply that they are struggling in that very moment and all they need is just a moment to breath.  We encourage all guests to spend time with the bereaved family members after the service, this is usually a much more relaxed period of time and means that you can support them when they need it most.  Sometimes funeral directors will have the family separated from the gathering of mourners, this isn’t because we want to keep the family away from you, it is because we have been requested by family to help them out with a little breathing space for a second.


A funeral is one of those times where nothing less than the utmost respect is acceptable.  This means respecting the family, the gathering of mourners, the funeral directors, the clergy or celebrant, but most importantly it means respecting the deceased.  For us funeral directors, we take protecting our deceased very seriously, and for us, there is no greater sin at a funeral than disrespecting someone who is in our care.  This extends to the family of the deceased, we will do everything we possibly can to support them and shield them from anything negative and disrespectful.  So at all times, conduct yourself with respect, courtesy and dignity.  We know that sometimes relationships can be tense and strained from years of whatever, but please know, at no times will we accept disrespectful behaviour at a funeral.  And trust me, there is nothing worse than an angry funeral director, I mean after all, we have a pretty in-depth understanding of how to dispose of a human.


This is an easy one. Wear what you feel most comfortable in and what you feel is the most respectful outfit for the occasion.  Now a few small suggestions for you when you attend your next funeral service.  Remember that it is a funeral so it is one of those occasions where it’s acceptable to dress up during the day!

There really are no hard and fast rules when it comes to Funerals, but what we say is always be on your best behaviour, remember where you are and why you are there, and do your very best to be supportive for each other the the family of the deceased.

If you have questions about funeral etiquette or anything funeral related, why not get in touch with us at 1300 043 522 or [email protected] and let us answer any questions you may have.

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