How to pray at a funeral

how to pray at a funeral

Last Updated on May 29, 2018

Biblical funeral prayers are one important way for Christians to honor God, show their trust and faith in him, and proclaim his goodness and sovereignty over all of life’s affairs. In life and in death our hope is in God and in the saving work of Jesus his Son.

So it is right to pray at a Christian’s funeral service. Prayer is an act of worship, an act of trust, and an act of obedience. As such, funeral prayers are profoundly comforting to believers and a wonderful testimony of the deceased’s faith in Christ.

Additionally, because we believe that the Bible is our rule of faith and conduct, it is good to pray Biblical funeral prayers that are taken directly from the Scriptures. This, again, is a way to honor God by proclaiming his word. The Word and prayer are also means of grace by which the Holy Spirit encourages and comforts his people.

Here are ten beautiful and biblical prayers to pray at a believer’s funeral.

how to pray at a funeral

Biblical Funeral Prayers for a Christian Funeral Service

Any of these biblical funeral prayers can be read by a pastor or clergy, by a close friend or family member, or corporately by all attendees. You can divide these up into call-and-response readings, where the leader reads one or more verses and the rest of the funeral service attendees read the next verse or two. Corporate prayers invite participation and allow mourners a way to express grief and faith.

However, not all who attend a funeral are believers, so unless the funeral is held in a church and officiated by a minister you may want to preface any corporate prayers, readings, or hymns with an invitation to participate but also note that it is not required. This is an excellent opportunity to present the the gospel as you encourage those who cannot pray along with you to at least listen and consider the words of Scripture. See “Example of Call-and-Response Corporate Prayer” at the end of this article for how to do a prayer in this manner.

1. PSALM 23

how to pray at a funeral

King James Version (Traditional)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:
For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
Thou anointest my head with oil;
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

English Standard Version (Contemporary)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
For you are with me;
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.


how to pray at a funeral

From Matthew 6:9-13, where Jesus taught his disciples how to pray.

King James Version (Traditional)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory. for ever and ever.

English Standard Version (Contemporary)

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

3. I CORINTHIANS 15:51-57

how to pray at a funeral

Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet.

For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

For that which is corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself with immortality.

And when this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word that is written shall come about: “Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

4. PSALM 27:1, 3-5

how to pray at a funeral

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear:
Though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.
One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after;
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.
For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion:
In the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me;
He shall set me up upon a rock.


how to pray at a funeral

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
A time to be born and a time to die,
A time to plant and a time to uproot,
A time to kill and a time to heal,
A time to tear down and a time to build,
A time to weep and a time to laugh,
A time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
A time to search and a time to give up,
A time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend,
A time to be silent and a time to speak,
A time to love and a time to hate,
A time for war and a time for peace.

6. II TIMOTHY 2:11-13

how to pray at a funeral

This saying is trustworthy:
If we have died with him we shall also live with him;
If we persevere we shall also reign with him.
But if we deny him he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful he remains faithful,
For he cannot deny himself.


how to pray at a funeral

This is an ancient burial prayer taken from multiple Scripture passages. Traditional and anonymous, it is included here because it is simply the words of the Bible in prayer form.

I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. John 11:25-26
I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though this body be destroyed, yet shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself and mine eyes shall behold, and not as a stranger. Job 19:25-27
For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For if we live, we live unto the Lord. and if we die, we die unto the Lord. Whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. Romans 14:7-8
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord; even so saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labors. Revelation 14:13


how to pray at a funeral

From Matthew 5:3-12, where Jesus pronounced this series of blessings for the encouragement of the saints.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.

9. PSALM 116

how to pray at a funeral

I love the Lord, because He has heard
My voice and my supplications.
Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.

The pains of death surrounded me,
And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me;
I found trouble and sorrow.
Then I called upon the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!”

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
Yes, our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me.
Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

For You have delivered my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,
And my feet from falling.
I will walk before the Lord
In the land of the living.
I believed, therefore I spoke,
“I am greatly afflicted.”
I said in my haste,
“All men are liars.”

