Funeral customs

  1. 2 I was raised in a very small town and never attended a funeral other than those similar to my own background. I married a Catholic man and the funerals are a bit different than my "WASP" background, but not so much that anything was a shock to me.

    I became very close with a Jewish woman at work and have become very close over the last 5 years with an African American woman I bowl with every week.

    C, the Jewish woman lost her father last Spring. I went to the funeral and was struck by the "plain" coffin. It was completely wood, it looked to be untreated. Then after the service we walked right out to the cemetary and they lowered the coffin into the ground as people (family and friends) each put a scoop of dirt on top one shovel at a time. I have never seen the coffin actually lowered right into the ground with the family standing there. About 3 monthes later she started talking about a ceremony her family was coming back in town for over one weekend. Apparently, the headstone came in and they have a ceremony for the unveiling. I have never heard about anything like this either.

    Then last week my African-American friend lost her father in law. I went to the funeral and let me tell you, I was blown away. There was singing and dancing. They read letters from other churches in the area (the man was a Deacan in the church.) They was celebrating the life of the man rather than mourning the death. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen! I called my husband and told him this is what I want! The only thing that I found a bit strange were the 4 women dressed as nurses. They had on all white with the caps and everything. They were walking around passing out tissues. My girlfriend told me the aren't actually nurses, just volunteers who pass out tissues and water and smelling salts in case anyone "falls out."

    I found this all to be very enlightening. So, I thought, with all the different regions we have here there are surely some different customs for funerals. How do you mourn the loss of your loved ones? Is it a somber, sad affair or is it a celebration of the life lived?
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  3. Visit  ShayRN profile page

    About ShayRN

    ShayRN has '13' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Corrections, Cardiac, Hospice'. From 'Ohio'; 44 Years Old; Joined Mar '04; Posts: 1,081; Likes: 2,480.

    24 Comments so far...

  4. Visit  SuesquatchRN profile page
    1
    When you search for a white nurse's dress you will often find them also called "church dresses."

    I've been to very few funerals.

    ShayRN likes this.
  5. Visit  Dinsey profile page
    1
    The Jewish funeral you described sounds exactly per custom.
    ShayRN likes this.
  6. Visit  RN1982 profile page
    1
    I believe it's custom for Jewish families to bury their dead within 24 hours.
    ShayRN likes this.
  7. Visit  DA314 profile page
    1
    I took a course called Psychosocial Aspects of Death and Dying, It really opened my eyes to how other cultures approach death and funerals. The customs you described sound a lot lke what was taught in the course. It really helps you to become sensitive to the grieving process of others.
    ShayRN likes this.
  8. Visit  Praiser profile page
    1
    sounds like the holy spirit had his way at the african american funeral ! praise the lord !

    praiser :heartbeat
    ShayRN likes this.
  9. Visit  SuesquatchRN profile page
    0
    Quote from Michigan RN
    I believe it's custom for Jewish families to bury their dead within 24 hours.
    Yeah. My husband can't believe that we let dead bodies just, you know, hang out and rot for a few days.

  10. Visit  VivaLasViejas profile page
    8
    I've been to way too many funerals, which is why I've decided I want a life celebration instead. I'd rather have people smile and laugh when they remember me. I want my favorite tunes played, both spiritual and non-spiritual, and I want everyone to eat and drink and share stories. Then I want to be taken back to southern California and my ashes scattered near my grandparents' and parents' graves so we can be together one last time on earth.

    It's funny, how we never really like to think of these things when we're young, but the older we get the less frightened we are of the inevitable. Having lost one child and all of my original family (except for my sister), not to mention seeing many patients out of this life, I'm actually fairly comfortable with the idea that one day my body will cease to exist. I've already lived a reasonably satisfying life; I've loved and been loved in return, raised my kids, seen three grandchildren born, had material comforts, and enjoyed many wonderful experiences. Not that I'm in a hurry to leave all this, of course---I'm just saying that half a century of life is more than a lot of folks get, and I won't feel that I've missed out on anything when God calls me home, whether it's tomorrow or 30 years from now. I've been truly blessed.

    Which is why I want everyone who comes to my life celebration to have a copy of this little poem, from the "Little House on the Prairie" series:

    Remember me with smiles and laughter,
    for that is how I will remember you all.
    If you can only remember me with tears,
    then don't remember me at all.
    SuesquatchRN, tvccrn, ShayRN, and 5 others like this.
  11. Visit  nrsang97 profile page
    1
    Quote from Michigan RN
    I believe it's custom for Jewish families to bury their dead within 24 hours.

