Archive for Committal Service

What makes up a “traditional” funeral?

A “traditional” funeral involves the laying out of a casketed body for friends and family to pay respects.  The casket itself may be either “open” or “closed”.  An open casket is one in which the casket lid is left open so that the deceased is visible throughout the ceremony.  A closed casket ceremony means the ceremony is held in the presence of the casket, but the casket lid is closed.  The decedent’s family decides which option they prefer after considering the manner of death and condition of the body.

During a traditional funeral, some type of remembrance ceremony is held.  This ceremony gives friends an opportunity to “say goodbye” to the person who has died and comfort surviving family members.  The funeral ceremony may be open to anyone that wishes to come, or it may be restricted to invited friends and family members.

With a traditional funeral, the body is removed from the place of death and transported to the funeral home.  At the funeral home, the body is embalmed and cosmetically repaired (i.e. the hair is combed, cleaned, and set and makeup, if needed, is applied).  After the body is prepared, it is laid out in a casket. 

Usually, a viewing or visitation ceremony is held the night before the actual funeral service.  This gives friends and well-wishers an opportunity to pay their respects even if they can’t attend the actual funeral service (which is usually held during normal work hours).  If the casket lid is closed during this time, it’s called a “visitation” ceremony; if the casket lid remains open during the ceremony, it is known as a “viewing.”

The actual funeral ceremony is usually held the day after the viewing ceremony.  This is the formal ceremony in which the eulogy is given, often by a religious official.

Immediately following the funeral ceremony, the body is transported to its final resting place – usually a cemetery or mausoleum.  A committal service (i.e. separate service held at the grave side) may also be held right before the casketed body is buried or entombed.

Learn more about traditional funerals.

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