What shall I render to the Lord
For all His benefits toward me?
I will take up the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows to the Lord
Now in the presence of all His people.

Precious in the sight of the Lord
Is the death of His saints.

O Lord, truly I am Your servant;
I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant;
You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving,
And will call upon the name of the Lord.

I will pay my vows to the Lord
Now in the presence of all His people,
In the courts of the Lord’s house,
In the midst of you, O Jerusalem.

Praise the Lord!

10. PSALM 121

how to pray at a funeral

I lift up my eyes to the hills;
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
The Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip;
He who watches over you will not slumber;
Indeed, He who watches over Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you.
The Lord is your shade at your right hand;
The sun will not harm you by day,
Nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm.
He will watch over your life;
The Lord will watch over your coming and going
Both now and forever more.


Here are some additional biblical funeral prayer Scripture passages ideal for reading or prayer at a funeral.

  • Psalm 32
  • Psalm 34
  • Psalm 46
  • Psalm 130
  • Matthew 11:25-30
  • John 5:24-29
  • 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
  • 1 John 3:1-2


Here is an example of how to do a corporate prayer (where everyone recites the words of the prayer together) in a call-and-response style. From I Corinthians 15:51-57.


Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet.


For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.


For that which is corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself with immortality. And when this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word that is written shall come about: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”


“Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?”


The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.


But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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how to pray at a funeral

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The Lord Jesus has taken away the sting of death through his resurrection. Believers know that for all who are in union with Jesus, their bodies will be united to Christ after death and they anticipate the hope of the resurrection. The sting is gone. The last enemy is defeated. Death has no victory over the believer.

All of this is true in a spiritual sense—death has lost its sting, victory over death has been won. Death no longer holds us captive, but as a pastor for nearly a decade, I have observed that death and the trials and sorrow surrounding it have stings that catches many families by surprise. We never know when we will be called out of this life. Middle-aged men die; children die; old people die. Unless Jesus returns, we will all die.

There will be mourning; the sting of death will bring pain. But trust me in this—if you are in Christ, the mourning will be only here on earth; you will be face-to-face with your precious Savior, Jesus Christ.

Excerpt from The Stings of Death by Nathan Ehelman

A Funeral Prayer for Comfort 

Dear Jesus, How remarkable it is to have a savior who weeps with me.

Back when I was in elementary school, I loved John 11:35 for its brevity. “Jesus wept.” My friends and I would giggle, pleased that we had discovered the second-shortest verse in the Bible. (The shortest verse, as we gleefully reminded each other, was Job 3:2, “He said.”) I didn’t pay much attention to the context of John 11: the story of how You were en route to the tomb of Your friend Lazarus, in the company of Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha, mere days after Lazarus’ death. I didn’t dwell long on the significance of Your tears.

How different that verse looks to me today. Today, as I see the casket topped with flowers that blur at the edges because my eyes go damp every time I look in their direction. Today, as pastors and friends and family members speak about my loved one using the past tense instead of the present. Today, as the words of the hymns catch in my throat and render me mute. Today, as the hope I still hold to be true collides with the waves of sorrow suffocating me.

Today, “Jesus wept” means everything to me. Today, I remember that You wept because someone dear to You and dear to people You loved had died. Even though You already knew the end of the story—even though You knew that death wouldn’t have the final word—still You wept. You didn’t stand aloof, offering textbook reassurances and condescending pats on the head. You heard the stories, clutched the shaking hands, walked to the tomb, and shed tears of your own. You grieved the loss, and You grieved with those who felt that same stinging loss.

Today, Jesus, I am thankful to worship a God who became human enough to weep with me.

I believe that the world wasn’t made for death and loss. I can feel by the cavern in my chest that something is wrong, that this aching sorrow isn’t the way things were supposed to be. And yet I also believe that You, Jesus, are in the business of restoring what has gone wrong. I believe that death won’t get the last word because You’ve already crushed it and declared the power of resurrection over everyone who will receive it.

