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.
Follow the Rules
Most cemeteries have a sign posted near the entrance listing rules specific to the property. Follow the rules and observe any floral regulations they might have set.
Obey the Hours
Most cemeteries are open from dawn until dusk. Try not to remain in the cemetery after dark to avoid being charged with trespassing.
Drive with Care
Make sure to follow the roadways and remain off the grass. Drive slowly, and watch out for people who might not be paying attention. If the lane is narrow and another car approaches, offer to move your car until the other driver can get through.
Watch Your Step
Upon arrival, approach the family and express your sympathy with an embrace or by offering your hands. Don’t feel that you should avoid talking about the person who has died…in fact, talking can help the grieving process to begin.
Respect the Graves
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.
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.
Speak Softly & Politely
Be respectful to other mourners: remember to keep your voice down when having conversations, and avoid using bad language.
Lower the Volume
If you choose to bring it with you, take a moment to ensure that your cellphone is turned off. Avoid having phone conversations, as voices tend to carry in open spaces. Make sure to turn off your car stereo while driving or parking in the cemetery.
Be Respectful of Services and Other Mourners
If a funeral 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.
Don’t Leave 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.
Leash Your Pets
Some cemeteries allow pets on their grounds. Before you bring your pet along, check to make sure it’s not against the rules, and keep them on a leash at all times.