When you are not a usual churchgoer, it is quite an intimidating idea to attend a Christian funeral. However, there is nothing to worry about. Although Christian funerals follow some traditions, they are accessible to secular ones too.
Catholic funerals are steeped in conventional rituals. This funeral service will be focused more on devotional texts than the deceased. Meaning that you will find no eulogies there by friends and family. However, many Christian burials like Protestant burials are more low-key and modest. They remain focused on the departed soul.
Generally, Christian funerals have some commonalities. Many funerals will feature wakes, which enable people to mingle informally with others for a bit. Also, services follow a common agenda featuring prayers and hymns. However, these pieces may be different and are chosen by the bereaved family specifically for honoring the departed.
One should adhere to a specific dress code. Even if you have not attended a Christian funeral before, it is still possible to blend in.
Christian Funeral Services
Usually, a Christian funeral takes place around a week after the death takes place. Most families go for a wake before the funeral. All Christian funerals have some ceremonial features irrespective of the denomination. Generally, the rituals are laid out in the program handed out at the service’s start. If you have no clue about how to go about it, follow others.
Wakes are typically held some days before a funeral. However, in several cases, a wake can be on the funeral day. If it is on the same day, the wake typically happens in the church, where the funeral is held. However, most wakes take place at the family home.
Christian beliefs regarding burial rituals and death enable embalming. Therefore, the casket might be open in the wake. This depends on a number of factors, such as the deceased’s wishes and the family. In case, you have not been to an open casket funeral before, it could be a bit unsettling. It’s tough to see your loved one devoid of life now.
Usually, Christian funerals take place in a graveside at church-affiliated cemeteries or churches. No matter where the funeral service occurs, a minister or priest will always lead it. If the family plans no wake, the graveside service typically includes time for saying a private bye to the departed.
Usual Service Programs
Mourners can sit down at a burial site or a church. After all settle in, pallbearers (who usually are close friends or family) carry the coffin to the gravesite or into the church. If the departed was cremated, someone will bring an urn of ashes and display the same in a prominent place. During this service’s part, music could or could not be there.
After that, many Christian funeral services will have a hymn in the program. One can look for these hymns written on the program or in the hymnals of the church pews’ back. Then, someone dear to the departed may send a message filled with hope, such as secular writing pieces or inspirational bible passages. The minister will then deliver a second message filled with hope.
After that, there will be a section to remember and reflect on. The church might elect for playing music or keeping the atmosphere still. Sometimes, families ask for someone to lay a poem, sympathy flower, or another meaningful token on the coffin.
These burial rituals foster some connection to the departed as people send them away. After this moment, other hymns are played for encouraging people back to the seats. The end of this ceremony is called “saying goodbye.” Now, the priest prays and asks God for keeping the departed in his upkeep. Also, he is going to recite the passage of “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” This is the funeral’s most emotional portion.
Christian Funeral Etiquette
At Christian funerals, there will not be much time for conversing or mingling with the deceased’s family. A church officiant or a minister will lead the funeral service, while people reflect and listen. The traditional attire for a Christian funeral is black. This is because black is viewed as the mourning color. Men need to be dressed in black suits or dark dress pants with a tie and a dress shirt. On the other hand, women need to be conservative in their attire.
Post-Funeral Rites and Christian Burials
Every religion follows certain traditions around burials and cremations. Christian beliefs regarding death inform their deportments on burial rites and other funeral practices.
Burial and cremation customs
In Christian burials, the deceased person’s body is usually interred in a consecrated ground. In the Christian faith, cremation used to be forbidden as it interferes with resurrection. However, the rules have relaxed over time.
In Catholic custom, cremated remains are buried still. Other Christian sects permit for ashes not to be buried, whereas some have stern rules against scattering them.
The mourning period of everyone will look a bit different. It is a journey that everyone takes, which winds down a different path for every individual. Due to the Christian faith’s diversity, there are various mourning customs, rituals, and traditions. The most prevalent tradition is a congregation and meal after the burial and funeral.
Usually, these gatherings take place at a local church or the family’s home. In several cases, the family even gets the entire event catered. Others can treat this ceremony as a potluck, where people bring dishes. So, this comes down often to the family’s preferences or the regional standards.
In the culture of Christians, people often come together at the grave of the departed loved one for significant holidays or on the anniversary of their death. The visitors bring snacks, drinks, desserts, and meat for sharing with one another. Also, they bring things that they believe that the departed one may require in the next world.
So, this could be anything like paper money or a house build with paper. Traditions for celebrating someone’s life exist throughout the globe.