Funeral Etiquette

General Information

What to Wear

Formal clothes are recommended and most respectful, unless noted otherwise by the family. In general, jeans, flip flops and casual day-to-day wear is not considered appropriate in most circumstances. Wearing all black is no longer the standard, and colorful clothing is often used.

Greeting the Family

Upon arrival, approach the family and express your sympathy. Don't feel that you should avoid talking about the person who has passed, in fact, talking can help the grieving process to begin. However, it is not generally appropriate to ask how someone died. The decision of whether or not to approach the casket is an individual one. It is not required or considered rude if you decide against it. If you decide to approach the casket, use that time to say your goodbyes and pay your respects. Keep in mind that there are often long lines to follow, and everyone deserves their moment with the deceased. What to Say It is important to clearly identify yourself to the family. Express your sympathy in your own words. Kind words about the loved one, and a simple "I'm sorry for your loss" or "My thoughts and prayers are with you" can be meaningful and comforting for the bereaved. It is not appropriate to inquire as to the cause of death unless broached first by the family. Statement of condolences include: "My sympathy to you." “Our condolences to you and your family.” "It was good to know John." "John was a fine person and friend. He will be missed." "My sympathy to you and your mother."

Signing the Register

If you choose to sign the register book, use your full name so that the family can identify you. It's also helpful to add information about how you knew the deceased: through work, social clubs, school, etc. Families will often send a thank you note using this information.

Flowers & Gifts

It is completely up to you and depends on the closeness of your relationship with the family or the deceased. You can send flowers to the funeral home prior to the funeral. A donation or memorial gift are all meaningful gestures to let the bereaved know that they are in your thoughts. The simplest of tributes can be of great comfort to the family and can express your sympathy when words just aren't enough. The family is notified of the gifts by a personal note from the charity or other organization. Even if you don't make a gift, a note or card to the deceased's family expressing your thoughts of the deceased is a welcome gesture, especially if you weren't able to attend the funeral.

Turn Off Your Cellphone

If you choose to bring your phone into the funeral home, take a moment to make sure you've turned it off or on silent.

Cemetery Etiquette

General Information

Follow the Rules

Most cemeteries have signs posted listing rules specific to the property. Follow the rules and observe any floral regulations. Administrative buildings usually have copies of any rules and regulations.

Respect the Graves

Do not step on any memorial markers. This is not only disrespectful but may cause damage to the marker. Never remove anything from a gravestone, such as flowers, coins, or tributes that have been left by family.

What happens at the cemetery for a burial ceremony?

The casket is usually placed beside the grave, prior to mourners gather at the gravesite. People then gather around the casket to listen to any burial rites. Following any remarks, family members may place a flower or other tribute on the casket.

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.

Be Respectful of Services and Funeral-Goers If a burial is occurring, take care not to get in the way of processions. Never take photos of strangers at a funeral or gravesite. 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 visitors and those who are buried. Use designated receptacles 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 this is allowed and keep them on a leash at all times. Be sure to clean up after your pet just like you would in any public space.

Cemetery Items & Products

Grave openings, why does it cost so much?

The burial process is the most expensive individual operation of all a cemetery does. The physical digging of the grave is the most straightforward part. There are actually over 72 steps to making an interment. Backhoes and dump trucks are exceedingly expensive ($65,000 and $40,000 respectfully) as is the amount of manpower required. The effort involved in restoring the grave to its original appearance and repairing unavoidable damage caused to the surrounding turf area caused during an interment is extensive. If you come in two years later and report a grave has sunk, you expect us to repair it. This repair is a cost related to that original burial.

Who trims around markers? Who repairs sunken markers? Why is the finish on my marker turning green?

Trimming and general upkeep around bronze memorial markers is a family's responsibility. However, if you report a sunken marker or broken condition to the cemetery office we will see that it is lifted and reset. Any marker that is cracked or damaged will be repaired through the cemeteries endowment care fund on behalf of the family.

The green finish you are seeing on some bronze markers is Patina. Patina is the aging process of bronze which is the direct result of a union between bronze and chemicals in the environment. Different mixtures and climates vary the rate of development but the regular upkeep of markers is a general deterrent to this process.

I saw a bench along the road. Can I purchase one, too?

In addition to a normal bronze memorial grave marker, some families want to do something extra special. Memory benches, often with special engraving, have become very popular.

