Understanding Graveside Funeral Etiquette

There are several components involved in a funeral. As a guest, you want to know how to handle each one. A full-service funeral, as it is known, typically begins with a service at a church. In some cases – often in the event of cremation – a memorial service may be held at the funeral home. Some funeral homes, such as ours at Mountain View Funeral Home, have an onsite chapel and cemetery. Once the funeral itself is over, this is the time the graveside service takes place.

Should You Attend the Graveside Service?

Unless you read in the death notice or there is an announcement at the church service that the affair is private, you can usually assume that anyone who knew the deceased is welcome. If it is a private event, you should respect the family’s wishes. Simply send a card with your condolences in lieu of attendance.

What Is the Procedure for a Graveside Service?

After the church service, the funeral procession will leave for the cemetery. Unless you are part of the family, wait until all of the marked funeral vehicles leave, then follow the procession. Travel will be slow, so be patient and courteous.

Graveside Etiquette

Your phone should already be on silent, but if you forgot to do this, be sure to do it before you get to the gravesite. There may or may not be chairs. If there are, only sit if there are enough for family plus other attendees.

There are typically readings or prayers said during the service. If they call for a response, participate if you know the responses. Otherwise, remain respectfully quiet.

If you’ve brought young children along, walk them away from the gravesite area if they become restless.

Some religious or cultural rituals may dictate that family and/or friends participate in throwing dirt into the grave. If this is the case, follow the lead of those around you.

Stay until the service ends, then offer your respects to the family and leave quietly.

If you have any questions about a specific situation, or about planning a graveside service, contact our knowledgeable, compassionate staff here at Mountain View Funeral Home.

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