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How do I look cool at a funeral?

Going to a funeral can be an emotional and solemn event. While it’s important to show respect for the deceased and their grieving loved ones, you may also want to maintain your composure and avoid looking awkward or out of place. With some preparation and a cool demeanor, you can pay your respects gracefully while making a good impression on other attendees.

Dress Appropriately

The first step to looking cool at a funeral is dressing in appropriate attire. You’ll want to avoid anything too casual, loud or revealing. Stick to formal wear in somber colors like black, charcoal gray or navy blue. Some dress code guidelines include:

  • Men should wear a dark suit and tie, with dress shoes and socks.
  • Women can wear a conservative dress, skirt suit or pant suit. Avoid short hemlines or low necklines.
  • Minimal jewelry and accessories are best. Avoid large or flashy jewelry.
  • Make sure clothes are neatly pressed with no missing buttons or tears.

You don’t need to wear the most expensive designer funeral outfit, but neat, clean and modest clothes signal you understand the tone of the event. Throwing on wrinkled or ill-fitting items looks sloppy. Take some time to choose and prepare an appropriate funeral ensemble that projects sophistication.

Mind Your Manners

Funerals often involve greeting family members and strangers while navigating delicate social situations. Minding your manners can help you appear gracious and refined, rather than awkward. Some etiquette tips include:

  • Send condolences to the family ahead of time via a sympathy card or letter.
  • Avoid over-the-top emotions, outbursts or unwanted touches if you don’t know the deceased or their family personally.
  • Wait for family members to speak with you first instead of rushing up to them.
  • Avoid sensitive topics that might upset grieving loved ones.
  • Silence cell phones and avoid taking calls, pictures or videos during services.
  • Follow the lead of the family if you attend additional gatherings after the funeral service.

Minding your manners shows sensitivity and maturity, allowing you to focus on honoring the deceased rather than worrying about etiquette faux pas.

Display Appropriate Body Language

Your body language also contributes to a cool demeanor at a funeral. Avoid fidgeting, slouching or other distracting movements. Stand or sit upright at services and gatherings to portray confidence. Keep your voice low and movements slow. Clasp your hands in front or fold them in your lap rather than crossing your arms tightly across your chest. Make eye contact and give consoling nods when expressing sympathies. Subtle body language signals respect and poise.

Remain Composed

It’s normal to feel a range of emotions like grief, anxiety or awkwardness at funerals. But resist the urge to display these feelings openly through dramatic outbursts or reactions. Take deep breaths to stay calm and composed. Focus on fond memories if you feel tears welling up. Follow the lead of family members in displaying emotion. Don’t feel obligated to share stories or sentiments about the deceased unless close family and friends ask you directly. Staying composed avoids becoming the center of attention.

Avoid Touchy Subjects

Funerals and their accompanying gatherings are not the time or place for controversial topics. Don’t go into detail about the deceased’s cause of death, conflicts they had or sensitive family matters. Avoid making comments about politics, religion or other polarizing issues that could offend. Keep the focus on celebrating the deceased’s life and supporting their loved ones. Steering clear of touchy subjects allows you to come across as tactful and sensitive.

Be There for Support

While funerals center around the deceased, they exist primarily to comfort grieving loved ones. Discreetly offering support shows thoughtfulness. Offer sincere condolences and emphasize happy memories you have of the deceased if applicable. Ask if there is anything you can do for the family now or in the coming days as they adjust to their loss. Don’t overstep if your relationship was not close, but find small, appropriate ways to assist and reassure grieving relatives and friends.

When to Use Humor

Humor may seem inappropriate at a funeral. A few tasteful, mild jokes told only to close family and friends can lighten the mood and reaffirm positive memories. Read the room before attempting lighthearted comments. Know your audience and make sure any humor focuses on celebrating the deceased, not mocking the circumstances. Funny remarks or stories may be comforting among the deceased’s inner circle, but avoid comedy bits with those outside it.

Mingle With Others

Funerals present opportunities to connect with and console others. Offer support through listening, reminiscing together about the deceased or discussing the service. Avoid dominating conversations to keep the focus on attendees in mourning. If you only knew the deceased casually, stick to polite small talk and let family members guide discussions. Brief, thoughtful interactions allow you to demonstrate empathy.

Send Thank You Notes

Send thoughtful thank you cards or gifts to the family of the deceased in the days after the funeral. Hand-written notes letting them know you share in their grief and appreciate their efforts planning the service show you cared to honor their loved one. Tasteful gestures like sending flowers, donating to a charity the deceased supported or bringing the family food demonstrates ongoing compassion.


Attending memorial services may feel intimidating, but you can maintain grace under pressure with the right funeral etiquette. Dress tastefully, mind your manners, display appropriate body language, remain composed, avoid touchy subjects, provide support, use humor judiciously, interact politely with others and follow up with thanks and condolences. With sensitivity and composure, you can pay respects and lend comfort while leaving a cool impression. Focus on honoring the deceased and assisting their loved ones during this difficult time.