I believe that this story, like the story of Lazarus, ends in victory. I don’t grieve like someone without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13), because I anticipate new life on the other side of the clouds. And I want to celebrate for brothers and sisters who get there ahead of me, the saints who have sprinted past me into Your throne room. I want to take delight in their delight. Their pain is gone, their needs met, their sorrows overturned, and that thought alone makes me weep for joy.

But knowing the end of the story, knowing the good that’s coming and has already come, doesn’t erase the heartbreak for the meantime. Today, I cry tears that mean a hundred things at once, happy and sorrowful and desperate and hopeful. I trust You to sort them out as You catch them, to hear and answer each prayer they represent.

I cry for those of us left behind, for the lonely ones with hollows in our hearts. I ask You to comfort us, give peace, restore hope, and lavish us with love, family, and belonging. In the depths of loss, meet us with Yourself. 

I cry for the legacy this loved one leaves, for the ways the world has been made different by their presence, for the memories that become both more beautiful and more painful on this side of death. And I pray that the work You have accomplished in this remarkable life will grow deeper, wider, and stronger in the days to come, uninhibited by a weak opponent like death.

I cry for those who haven’t yet accepted Your invitation into eternal life, for those who grieve without hope today. I pray for awakening in their hearts, for a stirring that draws to You. I pray for more attendees at the grand reunion scheduled in the coming eternity.

I cry for all the ways the world has gone wrong, and for all the ways You’re making it right again. I ask that You make me part of Your work in bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth.

I cry knowing You are here with me. And because You are here, even my tears have meaning. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Prayer for Those Hurting from Loss

Our hearts are grieving with those who are hurting, for those who have lost loved ones, for those who have suffered such great tragedy at the hands of evil. We ask that you would be their Comforter, that you would cover them with your grace and mercy, surrounding them in peace during this dark time.

We thank you that you alone are our Refuge, our Strong Tower, our Defender, and our Peace. We thank you that no matter what we face, you are still on the throne, you are still in control, and that no evil can ever stand against you. It will be defeated, it will not win. For you alone have won the final victory, and the enemy’s days are numbered.

Thank you God that you are surely with us…thank you that you care…thank you that your Presence is close…and that you weep with those who weep.  We need you. We know and believe beyond any doubt, that your power and love will never fail. In Jesus’ Almighty Name above all Names, Amen.

Excerpt from Prayer for Those Who are Hurting by Debbie McDaniel

Scriptures to Read at a Funeral

I didn’t fully understand the depths of grief until the year my family lost two sisters and a brother within eight months. My brother-in-law lost a five-year battle with cancer, my sister died an agonizing death from a toxic clash of prescribed medications, and my sister-in-law died suddenly from a triple brain aneurysm. God comforted us through those horrible days in many different ways. Friends made hospital visits and attended funerals. Distant relatives emailed sweet expressions of sympathy. Fellow church members sent cards and casseroles. Our greatest source of comfort, however, was the Bible verses we read in the days surrounding our loved ones’ deaths. Here are 10 verses we found especially meaningful.

“He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Isaiah 53:3 – This verse was meaningful to me because it reminded me that while no one on earth could understand my unique pain, Jesus could. Fully God and fully man, Jesus experienced the depths of human emotion during his time on earth so he could identify with our grief. Combined with John 11:35, where Jesus wept at the tomb of his friend Lazarus, this verse gave me unshakeable proof that God was not only aware of my grief, but grieved with me.

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 – Even if I cry river, Psalm 56:8 told me God would collect every one of my tears. The ones I blinked back. The ones I cried silently. The ones that soaked my pillow in the middle of the night. Not a single tear escaped his notice. Each one was precious to him, because I was precious to him.

“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me.” Psalm 23:4 – This beloved verse reminds me that death is only a shadow. It passes over for a moment, but it cannot permanently hurt the believer. Eighteenth-century preacher Dwight L. Moody described it this way, “The valley of the shadow of death holds no darkness for the child of God. There must be light, else there could be no shadow. Jesus is the light. He has overcome death.” 

