Funeral Ceremonies 101

Jun 28th 2018

A funeral ceremony offers many benefits to the bereaved family . It can help to reinforce the reality of the person's death and give a sense of closure. A funeral ceremony can offer a spiritual connection with the deceased and also can help find the meaning of life.

A ceremony can be as simple as lighting a few candles and saying a prayer. It can also be as elaborate as including music instrumentalist or soloist, readings, and a special sharing time. The three basic versions of a funeral ceremony depend upon where it will be held and when.

A funeral service is a type of ceremony where the body is present. At a memorial service, the body is not present which can be because the deceased has already been buried at an earlier time or if cremation has occurred. If the body is not present, photos of the deceased are displayed in clear view of the attendees.

A committal service is a ceremony that is held at the graveside immediately before a burial or if cremated, it can be held at the crematory chapel prior to cremation.

Viewing or Wakes

Most people choose a viewing or wake where the immediate family and friends will pay their respects prior to the actual funeral ceremony. The viewing is generally held at a church or funeral home. The casket of the deceased will be present either opened or closed and prayers are offered throughout the viewing or wake. This may take place a day or two prior to the ceremony.

Church Funeral Ceremonies and Guidelines

The majority of funeral services are rituals based upon religious beliefs and customs. Christians do not believe death is an ending, rather a beginning of a new life in Christ eternally. If the service is held at a place of worship, the officiant or clergy will have a predetermined order of service they will follow. Most will allow for unique speakers, music, and readings as desired or requested by the family.

The service may contain all or some of the following:

The procession - the pastor or clergy passes through the congregation to or from the alter or front of the church

Music - a hymn or popular music performed by an individual, choir or by the entire congregation present

Prayer - spoken and given by the clergy or pastor, individual or congregation

Sermon or Homily - message of hope given by the clergy or pastor

Epitaph - a brief statement about the life of the deceased presented by a family member, close friend or clergy.

Scripture - Bible readings read by designated family members or close friends

Eulogy - generally given at the end of the service and commends the individual who has passed. This can be given by a family member or close friend.

Poems - poems can be read by anyone you like

Flowers - may be placed in the place where the ceremony will take place

Pictures - memorable photos of the deceased individual may be placed throughout the ceremony room.

Non-Religious Funeral Ceremonies

If you do not wish to have a religious based ceremony, you may request a funeral service at a neutral location such as a home or community center hall. The design of the ceremony should reflect your or the deceased beliefs. Talk to your funeral director who can better advise you of any local requirements for holding a ceremony in a private setting based on your personal philosophy in this area.