    I believe it is the same for Muslims too.
    ShayRN likes this.
  12. Visit  FireStarterRN profile page
    3
    Quote from praiser
    sounds like the holy spirit had his way at the african american funeral ! praise the lord !

    praiser :heartbeat
    not to argue, but the holy spirit can also move is quiet and reserved ways as well. some cultures are more outwardly expressive than others. the holy spirit, also, can move quietly or with great expression of emotion.
    Praiser, ShayRN, and VivaLasViejas like this.
  13. Visit  sewnew profile page
    1
    Quote from ShayRN
    I was raised in a very small town and never attended a funeral other than those similar to my own background. I married a Catholic man and the funerals are a bit different than my "WASP" background, but not so much that anything was a shock to me.

    I became very close with a Jewish woman at work and have become very close over the last 5 years with an African American woman I bowl with every week.

    C, the Jewish woman lost her father last Spring. I went to the funeral and was struck by the "plain" coffin. It was completely wood, it looked to be untreated. Then after the service we walked right out to the cemetary and they lowered the coffin into the ground as people (family and friends) each put a scoop of dirt on top one shovel at a time. I have never seen the coffin actually lowered right into the ground with the family standing there. About 3 monthes later she started talking about a ceremony her family was coming back in town for over one weekend. Apparently, the headstone came in and they have a ceremony for the unveiling. I have never heard about anything like this either.

    Then last week my African-American friend lost her father in law. I went to the funeral and let me tell you, I was blown away. There was singing and dancing. They read letters from other churches in the area (the man was a Deacan in the church.) They was celebrating the life of the man rather than mourning the death. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen! I called my husband and told him this is what I want! The only thing that I found a bit strange were the 4 women dressed as nurses. They had on all white with the caps and everything. They were walking around passing out tissues. My girlfriend told me the aren't actually nurses, just volunteers who pass out tissues and water and smelling salts in case anyone "falls out."

    I found this all to be very enlightening. So, I thought, with all the different regions we have here there are surely some different customs for funerals. How do you mourn the loss of your loved ones? Is it a somber, sad affair or is it a celebration of the life lived?
    Yes, this Jewish funeral sounds about right. The only thing is that I thought that the unveiling takes place on the first anniversary of the death, not three months later.

    Another Jewish custom pertaining to death is a mourning period for the immediate family members, which lasts for a week following the funeral. During this one week, friends visit with the family members to comfort them in their time of mourning. The idea behind this custom is to help the family with the grieving process and to take their mind off their loss a little bit. It shows that the friends are there to support the family in their time of need. Additionally, family members add a special prayer in the daily services for one year following the death of a close relative.
    ShayRN likes this.
  14. Visit  Wannabe2 profile page
    2
    Your information on the Jewish customs seems to be accurate. I am a convert to Reform Judaism, a sect that is a bit less traditionally observant than Conservative or Orthodox. The shiva (seven day mourning period following a death) is generally observed by all three, though. I have personally assisted with about a dozen Taharas (preparation for burial) in the past three years as a member of Chevra Kaddisha ("holy society"). Two or three ladies (many of them nurses or former nurses) meet at the funeral home where we say a prayer over the deceased, ask her 'forgiveness' for any indignity we may cause in preparing her for burial, then wash her and dress her in a plain shroud, and assist in placing her in a simple wooden coffin.
    It is customary for a Conservative or Orthodox Jew to be buried within 24 hours of death, unless they have died on the Sabbath. The body is not 'made up' or embalmed and nothing unnatural is enclosed in the coffin - we even remove all surgical tape, wigs, nail polish, and surgical markings from the body. A packet of earth from the land of Israel is sometimes placed under the pillow.
    Traditionally, even surgically amputated limbs were buried, as any part of the body is considered sacred, but it is now considered to be a great mitzvah (commandment) to donate organs to save a human life. Some Reform Jews (like me) are very comfortable with the idea of cremation, since we believe the Almighty can 'reconstitute' us as easily from ashes as He can from dust. :icon_roll Personally, I would not be without my donor card -- and I hope that if I should die while my organs are still usable, they take me straight from the hospital to the crematorium. I hate the idea of anyone going into debt for a fancy funeral or burial -- especially mine!
    ShayRN and Hoozdo like this.
  15. Visit  mizfradd profile page
    6
    I sometimes think of cremation and having my ashes sent in an envelope to the IRS with a note that says, "Now you have it all." :innerconf
    VivaLasViejas, Spidey's mom, ShayRN, and 3 others like this.


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