Join Robbie's Blog RSS


Illness & Death
Illness & Death

Buy the Books
All Books Available Now As eBooks!

Recommended By

“Kaplan has written a book that should be a staple of every medical school’s curriculum.  It’s a must for student doctors, and those advanced in their training. Not only does Kaplan include examples of how and what to say (and perhaps more importantly, what NOT to say), but practical tips on what to DO. ‘Tips’ in bold, scattered throughout each section, offer quick, practical suggestions when the reader is pressed for time.”

Barbara M. Mackie, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor at VCU School of Medicine and Georgetown University School of Medicine

Visitation Etiquette
Visitation Etiquette
PDF Print E-mail

It’s easy to feel uncomfortable when you don’t know what to expect and that’s what happened to a young woman who recently attended a visitation. While waiting in the receiving line, she became anxious and asked those around her what to say and what to do.

Visitations and funerals are not the same but they usually go hand in hand. The visitation is a little less formal than the funeral and it’s an opportunity to provide support to the bereaved and spend some time visiting and speaking with the family. Funerals don’t afford that interaction. Some people go to the visitation and the funeral but if they can’t attend the funeral, they may attend the visitation.

The death notice usually provides information on the visitation, or, you can call the funeral home. Visitations are often in the evening and sometimes there are two sessions; one in the later afternoon and one in the evening. You may encounter a receiving line or, the bereaved may be sitting down. There may or may not be a casket and if there is a casket, it may or may not be open, usually dependent on the customs of the bereaved. There is usually no food.

What do you say and do? The bereaved have so much on their minds so remember to sign the guest book when entering so the bereaved will know you attended. You can give each person in the receiving line a warm clasp with your hand while introducing yourself with your name and relation to the deceased; add “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

If you have attended the visitation, the funeral, and/or reception and signed the guest book, it is also appropriate to write a condolence note. Condolence messages are truly appreciated and it’s a good feeling to know you’ve made a difference.