As with all Abrahamic religions, Christianity places special importance in the afterlife, and much of the lives spent on the material plane is directed at achieving eternal peace in Heaven. Apart from setting the foundations for the deceased’s journey into the afterlife, the funeral service offers strength to bereaved family and friends so they can cope with the loss.
As with all other religions, there are several sects and school of thoughts. Whilst there are some commonalities amongst all the sects, funeral traditions may vary from family to family. But at its very core, a Christian funeral is to allow the bereaved to mourn and pray for the dearly departed.
Preparation Of The Body
Once transferred to the funeral parlours, funeral professionals will prepare the deceased for their burial or cremation by first cleaning and washing their body. After which, they will be dressed in their best clothes before they’re placed into a casket to be displayed for one last time. The deceased will have their hands crossed over their chest and if desired, a rosary or the Bible may be placed in their hands.
Common Traditions At Christian Funerals
Whilst there might be differences by denomination, Christian funeral services have the same rites and they’re as follows:
- If the funeral service is to be done in a church, the priest or minister will be the first to enter. The casket will be carried by pallbearers and followed closely behind them are the family members. When the service has concluded, the same protocols will be followed when leaving the church.
- Prayers and hymns that bring comfort and hope will be read and sung respectively throughout the service’s duration.
- The priest starts the funeral with an opening statement that can be a short prayer for the dead person and include hope and patience for the family. After which, the priest will then give a sermon or homily to remind bereaved family and guests of the religion’s perspective of death and the afterlife.
- A close friend /family member then say a few words regarding the deceased person. They talk about his/her good deeds and about the bond they shared. It is a way to remember the dead person and show love and respect towards him/her.
- Relatives are usually the first people at the start of an open-casket funeral. Once everybody has given the deceased their respects, the minister will conclude the service with closing words and lead the procession to the cemetery.
- At the graveyard, the priest again says some form of prayer for the soul of the departed and can include praises for Jesus as well.
Some Common Etiquette Observed At Christian Funerals
Whilst there is no fixed attire for a Christian funeral, black clothing with sombre colours are often preferred. Men are expected to wear a single-breasted suit and a white shirt. Ties are not required. Women can either wear a long black skirt or dark blue trousers.
You may want to consider giving flowers, a sympathy gift or money to offer as consolation for the bereaved family. However, be sure to offer the money as discreet as possible.
The burial service is all about coming together to mourn and pay respect to the dearly departed. It’s a sombre event that encourages one to reflect on the deceased’s life and offer a prayer.