Cemetery Etiquette

A Guide to Proper Cemetery Etiquette & What Not To Do In a Cemetery


Cemeteries are solemn places filled with things that remind us of the inevitable. We visit them to say goodbye, remember those who have died, and honor their memory. However, cemetery etiquette is different from normal etiquette because it's more about respecting the spirit of the cemetery rather than being polite to other people. This article will give you a guide to cemetery etiquette so you can behave respectfully when visiting one for any occasion. 


When visiting a cemetery, there are a number of basic rules you should keep in mind in order to show respect to both the living and the dead. These tips will help to keep you out of trouble and make sure you and your fellow visitors enjoy a courteous, peaceful experience.


Tip #1. Follow cemetery rules and regulations


Each cemetery is different, so be sure to check the posted rules before entering. Many cemeteries do not allow picnicking, playing games, or running. Also observe any floral regulations they might have set.


Tip #2. Follow the hours


Most cemeteries are closed at night, so make sure you visit during business hours. Try not to remain in the cemetery after dark to avoid being charged with trespassing. If a cemetery is open to visitors 24/hrs per day, they will post this information on the cemetery website or in the cemetery itself.


Tip #3. Drive with care


When driving through a cemetery, be sure to drive slowly and watch for pedestrians. Some cemetery roads might be narrow, so use caution when passing other cars or offer to move your car until the other driver can get through when another car approaches. If you are parking in the cemetery, park in designated areas only and never block any roads or pathways.


Tip #4. Respect the graves


When visiting a cemetery, always respect the graves. People have put lots of time and money into creating beautiful grave markers for their loved ones' final resting places, so it is important to not disturb any stones or objects in memory of the deceased person. Don't touch any monuments or headstones; this is not only disrespectful but may cause damage to the memorials, especially older ones. Never remove anything from a gravestone, such as flowers, coins, or tributes that have been left by family.


Tip #5. Look after your children


If you bring children, make sure to keep a close eye on them and keep them from running, yelling, and playing or climbing on graves and monuments. Teach them to act in a respectful and considerate manner. It is better to educate them on the correct cemetery etiquette beforehand than to try and explain why they should not do something after the fact.


Tip #6. Speak softly and politely


Be respectful of other mourners and visitors by speaking softly and politely. There is no need to raise your voice or be boisterous in a cemetery. Remember that many people are there to pay their respects and find solace, so show some consideration for them.


Tip #7. Lower or turn off your phone


If you brought your phone with you, turn off the ringer or put it on silent. If you must use your phone, do so in a cemetery office or car if one is available. Do not answer texts during the service and be sure to keep conversations brief as everyone within earshot will notice what you are doing.


Tip #8. Be respectful of services and other mourners


 If a funeral service is occurring, take care not to get in the way of processions. Never take photos of strangers at a funeral or visiting a gravesite; it is extremely disrespectful to them in their time of grief. Respect their privacy and give them their space. 


If you are visiting a cemetery and see someone else there, be sure to greet them and introduce yourself. Ask if they need help finding a particular grave or locating something on the grounds. If they do not want to talk, respect their wishes and leave them alone. Do not engage in conversations with strangers at cemeteries.


Tip #9. Never leave your trash behind


Litter creates extra work for the caretakers and is disrespectful to both other visitors and those who are buried there. Use designated receptacles, if they are provided, or hang onto your trash and take it with you when you leave.


Tip #10. Leash your pets


Some cemeteries allow pets on the grounds, but many do not. If you must bring your pet, make sure that it is leashed and under control at all times to avoid scaring or harming visitors or making a mess off cemetery property.


Things not to do in a cemetery


  • Don't walk on top of graves.
  • Don't sit or lean on headstones and other memorials.
  • Don't leave food on the headstones.
  • Don't make out.
  • Don't take photos without permission.
  • Don't blow horn in the cemetery.


There are quite a few etiquette that you should know when visiting a cemetery and if you want to know more, get in touch with O'Riley - Branson Funeral Service & Crematory by calling (317) 787-8224. We also have resources for funeral etiquette available for you.