A Civil World. Off-topic discussions on a variety of topics. > Trans-Atlantic Knowledge Exchange

Funerals

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Ereine:
I hope that this is a suitable topic for this folder.

I went to a funeral this Saturday was struck by how full it was of traditions and unspoken rules. I haven't been to many funerals (fortunately) so I'm not sure how traditional it was but I think that all religious funerals I've been to have been similar. I live in Finland where about 90 % of the population are Lutheran and cemetaries are owned by that church, with very few exceptions so most funerals tend to take place at the cemetary chapel.

The family sits in the front, we were on the right side of the chapel but I don't know if that's traditional. The service began with some organ music and hymns. Then we placed flowers on the casket, first family members and everyone else. The person who laid the flowers would say something and in case of non-family members, nodded at the family (I didn't know you were supposed to do that).

The priest remained completely silent until the flowers were done, then he talked about the deceased, led a prayer and  there was a short sermon. Then more hymns and we gathered the flowers and followed the casket to the burial place where there was another hymn, the casket was lowered to the ground and then covered avain with the flowers (which are left there for days). Afterwards we went to a church hall for food and remembrances.

I was a bit surprised how small the priest's role was during the funeral, it just started and people seemed just to know what to do.

I don't really have an etiquette question, I just found the etiquette of the funeral interesting and am interested in funeral customs of other places. Are choirs common? We only had the organist. I've heard that in some places the bodies are viewed before funerals, we don't do that (but funerals seem to be held sooner in America for example, now it was almost a month after death and we don't use enbalming, or so I've heard). We don't really have funeral processions either, the body is already at the chapel and probably most often the cemetary is usually right next to it. 

(I'm not sure if this is a good topic and it's quite scary to post in a new folder, I hope it goes well).

violinp:
It sounds like the US is a bit different. I'm Lutheran, but our service is very different from yours.

Funerals in America usually happen within the week after death. There's a visitation time at the funeral home or the church before the service, where everyone expresses condolences to the bereaved. This usually lasts 2 - 4 hours, to allow everyone to get there (and not everyone stays the whole time, obviously).

Then, everyone goes into the funeral home chapel/church sanctuary, and the service is held. It's a very formal service at my church, with coffin processional, laying of the pall (a banner-like cloth that goes over the coffin) and everything. Quite a few hymns are sung, and 2 - 3 readings, including a Gospel reading are usually read. A communion service may happen, but I've yet to experience one. The choir may sing, but it's not a sure thing.

After the chapel/church service is over, the mourners go to the grave site and there is a graveside service. Then we all go to the bereaved's house or the church fellowship hall for lunch and more condolences. If the lunch is at the church, then a church group, like the Ladies' Sewing Circle, provides the food and drink.

Hope this was/is illuminating!

Sharnita:
Funerals in the US are so varied that I don't know they can be generalized.  Just in Michigan I have been to funerals with open caskets, closed caskets, cremation, burial before the funeral, burial after the funeral...

Sometimes there is a visitation a day or two before the funeral.  Somerimes the funeral is a couple days after the death, sometimes it is more a memorial service days or weeks after the funeral.  There is frequently a funeral procession but not always.  Sometimes there is only a graveside service.

My great aunt was a nun and while the family was welcome at her funeral only those in her order were present for her bural.

Sometimes a church or community group will put on a luncheon afterwaed, sometimes the family will provide it, sometimes it is a bit of both and on occasion there is no lunch.

There might be an organ, might be a singer, might be a choir, might eb communion - but none of those are certain.

Ruelz:
I was also raised Lutheran...so am used to fairly traditional funerals...but I've been to some wierd ones as well.

The last one we went to actually upset me a bit.  The family of the deceased, were invited to a BBQ before the viewing (which is fine, they have to eat)...but showed up in Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops. :o

I took some pains to dress appropriately, I even went to buy a suitable shirt to wear since I didn't have anything that I thought was appropriate.

Why did I bother?

violinp:

--- Quote from: Ruelz on July 24, 2011, 02:57:08 PM ---I was also raised Lutheran...so am used to fairly traditional funerals...but I've been to some wierd ones as well.

The last one we went to actually upset me a bit.  The family of the deceased, were invited to a BBQ before the viewing (which is fine, they have to eat)...but showed up in Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops. :o

I took some pains to dress appropriately, I even went to buy a suitable shirt to wear since I didn't have anything that I thought was appropriate.

Why did I bother?

--- End quote ---

Oh dear!

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