What to Expect When You Attend a Graveside Service

A graveside service is held at a cemetery, near the interment space. It may also be referred to as a committal ceremony or service, as the decedent’s body is being committed to the earth. A graveside service may be held after funeral rites at the Funeral Home or a house of worship, or it may be the sole ceremony for the decedent. Customs can vary, but you can generally expect the following.

Arriving at the Cemetery

Always arrive a little early for a graveside service. Dress formally and respectfully, as if you were attending a service in a house of worship. Ladies should avoid shoes with narrow high heels, as these can sink into the bare ground. Leave your cell phone in your car. It’s a smart idea to add a travel-size pack of tissues to your purse or pocket. Even if you don’t need them, someone else may. At some cemetery services, there will be chairs set up. If so, wait until the bereaved family and any elderly mourners have taken seats before sitting down.

Serving as a Pallbearer

It’s an honor to be asked to serve as a pallbearer. If you accept this honor, you must arrive quite early for the ceremony, as you will receive specific instructions upon your arrival. You’ll be told where to stand and when to escort the casket from the coach to the interment space. Don’t hesitate to speak with the attendant or the funeral director if you have any questions about your responsibilities.

Paying Your Respects

The officiant may do a reading or recite prayers. Some committal ceremonies involve prayers recited or songs sung by the group. And in some traditions, the mourners are expected to give certain responses at certain points in the ceremony. If you’re familiar with the custom and you feel comfortable doing so, you may participate. Otherwise, simply stand quietly and listen. After the casket has been lowered into the grave, the family members may line up to ceremoniously place dirt in the grave. You may join the line if you wish. Place the shovel back in the dirt after you’ve performed this rite, rather than handing it to the next mourner.

For over a century, Inglewood Park Cemetery has served as the final resting place for loved ones. Our interment spaces available in the Los Angeles area are nestled within beautiful landscaping features. Call (310) 412-6500 if you have any questions about our cemetery.

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