Funeral Etiquette: What To Know About Caskets And Viewing

Funerals are solemn occasions that provide an opportunity for friends and family to come together to mourn, remember, and pay their respects to a departed loved one. Proper funeral etiquette is essential during these events to ensure that everyone can grieve and find closure in a respectful and supportive environment. One aspect of funeral etiquette that deserves attention is the role of caskets and the viewing of the deceased. In this article, we will delve into the nuances of funeral etiquette related to caskets and viewing, highlighting the significance of these practices and how to navigate them with grace and sensitivity.

  1. The Purpose Of A Casket

Caskets play a central role in many funeral traditions, and understanding their purpose is crucial. The primary function of a casket is to provide a dignified and respectful container for the deceased’s body. It serves as a vessel to carry and protect the body during the funeral process and burial or cremation. Caskets for sale come in various materials, designs, and price ranges, allowing families to choose one that aligns with their preferences, traditions, and budgets.

  1. Open Casket Vs. Closed Casket

One of the most important decisions regarding the casket is whether it will be open or closed during the viewing and funeral service. This decision is typically made by the deceased’s family, often in consultation with the funeral director. Here’s what you need to know about both options:

  1. Open Casket:

An open casket means that the deceased’s body is visible for mourners to see and pay their final respects.

When approaching an open casket, it’s customary to show reverence by bowing your head or making the sign of the cross, if appropriate to your faith.

Keep your visit brief and respectful. It’s not a time for lengthy conversations or socializing.

If the family has requested no physical contact with the deceased, respect their wishes.

  1. Closed Casket:

A closed casket means that the deceased’s body is not visible to mourners.

Treat a closed casket with the same respect as an open one. Pay your respects to the memory of the person, even if you cannot see them.

Avoid asking questions about why the casket is closed, as it may be a sensitive matter for the family.

  1. Dressing For The Occasion

When attending a funeral or viewing, it’s essential to dress appropriately. Funeral attire is generally conservative and respectful. Here are some guidelines to follow:

Men: Wear a dark-colored suit, dress shoes, and a tie. Avoid flashy or overly casual clothing.

Women: Choose a modest, dark-colored dress or suit. Avoid revealing or flashy attire.

Avoid Bright Colors: It’s customary to wear dark or muted colors, such as black, gray, navy, or dark green.

Avoid Excessive Jewelry And Accessories: Keep your outfit simple and understated.

  1. Conduct During The Viewing

During the viewing, it’s crucial to maintain respectful and somber behavior. Here are some tips to follow:

Arrive On Time: Being punctual shows respect for the grieving family and the deceased.

Maintain A Quiet Demeanor: Speak in hushed tones, if necessary, and avoid laughter or loud conversations.

Turn Off Your Phone: Ensure that your mobile device does not disrupt the solemn atmosphere.

Offer Condolences: Approach the family to offer your condolences and express your sympathy.

Be Supportive: If you know the family, offer your assistance and support in any way you can.

Respect Cultural And Religious Customs: If you are unfamiliar with the family’s customs, follow the lead of others or ask a knowledgeable attendee for guidance.

  1. Viewing Lines And Seating Arrangements

Funeral homes typically have specific arrangements for viewing lines and seating during visitations. Here’s what you need to know:

Viewing Line: Mourners often form a line to pass by the casket and pay their respects to the deceased. Follow the line in an orderly fashion, and keep your visit brief.

Seating: Funeral homes will have designated seating areas for family members and close friends. Sit in the appropriate area if you are part of the inner circle. Otherwise, choose a seat in the general seating area.

  1. Photography And Technology

In today’s digital age, it’s important to be mindful of the use of technology during funerals and viewings. Here are some guidelines:

Photography: Before taking a picture, you should always ask approval. Many families prefer to keep the event private and may not want images shared on social media.

Turn Off Devices: Silence or turn off your phone, and avoid texting, browsing the internet, or taking calls during the service.

Respect Privacy: Be cautious about posting about the funeral on social media. Some families may appreciate a mention, while others prefer complete privacy.

  1. Expressing Condolences

Offering condolences is an essential part of funeral etiquette. Here’s how to do it with sincerity and empathy:

Personalize Your Message: Share a heartfelt memory or a kind word about the deceased.

Keep It Simple: You don’t need to have all the right words; a simple “I’m so sorry for your loss” can mean a lot.

Offer Support: Let the grieving family know that you are there for them if they need anything.

Avoid Clichés: While well-intentioned, clichéd phrases like “everything happens for a reason” may not provide comfort and can be hurtful.

  1. Children At Funerals

If you are attending a funeral with children, it’s essential to prepare them for the experience and help them understand the importance of respectful behavior. Depending on their age, consider whether they should attend the viewing and funeral service.

Explain The Situation: Talk to children about death in an age-appropriate manner and explain what they can expect at the funeral.

Monitor Their Behavior: Keep an eye on children to ensure they are quiet and respectful during the service.

Prepare For Questions: Children may have questions about death, so be prepared to answer them honestly and gently.

  1. After The Funeral

Funeral etiquette extends beyond the service itself. After the funeral, it’s important to continue showing support to the grieving family:

Send A Sympathy Card: A handwritten card expressing your condolences can provide comfort to the family.

Offer Assistance: If you are close to the family, offer practical assistance such as preparing meals or helping with errands.

Check In: Grief doesn’t end with the funeral. Reach out to the family in the weeks and months following the loss to see how they are doing.


Funerals are emotionally charged events, and observing proper etiquette is a way to show respect and support to the grieving family. Understanding the role of caskets and how to conduct oneself during viewings is essential. By dressing appropriately, maintaining respectful behavior, and offering condolences, you can contribute to a comforting and respectful atmosphere during this challenging time. Remember that the primary goal is to honor the memory of the deceased and provide solace to those left behind.

Leave a Comment