Funeral Etiquette 101: A Guide for Widows

May 15, 2020 by

The most important thing to keep in mind after losing a loved one is that there is no right or wrong way to grieve their death. The second most important thing to remember is that not many people quite know what to expect, how to act, or what to say at a funeral. Funerals are often uncomfortable, and that’s okay. Here we’ll go over some etiquette tips for those who’ve lost a spouse.

Before the Funeral

The time between your spouse’s death and the funeral is often overwhelming, not only have you just lost your spouse, but now you’ve also got to plan a funeral.

Before you can start planning the funeral, you have to notify your immediate family about their passing. This is obviously a sensitive time, and it is important to be mindful of what you say and how you tell them, as they are likely to remember what you said for years to come.

You aren’t personally responsible for notifying all of your friends and family. You just need to focus on the people you’re closest to: your children, your and your spouse’s parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, and any family members with whom your spouse had a close relationship.


When it finally comes time to plan the funeral, much of this is dependent upon the plans your spouse made prior to their death, as well as personal preference, religious belief, and culture. At this time, the only opinions that truly matter are the ones belonging to you and your spouse.

Whether you are planning a burial or a cremation, you still have plenty of options. Websites like offer an abundance of great resources regarding Veterans benefits, Social Security benefits, cremation services, and ways to best honor the life of your loved one. Resources like this can be invaluable during this difficult time—not only ensuring you are in the best hands, but that you receive the benefits you are entitled to upon the death of your spouse.

During the Funeral

We’ve already mentioned that many people don’t know what to say at a funeral, and some may even turn to you for comfort or reassurance. The best thing you can do is say “thank you,” accept their hugs and condolences, and be as gracious as you can for their sympathy and attendance—even if you don’t particularly like how they’ve expressed their grief.

You don’t owe it to anyone to divulge details into your spouse’s illness, death, or final days. It is up to you to say as little or as much you are comfortable sharing.

Your spouse’s dignity and your final memories do not have to be tainted for the sake of someone else’s curiosity.


After the Funeral

The days following the funeral can sometimes be the hardest. This is usually the first time since your spouse’s death that you are not surrounded by friends and family, making it the first time you’ve been made to deal with this loss on your own. This new normal will probably take some time to get used to.

During this time, you may find yourself inundated with gifts, cards, flowers, and casseroles, which you may be grateful for or you may want to put straight in the trash. It’s all up to you; take however much time you need, and then some.

During this time you may want to go through some of your shared personal belongings, like photo albums and keepsakes. This is the perfect time to organize all of your most important photos in an online photo manager. This ensures you’ll always have these images at your fingertips so you can look back on memories without fear of ever losing them.

The death of a loved one is always an uncertain time, especially when dealing with the death of a spouse. We are sorry for your loss.

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