Funeral Service, Memorial Service or Celebration of Life Etiquette

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When attending a visitation/viewing, funeral, memorial service or celebration of life, you might find yourself uncertain of what you should wear, what to say, or what to do. We've put together a short guide to the basics of funeral home etiquette to help you pay your respects with courtesy and consideration.


What to wear to a celebration of life

The most important thing to remember when attending a service is that your presence is more important than your appearance. Bereaved family members will likely only remember that you were there in support rather than what you were wearing. Be present. If you are still wanting some funeral fashion guidance then the safe play is to wear something that does not bring attention to yourself. However, if the deceased was a sports fan or loved a certain color then its always honoring to dress in those fashions in honor and memory of the deceased.  

Religious & Ethnic Customs

Traditions and customs differ among various communities, ethnic groups and religions, and it's often helpful to ask beforehand about any special considerations you need to take into account. We can answer many of your questions, and can also point you toward resources that offer specific and detailed guides.



A funeral is an emotional time, and grieving is a natural part of the healing process. Don't feel uncomfortable if you or the bereaved begins to cry. However, if you find yourself becoming extremely upset, it is kinder to excuse yourself to avoid increasing the strain on the family.


Greeting the Family

Upon arrival, approach the family and express your sympathy with an embrace or by offering your hands. Don't feel that you should avoid talking about the person who has died...in fact, talking can help the grieving process to begin.


What to Say at A Celebration of Life Service

Express your sympathy in your own words, whatever feels right to you. Kind words about the loved one who has passed are always appropriate, and a simple "I'm sorry for your loss" or "My thoughts and prayers are with you" can be meaningful and comforting for the bereaved.


What Not to Say

Don't ask the cause of death; if the family wants to discuss it, let them bring it up. Avoid giving unsolicited advice, or making comments that might unintentionally diminish the importance of the loss, such as "I've been through this before."


Paying Respect

At a service with an open casket, it's customary to show your respect by viewing the deceased and, if you wish, spending a few moments in silent prayer. The family may escort you to the casket, or you might approach on your own. Viewing the deceased is not mandatory, however, and you should act according to what is comfortable to you.


How to Act

After you've offered your condolences to the family, it's perfectly appropriate to engage in quiet conversation with friends and other associates of the deceased who attend the visitation. Don't feel that you have to stay longer than you feel comfortable; your presence means a lot to the family, no matter how long or short the visit.


Signing the Register

Be sure to add yourself to the register book, using your full name so that the family can identify you in the future. It's also helpful to add information about how you knew the deceased-through work, social clubs, school, etc.


What Do You Bring to A Celebration of Life

Sending flowers, making a donation, or giving a memorial gift are all meaningful gestures to let the bereaved know that they are in your thoughts. The simplest of tributes can be of great comfort to the family, and can express your sympathy when words just aren't enough.


Turn Off Your Cellphone

This one should go without saying. If you choose to bring your phone into the funeral home, take a moment to make sure you've turned it off.



Frequently Asked Questions:

Do you bring anything to a memorial service?

It is customary to bring flowers to a memorial service. You can also bring a food dish to share with the bereaved family. Some people prefer to make charitable donations to honor the deceased person.

Is it OK to wear jeans to a funeral?

There is no one answer to this question, as it depends on the specific funeral and the preferences of the family or friends hosting the service. However, wearing jeans to a funeral is usually acceptable if that is what you are most comfortable with.

Who should speak at a celebration of life?

The person who speaks at a life celebration should be someone close to the person who has died. This could be a family member, friend, or coworker. The speaker should be able to share stories and memories that will capture the essence of the person who has died. Ultimately, the goal is to celebrate the life of the individual, so the speaker should be positive and uplifting.

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Littleton & Rue Funeral Home and Crematory

830 N Limestone St Springfield, OH 45503

(937) 323-6439


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