Cemetery Etiquette: Eight Things You Need to Know

U.S. flag at cemetery conveying cemetery etiquette

When you attend a funeral, there’s a code of conduct that should be followed.

You may not give it much thought but there are also rules of etiquette that apply when you visit the cemetery. To maintain a serene, well-maintained environment, it’s important to familiarize yourself with standard cemetery protocol. Read on for eight etiquette tips to ensure that everyone who visits can enjoy a courteous, peaceful experience.

  1. Start by learning the rules.
    Most cemeteries are run privately and have specific regulations and guidelines. These rules are usually posted near the entrance, along with cemetery hours, so review them as you enter. In most cases, you can also learn about them in advance by visiting the cemetery’s website. Some of the more advanced sites even allow you to search for your loved one’s location and provide a detailed map of the cemetery.
  2. Demonstrate respect for other mourners.
    If burial services are taking place, don’t intrude on the procession and committal. If possible, find an alternate route to your destination. Respect the family’s privacy, give them plenty of space, and don’t gawk. It’s also a good idea to turn your cell phone ringer off or to vibrate mode. If you must have a conversation, speak in a hushed tone. 
  3. Drive with courtesy. When you arrive at the cemetery, operate your vehicle with caution and watch for grieving funeral attendees who may not be paying attention. Follow the paved roadways and never drive on the grass. If the lane is narrow and another car approaches, move your car to the side so the other driver can get through. Always remain calm and be polite—this isn’t the place for road rage.
  4. Be respectful of the graves.
    As you make your way through the cemetery, walk between the headstones and never tread on the graves. Touching headstones is extremely disrespectful and can even cause damage. Older memorials are often very fragile and could crumble with the slightest touch. They are also quite expensive and may even be irreplaceable, so never sit or lean on them.
  5. Don’t litter.
    If you brought funeral flowers, unwrapped an arrangement, or created debris of any kind, be sure to clean it up before you leave. Most cemeteries place trashcans in accessible locations, so do your part to keep your loved one’s final resting place in pristine condition. 
  6. Photograph the scenery, not the people.
    Taking pictures of old gravestones or beautiful trees is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon, but make sure you exclude any visitors or funeral attendees. 
  7. Always leash your pets.
    Before you bring your animal companions to the cemetery, check to make sure it’s permissible. Keep them on a leash at all times and be sure to clean up after them.
  8. Share these cemetery etiquette rules with everyone in your party.
    If you’re visiting a cemetery with friends and family, explain the protocol to them. It may their first time visiting a cemetery and sharing your knowledge can make the visit more comfortable for everyone. If you’re bringing children, discuss in advance where you’re going and what they can expect when they arrive. Keep a close eye on young children and don’t permit them to run, shout, or play on the graves and monuments.

Cemeteries are places of tranquility and serenity. There, the activities of everyday life should be suspended. A good rule of thumb: Behave in the cemetery as you would in a church.

If you have questions or want to learn more about proper cemetery etiquette, please contact us anytime. Our supportive team members are always here to assist you.

About Evan W. Smith Funeral Services: Since 2009, residents of Wilmington, Dover, and the surrounding Delaware community have relied on the caring staff at Evan W. Smith Funeral Services to help them through their darkest hours. Family-owned and operated, the company offers an array of elite funeral care services, including traditional funerals, cremations, memorials, pre-planning, and more. With decades of experience in caring for families from all cultural backgrounds and diverse walks of life, Evan W. Smith Funeral Services is committed to creating memorable, uplifting experiences that always exceed expectations. For more information, please visit www.ewsmithfs.com.

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