Should I Use My Cell Phone at a Funeral?

Posted on January 31, 2022 by Bevis Funeral Home under Funeral Etiquette, Funeral Services
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We’ve all been in that awkward situation – the moment when someone’s phone suddenly begins to ring loudly during a serious, silent moment. As they scramble to silence it, you suddenly feel the urge to double check that your phone is on silent, too. While in most cases a random cell phone alert isn’t a big deal, it can be distracting and even downright rude when attending a funeral or memorial service. Even though it’s best to have your phone shut off completely at the service, you should be considerate when using it in any way. Attending a funeral, and not sure of proper cell phone etiquette? Here’s everything you need to know about using (or not using) your cell phone at a funeral.

Put It Away

These days, pretty much everyone has a cell phone in some form. We use them to make calls, take pictures, check the weather and pretty much everything else. You don’t necessarily need to leave it at home, but as a rule of thumb, you should not be using your cell phone at a funeral. It’s distracting to others, and makes it seem as though you don’t care about what is going on.

Of course, there are times when it’s necessary to have your cell phone. For instance, if your children are with a babysitter, you may need to be reachable at all times. Keeping your cell phone on-hand, but on silent, is acceptable if you have reason to be on-call. What you should not be doing, however, is working, browsing social media, or texting your friends during a funeral service.

Keep it Discreet

If you do need to use your cell phone at a funeral, be sure to do so discreetly. In the case of an an emergency call, step all the way outside instead of into the lobby. If you are outdoors or at a grave site, walk completely out of earshot (and sight, if possible) before making your call.

There is also a big difference between putting your phone on vibrate and putting it on silent. Vibrate mode may still make a distracting noise when your phone goes off, and is not much different than a ringtone. To avoid any noise, unless you need to be on-call, it may be best to shut off your phone completely. That way you don’t have to worry about any random alarms, alerts or other notifications that you may have forgotten about. This also goes for any other devices you may have, such as a smart watch.

Avoid Taking Pictures

A cell phone is a convenient way to snap a quick picture, but you should think twice before doing so at a funeral. As a general rule, it is disrespectful to take pictures while attending a funeral service unless you have been specifically asked to do so. While you may be able to take pictures with loved ones either before or after the service, you should not take pictures during the service or burial itself.

If you do take pictures, be considerate when sharing them online. Taking and posting pictures with your cell phone at a funeral might give the impression that you are making it about yourself. It’s a good idea to wait a day or so before posting anything, if you do so at all. If you share a few words and a photo online, keep the focus on the memory of the deceased, and not your role in attending his or her funeral service. Click here to read more about when it’s appropriate to take photos at a funeral service.

Be Considerate

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide when it’s appropriate to use your cell phone at a funeral service. The grieving family will likely understand if you need to step out and answer an emergency call. They might not be so understanding, however, if you are sitting and scrolling through social media during the service. Be considerate of the deceased’s family, as well as those around you, and for the most part, keep your cell phone tucked away. There will be plenty of time to use it later.

Bevis Funeral Home provides a number of resources to help you navigate a difficult time. Visit our website to access our grief and healing resources, or to learn more about funeral etiquette.

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