Custom designed stained-glass windows, how can I purchase one for my family?

There is a unique opportunity at Jefferson Memorial to design and purchase your own stained-glass window as a special tribute to your family and keep their legacy alive for generations to come. We have 11 such works in our cemetery. Speak to one of our advisors today to ask about this special opportunity.


I want to be cremated, but I want to have a visitation and funeral first, can I do that?

Yes, you can. In fact, most families do choose to have a visitation and funeral service followed by cremation. This is so common that we have created a funeral and cremation package listed here that is specifically tailored for families who make this choice at Jefferson Memorial Funeral Home.

What choices do I have for my remains after I’ve been cremated?

At Jefferson Memorial, memorialization means having a final resting where the mortal remains of someone important to us are interred and will be visited and remembered. Cremation, like traditional burial, should not be considered an end, but a beginning, as the first step in the process to create a lasting tribute and a place of honor for the present generation to pass on your story to the next generation. Most families wish to create a “Point of Remembrance” and therefore choose to inter the cremated remains in a cemetery. Whether you bury cremated remains in the ground or place cremated remains (called inurnment), in a niche, these memorialization options create a focal point for spouse, children and grandchildren to visit, place flowers and learn about their heritage.

Floral Regulations

Rules & Regulations. Why does a cemetery need them?

Our rules and regulations are designed for the protection of all plot owners and visitors at Jefferson Memorial. They are intended not as restraining, but rather as defining, an orderly plan of operation, care and maintenance. As such, they govern most aspects of our future relationship. With this understanding in mind, the plot owner and their visitors are requested to respect the enforcement of these rules and regulations. A copy of the Rules and Regulations is provided to the plot owner at the time of purchase. If you would like an updated copy, please come to the cemetery administration building and ask for one.

Floral Regulations for Mausoleums


1. Floral tributes of cut, natural flowers only are allowed inside the mausoleum and will be removed as soon as, in the sole judgment of the management, they become unsightly or diseased.

2, Potted plants are not permitted.

3. All flowers must be placed on the tables provided.

4. No item may be attached directly to the crypt fronts nor placed in front of a crypt.

5. Photographic images and personal cards may also be placed on the tables. Flower tables must be shared and personal items shall be removed at any time they infringe upon the rights of other visitors or thirty (30) days from their placement. The Corporation shall have no liability to any party for such items removed and disposed of

6. Flower rooms located within the building are available for use when arranging the bouquet.


1. All decorations other than fresh floral arrangements will be removed from crypt fronts on the following dates: March 1st, May 1st, August 1st and November 30th. We ask for your cooperation in helping to maintain the appearance of the building by limiting decorations to seasonal arrangements, removing them when they become unsightly, and limiting the use of artificial flowers from March 1st to November 30th.

2. No item (including photographs, cards or letters) may be attached directly to the granite crypt front. No wires, tape or hooks shall be attached to the exterior floral vase ring or bronze crypt front bar.

3. Christmas wreaths may be placed no earlier than December 1st provided they are on a tripod stand and placed on the outer edge of the sidewalk, away from the building. Due to the leaching of the paints, dyes and glues as well as the added weight of saturated materials, no wreath shall be attached to the crypt front, the bronze bar or the vase ring. The Corporation shall not be responsible for damage by the elements, thieves, vandals, animals or other causes beyond its control.

4. Vases are provided by Jefferson Memorial Park and are available inside the Jefferson Mausoleum building and also in the administration building. Flowers must be placed on the tables provided.

Floral Regulations for Ground Burials


1. Fresh cut flowers only are permitted from March 1st to November 30th. All decorations other than fresh cut flowers will be removed when we do any work in the area. This includes making burials, as well as the mowing of the grass, etc.

2. Wreaths and pine blankets may be placed no earlier than December 1st. They will be left until the spring clean-up March 1st.

3. The management shall have the authority to remove all flowers and floral designs as soon as, in the sole judgement of the management, they become unsightly, diseased or dangerous, or when they do not conform to the standards maintained in the entire cemetery.

4. The management reserves the right to regulate the method of decorating plots so that a uniform beauty may be maintained.

5. When floral decorations are removed from the gravesite; unless taken away from the cemetery by those lawfully entitled to them, they may be disposed of by the Corporation in any manner it sees fit.

