Cemetery Etiquette

A cemetery is a unique place.  While it is part of the everyday scene, it is not part of everyday life.             That is to say, it is a place where tranquility and quiet are the desired norm, and activities of               everyday life should be suspended.


Don't Go After Hours

Cemeteries have hours posted for a reason.  They'll typically open at dawn and close at dusk.  Be respectful to the deceased and also to the employees, and schedule your visit within posted hours.


Don't Speed Through The Cemetery Driveways

If you're driving into a cemetery, drive carefully.  Sometimes there is a posted speed limit.  If not, go about 10 MPH and even slower if you see a funeral service or gathering nearby.

Drive slowly and obey any traffic signs posted in the cemetery.  Be careful to avoid any people since they might be upset and not paying complete attention to where they are going.

Respectful Children

Don't Let Your Kids Run Free

Talk to your children ahead of time.  Teach them manners and common courtesy.  No running, yelling, or rolling around on the ground.  Don't let them play on any of the monuments.  Visiting a cemetery is a great way to teach children about respect for the dead and those who are mourning.

If your kids can be respectful, then by all means bring them along.  It's important for them to get a grasp of history and they'll ask all sorts of questions that will help them understand the reality of death, but without fear.


Don't Walk On Top Of The Graves

When you're at the cemetery, it's important to be respectful to the remains of the deceased.  Cemeteries, after all, are one of the ways we remain civilized - by showing proper care and respect for the dead.

One common ritual is to avoid walking on top of the graves where people are actually buried.  You can get close, especially when trying to read a headstone.  Walk in between the headstones, and don't stand on top of a burial place.


Don't Sit Or Lean On The Headstones, Grave Markers, Or Other Memorials

It's not very respectful.  They are very meaningful to the families who placed them there.  If you are planning on being there a long time, bring a little travel chair.  In addition, some older monuments might be in disrepair and could fall apart or over under the slightest touch.


Don't Go To The Cemetery Expecting To Talk To Other Cemetery Visitors

You can nod and smile and if it's clear that this other person is friendly and wants to talk then by all means say hi and have a discussion.  But have your default etiquette in place ahead of time.  The people you see in the cemetery will often be grieving.  Try your best to avoid breaking their reverie, or alone time, or ritual of talking to their loved one, or prayers, or whatever they are doing.

Plan on avoiding contact and conversation, but be ready to be friendly if they appear to be ready and willing to engage.

No Glass

Don't Leave Glass, Ceramic, Or Other Breakable Items On The Grave

They will break.  Maybe not right away, if you are careful in setting it up, but they will break eventually.  And someone (cough, cough . . .  a grounds crew employee . . . cough) will have to clean it up.

If they don't spot the broken item right away, kids might pick it up and cut themselves or it could harm animals or become a projectile when the cemetery crew is mowing.  Just don't do it.


Don't Put Up Multiple Solar Lights, Plastic Fences/Boarders And Items That Are Not Allowed

You see, someone, at some point, eventually has to mow the grass.  Be considerate and don't create extra work for the grounds crew. They will likely be as respectful to you as possible, and if the item is allowed, will often move or go around these item to mow and/or weed wack. 

This is tremendously time consuming and a great hindrance considering the size of most cemeteries.


Don't Use The Cemetery For Your Pets Restroom And Don't Litter

Just . . . think about what you are doing.  This creates extra work for the grounds crew and shows disrespect to the other families who come to mourn their loved ones.  

If a cemetery allows you to walk your pet on their grounds be sure to keep your dog on a leash at all times and have a bag to collect any droppings.  Dispose of bag in a receptacle not in the bushes or on the side of the road.  Don't let your pet go to the bathroom next to a head stone or on a grave.  Someone's loved one is buried there.  "Pack your trash" is a good rule of thumb; take your refuse with you when you go or put in a trash receptacle.


Don't Make Out Or Get Frisky

This, too, should be obvious.  It's disrespectful to the deceased and to those who are grieving.  Same thing goes for the employees of a cemetery- no one wants to see that in their workplace.