Funeral Etiquette

Let us guide you through the ins and outs of your funeral experience.

Attending a service at American Heritage Cemetery & Funeral Home: Midland, Odessa, TX

Traditional funerals in America are pretty basic. Usually included are the following:

  • A religious ritual of some sort
  • A procession to the final resting place
  • At the site of the grave, a small ceremony

Keep in mind, however, that these can vary greatly. The type of funeral, for example, can depend on the religion involved (if any), the deceased person's station in life, the wishes of the deceased, and much more.

When it comes to the topic of funeral etiquette, there are some basics which are considered proper or traditional.

Keep in mind that funerals of all kinds are taking place in America today. These can range from the simplest, most low-key observations to grand parties and celebrations of life – and everything in between. That said, the following can be considered traditional funeral etiquette that is still observed by many.

Memorial Versus Funeral

Both a memorial and a funeral serve a couple of basic purposes:

  • Offer the chance to pay respects
  • Celebrate the life of the deceased

Typically, however, the deceased person's body is present at a funeral. Memorials, on the other hand, can take place well after a person has passed on, and their body does not have to be present.

Graveside Service

Avoid walking directly on plaques, memorial stones, and other graves when making your way to the gravesite. Chairs at the site are usually designated for the deceased person's family members. Remove your hat if you're wearing one and dress conservatively.

Processional and Recessional

As the casket is being brought in, this is considered a funeral processional. It is led by an officiant and, carrying in the casket are pallbearers.

At the end of the funeral service, a recessional takes place. Once again, the officiant and pallbearers take the casket out followed by friends and family of the deceased.

Smart Phones at Funerals

For the majority of the service, put that cell phone away or at least keep it silent. It is inappropriate to use your phone during a funeral. Leave the premises if you must do so. Also, unless you have permission from the family – no photos!

Signing the Guestbook

When signing the guestbook, feel free to include a brief description of the relationship you had with the person who is deceased. Also include your first name and your last name clearly.

Funerals and Children

As long as the child is well behaved, it's usually okay to bring children. This is particularly applicable if they had a close relationship with the deceased. However, hire a babysitter and leave the kids at home if they’re babies or toddlers.

Bringing a Gift

Usually much appreciated by the family and an ideal way of expressing your condolences are gifts of sympathy flowers. Have them delivered by a service or bring them with you to the funeral. Gift baskets to the home of the family is another considerate showing of support.

Religious Beliefs and Other Etiquette /Considerations

  • You do not have to take part in religious practices if you are not comfortable with them. Stand/sit politely and listen as best you can.
  • 10 to 20 minutes before a funeral is a good time to arrive.
  • "My thoughts are with you," or "I'm sorry for your loss," are acceptable ways of expressing your sympathy, condolences, or support.
  • The second and first seats at a funeral are typically reserved for dear friends and/or close family of the deceased.
  • Though black used to be standard attire for funerals, things have changed greatly. Try to be as respectable as possible in your choice of clothing.
  •  Attendance at a funeral is sometimes by invitation-only. Otherwise, attending a funeral is pretty much left up to the individual. Even if you weren't particularly close to the deceased, but you are close with the family, you may choose to attend.

Whatever the Funeral Type – Count on Us

Whether you are planning a massive celebration-of-life, a quiet, family-only service, a cremation, a burial, or any one of all the possible funerals available, we are here to assist you. Representatives from American Heritage Cemetery Funeral Home Crematory understand that each and every life is unique. They should all be honored and celebrated. When a loved one dies, it can be an extremely difficult time in your life. We are here to guide you through the entire process. We consider ourselves not just a funeral home, but a community gathering place.

Contact us today at American Heritage Cemetery Funeral Home Crematory to discuss details, ask questions, or set up an appointment.

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