6. The placing of anything other than floral decorations upon plots shall not be permitted; and, if so placed, will be removed and disposed of.

7. Balloons, glass blocks and vigil lights are not permitted.

8. No planting of flowers, shrubs or trees by lot owners is permitted.

9. Management prohibits the use of bronze vases during the snow season of November 30th to February 28th, as they are subject to damage by equipment or freezing water.

10. Special Holidays - Nonconforming decorations, including potted plants, will be temporarily permitted 3 days before and one week (7 days) after Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Veteran's Day.

11. Jefferson Memorial Park is not responsible for theft, or damage to anything placed on graves, lots or mausoleum crypts.

12. Funeral Flowers - The Corporation permits a total of three (3) baskets of flowers, casket sprays or any combination thereof, to be placed at the chapel doors or mausoleum chapel at the conclusion of the service and placed at the graveside. They will be removed three (3) days after the interment.

13. American Flags - To maintain the overall beauty of the cemetery by facilitating proper lawn maintenance and to remove the hazard to visitors by fallen and/or pointed standards and flag sticks and to protect the decorum of our flag by unattended flags falling to the ground, the American Flags placed for Memorial Day will be removed one week (7 days) after Independence Day.  Metal flag holders must be removed one week after Memorial Day as they become a danger to maintenance personnel if they fall over unseen.  American Flags will be available for placement one week (7 days) before Veterans Day and will be removed one week after Veterans Day.  Flags placed at any other time will be removed prior to the next mowing.  Any flag that has fallen to the ground or has become worn and unsightly will be removed, as well as flags may have to be removed in the normal course of maintenance or burials.

Funerals & Making Arrangements

What are cash advances?

Cash advances are third party items that are requested by families when making funeral arrangements in which the funeral home is advancing payment to the vendor on behalf of the family. Examples of cash advances are newspaper obituaries, death certificates, cremation permits, floral arrangements, clergy honorariums, and cemetery or crematory fees.

Irrevocable Agreements. Why would I make my contract irrevocable?

Families often choose to make their pre-planned funeral arrangements irrevocable to ensure that they turn countable assets into noncountable assets for Medicaid eligibility purposes. Not only can an irrevocable funeral contract be purchased for the Medicaid applicant, but also for immediate relatives such as spouses and children, further allowing “spend down” of countable assets. Each county in Pennsylvania has specifications as to how much may be set aside for funeral expenses. Some people also make their arrangements irrevocable to ensure that after their death, their family cannot change the type of service that was requested.

Why does the FTC mandate a Funeral Price List?

The Federal Trade Commission General Price List Format has been required to be used by all funeral homes in the United States since 1994. It affords the consumer the opportunity to compare prices easily since every funeral provider must present their pricing in the same way. A copy of our complete General Price List is available at the Funeral Home.

Embalming, is it required by law?

Embalming is a surgical procedure that accomplishes three goals: disinfection, preservation, and restoration. Embalming makes it possible to lengthen the time between death and the final disposition, thus allowing family members time to arrange and participate in the type of service most comforting to them. Except in certain special cases, embalming is not required by law. Embalming may be necessary, however, if you select certain funeral arrangements such as a funeral with viewing or when a cemetery requires embalming before entombment. If you do not want embalming, you usually have the right to choose an arrangement that does not require you to pay for it, such as direct cremation or immediate burial. Pennsylvania rules and regulations number 13.211A requires that any human remains held 24 hours beyond death be embalmed or sealed in a hermetically sealed container that will not allow fumes or odors to escape or shall be kept under refrigeration provided, however, that this does not conflict with any religious beliefs or medical examinations.

Identification Viewing. What type of viewing is that?

Identification Viewing means a brief, non-public viewing of the deceased by the next of kin or responsible party to identify the remains. Cremation laws are very strict when it comes to positive identification of the deceased. Jefferson Memorial asks each and every family to provide positive identification of the deceased before any burial, entombment or cremation.

General Questions

Hours of the Cemetery Grounds, Office and Mausoleum



8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. May 1st to Sept. 30th

8:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Oct. 1st to April 30th


9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. on Weekdays

9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. on Saturday


10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Monday thru Saturday

1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. on Sunday

(Closed on New Year's Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas)

Westminster Mausoleum Crypt, what is it?