“We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8 – This verse, paired with the New Testament story of Jesus’ last hours on the cross, reassures me that as soon as my loved ones took their last breaths on earth, they took their first breaths in heaven. I don’t have to wonder if they’re languishing in some in-between holding place hoping to one day see Jesus. Like Christ told the thief on the cross when he placed his faith in him, “Today, you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43 NIV). A beloved pastor once described death as walking from one room into the next. The moment my loved ones stepped out of the room called earth, they stepped into the room called heaven. And Jesus was waiting for them there.

“He wil wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!'” Revelation 21:4-5 – The thought of Jesus wiping away my tears once and for all is a precious thought. Think of a world where sorrow is banished and sickness, pain, and death have no home. Picture a place where sin’s curse has been removed, and we’ll never again have to experience the agonizing pain of cancer, Alzheimer’s, or heart disease. No hospitals. No cancer centers. No funeral homes. Just health, joy, and peace.

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5 – My pastor shared this verse with me during one of my darkest days. “Right now,” he said, “you feel like you’ll never be happy again, but you will. You may wonder if it’s okay, if being happy somehow dishonors your loved one. Trust me, it doesn’t.” He was right. In time, my family and I did smile again. Even in the midst of our grief. Sometimes we laughed through our tears at the silly things our loved ones had done or said. Other times we’d share a special memory or tell a story that made us feel close to them again. I discovered that there’s healing in tears, but there’s also healing in laughter. My pastor’s words gave me permission to experience them both in my journey through grief.

Excerpt from “10 Scriptures About Death to Comfort” by Lori Hatcher

Gregory Coles is the author of Single, Gay, Christian and an English instructor at Penn State University. Learn more at or follow him on Facebook.

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how to pray at a funeral

1 – Say first Takbeer (‘Allahu Akbar’) and raise both hands up to your earlobes and then place your right hand over your left hand

2 – Seek refuge from the Shaytan (devil)

I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Shaitan

3 – Recite Surah Al-Fatihah followed by a short surah or part of a surah

In the name of Allah , the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful. praise is to Allah , Lord of the worlds – The Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful, Sovereign of the Day of Recompense. It is You we worship and You we ask for help. Guide us to the straight path – The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked anger or of those who are astray.

4 – Say second Takbeer. You can either choose to raise your hands again up to your earlobes or leave them as is. Both are permissible.

5 – Recite Darood on Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as one does at the end of the prayer

O Allah, let Your Peace come upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, as you have brought peace to Ibrahim and his family. Truly, You are Praiseworthy and Glorious. Allah, bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, as you have blessed Ibrahim and his family. Truly, You are Praiseworthy and Glorious.

6 – Say third Takbeer. You can either choose to raise your hands again up to your earlobes or leave them as is. Both are permissible.

7 – Make supplication (du’a) for the deceased. There are a number of recommended supplications from the Prophet (pbuh). Click here to view them. Following is one of the most popular:

‘O Allah, forgive our living and our dead, those present and those absent, our young and our old, our males and our females. O Allah, whom among us You keep alive, then let such a life be upon Islam, and whom among us You take unto Yourself, then let such a death be upon faith. O Allah, do not deprive us of his reward and do not let us stray after him’.

8 – Say fourth Takbeer and pause for a little while. You can either choose to raise your hands again up to your earlobes or leave them as is. Both are permissible. Some scholars say to recite general supplications for yourself, family, friends, and all Muslims during this period.

9 – Then end by saying one Tasleem to the right (‘Assalaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmat-Allaah’). Doing it on both sides as in regular prayer is also ok.


Arriving at the Funeral Behaving During the Service Attending a Religious Funeral Questions & Answers Related Articles References

This article was co-authored by

Trudi Griffin, LPC

. Trudi Griffin is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Wisconsin. She received her MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marquette University in 2011.

