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?
    Ruthiegal and SuesquatchRN like this.

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  2. 24 Comments...

  3. 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.
  4. 1
    The Jewish funeral you described sounds exactly per custom.
    ShayRN likes this.
  5. 1
    I believe it's custom for Jewish families to bury their dead within 24 hours.
    ShayRN likes this.
  6. 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.
  7. 1
    sounds like the holy spirit had his way at the african american funeral ! praise the lord !

    praiser :heartbeat
    ShayRN likes this.
  8. 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.

  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.

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