A Westminster Crypt Chamber means a space in a mausoleum constructed to hold from two (2) to four (4) casketed human remains, which may be owned by one or more families or individuals. It may also be referred to as a Family Westminster or Triad depending on its arrangement.

Second Right's Fee, what is it?

All graves are sold with one burial right. Traditionally, single depth grave spaces hold one casket burial. However, at Jefferson Memorial each single depth grave space has the option to include one casketed burial plus one cremation. Alternatively, single grave space can include two cremations. When a second burial is to be added, a second right burial fee is incurred, thus giving you the opportunity to keep loved ones together.

Endowment Care, what is it?

From the purchase price of all plots sold, or from all plots sold, transferred, assigned, given, gifted, or inherited from a deeded owner to a new owner, Jefferson Memorial deposits amounts as specified by the Rules and Regulations or statute into the Endowment Care Fund.

Endowed care means that within the limits permitted by the income derived from the plot's Endowed Care Fund, the cemetery grounds will be maintained in keeping with a well-preserved memorial park.

Purchasing of Cemetery Property

Transferring unused cemetery property, non-personalized merchandise or services.

Generally, it is not difficult to transfer unused cemetery property, non-personalized merchandise, or services. Here are some general items that apply to all transfers:

All transfers must be recorded by Jefferson Memorial. In other words, you cannot just hand someone a deed and say they own it. The original deed and/or certificate of ownership must be presented before we can process a transfer. At the time of a transfer or sale, the cemetery will collect funds to be deposited into the Endowment Care Trust Fund. Property with existing interments cannot be transferred to a new owner. The deed must be split into two deeds: one for the new owners and one to the original owners, even if deceased.

Transfers at Jefferson Memorial include fees and charges. What we handle for you includes procedures and forms such as:

Deed Transfer Merchandise Certificate Heirs Release Affidavit Where/how to get a Death Certificate Where/how to get a Short Certificate, and more.

The two most common situations when transferring cemetery property:

Transfer by Living Owner(s) - If all living titled owners’ consent to the transfer, it is a simple matter. Gather your Deed and Certificate of Ownership and our advisors will guide you through the transfer procedures. Transfer When Owner(s) are Deceased - Unused burial property or merchandise are considered undistributed items of the estate of the deceased. Jefferson must comply with the laws of Pennsylvania.

Transfer of cemetery property (graves, lawn crypt, mausoleum, or niche) is governed by Title 20, the Pennsylvania Estate and Fiduciary Code. We recommend that you call us at (412) 655-4500 x 121 before beginning the transfer process so that we may walk you through the steps required.

Can I sell my cemetery property?

Yes, if you are the legal owner of these lots and listed on the deed, you are able to sell the property. The property can be sold to anyone you choose for any price you deem reasonable. Once you have a buyer located, you will need to contact our offices at Jefferson Memorial Park by calling us at (412) 655-4500 x 121 to make an appointment to have that deed legally transferred into the buyer’s name. Until such a time, no one who purchases the lot from you would legally own the lot until it is transferred and titled by one of our advisors. There will be processing costs, deed fees, and endowment care fees for the new owner.

Buying Back Property – will you buy back our graves?

Jefferson Memorial will not generally repurchase graves. If you purchased them many years ago, we might offer to repurchase them at your original purchase price. See the sections above on selling cemetery property and transferring unused cemetery property. In addition, many cemeteries participate in the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association Lot Exchange Plan. Using this plan, you may transfer the dollar credit (not lot for lot) of what was originally paid to be used toward your purchase at an ICCFA exchange participating cemetery. To learn more, visit the ICCFA website at www.iccfa.com to learn more about this option.

Buying cemetery or funeral arrangements ahead of time (pre-need) – why should I?

When you plan ahead, you will be able to compare the many options available. You will be able to compare services, products and package prices. You will have the opportunity to make an informed decision about your funeral and burial arrangements, and the form of memorial you prefer. You will be able to make choices that are meaningful to both you and your family, and you will gain peace of mind knowing your family and friends will be relieved of the emotional and financial burden often associated with making arrangements when a death occurs. In addition, by pre-funding your funeral and cemetery services, a guaranteed price contract will allow you to purchase at today’s prices, free from inflationary pressures in the future. To learn more about planning ahead, call our Advanced Planning Advisors today at (412) 655-4500 x 121 to make your appointment or visit our advanced planning page here.

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