There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

Whether you are attending a funeral for the first time, or haven’t been to one in years, there are a few general rules and guidelines to abide by. When attending a funeral, remember to arrive early, dress in darker colors, and offer your condolences to the family. However, if you are attending a religious funeral whose customs you are not familiar with, researching the denomination’s customs beforehand will help you feel more at ease when attending the funeral.

Method 1 Arriving at the Funeral

  1. how to pray at a funeral Dress conservatively.

    When attending a funeral, always dress conservatively. Do not wear flashy outfits, bright colors, baggy clothing, or low-cutting blouses or dresses. You do not have to wear all black, but at least dress in darker colors, like dark blues, greens, and grays. As a general rule of thumb, dress business casual when attending funerals.

    • Remember, a funeral is not the right time to make a fashion statement.
    • However, if the dresscode states no black, avoid the colour entirely- men can still wear black trousers.
  2. how to pray at a funeral Arrive early.

    Try to attend the funeral 10 minutes early. This will enable you to find seating and sign the guest book. If you sign the guest book, be sure to sign your first and last name; you can also state your relationship to the deceased, e.g., friend, coworker, colleague, or teammate.

  3. how to pray at a funeral

    Don’t sit in the front rows. In general, the first several rows of seating are usually reserved for immediate family members, relatives, and close friends. If you are not a close friend, family, or relative, sit in the middle or in the back of the venue.

Method 2 Behaving During the Service

  1. how to pray at a funeral Turn off distractions.

    It is recommended that you either keep your phone on silent in your purse or your pocket, or completely turn off your phone. You do not want to interrupt the service with a ringing cell phone.

    • It is also considered poor taste to be on social media during a funeral, like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Snapchat.
    • Photography, unless authorized, is usually disapproved of during the funeral service. At the reception following the service, it may be okay to take photos if you are close to the family, especially if you haven’t seen them in awhile. Ask before you snap a picture, and watch what others are doing.
  2. how to pray at a funeral Offer your condolences to the family.

    It is appropriate, and welcomed, for you to offer your condolences to the family. There are various ways to offer your condolences, but the conventional thing to do is to either send or bring flowers to the funeral, or you can verbally express your sincerest sympathies to the bereaved. The important thing is to act in a reserved manner. This means keeping your emotions in check, avoiding slang, and using a somber tone of voice.

    • For example, when you approach the family, move at a slower pace than you might normally, keeping your facial expression neutral. In your most serious tone, say, “I’m so sorry for your loss. We’re all going to miss her.”
    • Before bringing flowers to a funeral, check with the family members or with the funeral director if it is appropriate.
    • You can offer your sympathies by saying, “I am very sorry for your loss” or “I am here for you and your family if you need anything.” If you are at a loss for words, you can simply offer a hug or bring a sympathy card.
  3. how to pray at a funeral Don’t be afraid to grieve.

    It is OK and acceptable to cry at funerals. Crying is a healthy, normal response. However, if you begin to cry uncontrollably or feel like you’re about to experience a strong emotional reaction, excuse yourself until you can

    regain your composure


  4. how to pray at a funeral Listen respectfully to the eulogy.

    While eulogies are a common procedure at funerals, not all funerals have eulogies. For example, in Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, eulogies are discouraged. However, if you are attending a funeral where someone gives a eulogy, listen respectfully to the eulogy. If you are distracted while the eulogy is taking place, others might take offense to this.

    • Generally, laughing at funerals is unacceptable unless it is warranted. An occasion for when laughing is warranted is when the eulogizer recounts a funny memory about the deceased. However, stay on the safe side by following the family’s lead.
  5. how to pray at a funeral View the open casket only if you are comfortable.

    Some services might have an open casket. If this makes you uncomfortable, you are under no obligation to approach the casket. If you do want to approach the open casket, but think you might become emotional, consider asking someone to walk with you to the casket.

Method 3 Attending a Religious Funeral

  1. how to pray at a funeral Learn about the religion’s customs beforehand.

    There are times when you might find yourself attending a religious funeral, where you are unfamiliar with the religion’s customs. In order to avoid embarrassing or inappropriate situations, do some research beforehand on the different customs for that religion. For example, it is unconventional to bring flowers to a Jewish funeral.

