What to Expect at a Visitation or Funeral: A Guide to Customs and Etiquette

July 27th, 2023
What to Expect at a Visitation or Funeral: A Guide to Customs and Etiquette

If you are new to attending funerals or visitations, then you may have no idea what to expect. So, we have a prepared a little guide to give you some general information on customs and etiquette. Customs vary between religions. What you will find below applies primarily to funerals and visitations for those who are not religious at all, or Christian or Jewish.

Visitation at the Funeral Home

Expect to see a few people. It is rare for something like this to be crowded. Dress up rather than down. While dress codes have relaxed considerably over the years, it is still appropriate to wear dark colours and nothing skimpy or showing too much skin. Jewish married woman often cover their heads with a hat or mantilla.

You may bring or send flowers, but you can ask the family or the funeral home if you are not sure. Some people do not want a lot of flowers. Flowers can also be sent to the home of the bereaved. Greet the family of the bereaved, say a few kind words, and then leave. No one stays for hours at a visitation.


The same dress code applies to the funeral. Go on time, greet the bereaved briefly, sit for the service, then leave. Sometimes people will gather at someone’s home afterwards. If you are invited, then someone will tell you so.

This is not a time for loud laughter or arguments. Keep your voice level or subdued out of deference to the deceased. Remember that there may be some very grief-stricken individuals who are not interested in long conversations.

Visitation at Home

Many cultures encourage bringing food to the home. But since many people do this, it might be kinder to bring food a week or two later, when others have gone home but the aggrieved are still suffering. The key is to dress appropriately, greet those who are there, and do not overstay your welcome. Plenty of others will be coming and going.

There are no hard and fast rules about visitations and funerals. What is important to understand is that you are there to pay your respects to the living and to the dead. The funeral is not about you, so stay in background and keep that in mind.

If you need help planning a funeral, please feel free to call us on the Lower Mainland at (604) 463-8121. 

Maple Ridge Funeral Chapel and Crematorium, based in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, provides has been providing compassionate funeral services on the Lower Mainland for over 60 years. We have deep roots in the community and take great pride in caring ethics and exemplary service. If you have any questions about this article or would like to talk to us about funeral services, please call us at (604) 463-8121.