    For Catholic funerals, it is conventional to send a mass card to the family of the deceased.

  2. how to pray at a funeral Do what others do.

    If you are unsure about what is appropriate at a funeral service, do what others do; stand when people stand, and sit when people sit. It helps if you sit at the back of the venue so you can follow the other’s lead.

  3. how to pray at a funeral

    Don’t take offense by religion. Remember, you do not have to do anything you are uncomfortable with. If you are attending a religious funeral whose denomination you are not a member of, you do not have to sing or pray with everyone. Instead, bow your head in a respectful manner as if you are reflecting.

Community Q&A

Add New Question

  • Question

    I am going to my boyfriend’s family member’s funeral tomorrow, and my boyfriend told me I should wear bright clothing. I don’t know if I really should or not. I don’t really know the person, so I find it quite awkward. What should I do?


    Community Answer

    If your boyfriend says that you should and his family members would wish it so, then yes. You should wear bright clothes, just not neon or anything like that. It is still a funeral.

  • Question

    If a family member were to die, can I wear an outfit that the person liked on me?

    Yes. That would be a great way to honour the deceased.

  • Question

    How am I meant to handle my grief during the service? I just find it somewhat uncomfortable to go to a funeral service without getting slightly teary too.

    You don’t need to “handle your grief” at a funeral. Crying is perfectly acceptable and you won’t be the only person doing so. Indeed, some people may be surprised at someone trying to hold it all in.

  • Question

    Can I bring my dog to a funeral?

    Most likely not, unless the dog is a service dog. If this is just a normal dog, it would be best to leave him home, unless you’ve asked the family and funeral home for permission, and they granted it to you.

  • Question

    If I have anxiety towards churches, how do I contain it?

    It depends on how bad your anxiety is. If you get panic attacks that are debilitating, maybe you should consider not going to the funeral, and attend the graveside service instead. You can always send a sympathy card to the family telling them that you cannot make the funeral because of health problems. They will understand. On the other hand, if your anxiety is not extreme, you can contain it by taking a few deep breaths to calm yourself before you enter. You should also sit near the back of the church in case you need to excuse yourself. But remember, you do not need to participate in the church’s traditions, like singing hymns or praying. You can always listen respectfully and bow your head instead.

  • Question

    I am a 13 year old female who will be attending my grandmother’s funeral. What shoes should I wear if I am going to wear a black bubble dress?

    Since your dress is black, I would recommend wearing black shoes, or shoes that are darker colors.

  • Question

    Is it ever okay to call out or praise a speaker or songstress at a funeral?

    Not while they’re singing. Wait until they’re finished to avoid possible fighting.

  • Question

    My classmate recently died in a car crash and I’m attending his funeral soon. He was only 14, and I get very emotional thinking about him. What do I do if I can’t regain composure?

    It’s okay if you’re crying. Funerals are a very emotive time, and many others will also be crying, especially considering that he passed away at such a young age.

  • Question

    The deceased wanted ‘Someday My Prince Will Come’ from Snow White played at the funeral. It’s a happy song so should it be played?

    If it was the deceased’s wishes, then it should be played at some point. Perhaps during the beginning or at the end.

  • Question

    What can I do if a person that does not speak English wants to give a speech?

    Try finding a translator to repeat the lines of the person in English after they’ve spoken in their language.

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  • Do bring your children to the funeral. Prepare them emotionally beforehand by telling them what to expect. However, if you have very young children, it might be better to have someone look over them while you attend the funeral.
  • Let people have their personal space. If there is an event after the funeral, some people might not feel like having a conversation. Respect this.

Article Info

This article was co-authored by Trudi Griffin, LPC. Trudi Griffin is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Wisconsin. She received her MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marquette University in 2011.

Categories: Death Etiquette | Funerals

In other languages:

Español: actuar en un funeral, Русский: вести себя на похоронах, Português: Se Comportar em um Funeral, Italiano: Comportarsi a un Funerale

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