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Funeral (  From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia )

Order of exercises, local memorial service in Nashua, New Hampshire for U.S. President William McKinley on September 19, 1901, shortly after his assassination.

recent times there has been more variation in what the decedent is dressed in - some people choose to be dressed in clothing more reflective of how they dressed in life. The body will often be adorned with common jewelry, such as watches, necklaces, brooches, etc. The jewelry may be taken off and given to the family of the deceased or remain in the casket after burial. Jewelry will most likely be removed before cremation. The body may or may not be embalmed, depending upon such factors as the amount of time since the death has occurred, religious practices, or requirements of the place of burial but in general embalming is preferable.

The most commonly prescribed aspects of this gathering are that the attendees sign a book kept by the deceased's survivors to record who attended. In addition, a family may choose to display photographs taken of the deceased person during his/her life (often, formal portraits with other family members and candid pictures to show "happy times"), prized possessions and other items representing his/her hobbies and/or accomplishments. A more recent trend is to create a DVD with pictures and video of the deceased, accompanied by music, and play this DVD continuously during the visitation.

The viewing is either "open casket", in which the embalmed body of the deceased has been clothed and treated with cosmetics for display; or "closed casket", in which the coffin is closed. The coffin may be closed if the body was too badly damaged because of an accident or fire or other trauma, deformed from illness or if someone in the group is emotionally unable to cope with viewing the corpse. In cases such as these, a picture of the deceased, usually a formal photo, is placed atop the casket.

However, this step is foreign to Judaism; Jewish funerals are held soon after death (preferably within a day or two, unless more time is needed for relatives to come), and the corpse is never displayed. As well, Jewish law forbids anyone to embalm the body of the deceased. Traditionally flowers (and music) are not sent to a grieving Jewish family as it is a reminder of the life that is now lost.(See also Jewish bereavement.)

The decedent's closest friends and relatives who are unable to attend frequently send flowers to the viewing, with the exception of a Jewish funeral,where flowers would not be appropriate (and donations are given to a charity instead). The viewing typically takes place at a funeral home, which is equipped with gathering rooms where the viewing can be conducted, although the viewing may also take place at a church. In earlier history, it was common practice in some of the states in the southeastern United States that the body was taken to the decedent’s home or that of a relative for viewing. This practice continues in many areas of Ireland and Scotland. The viewing may end with a prayer service; in a Roman Catholic funeral, this may include a rosary.

A visitation is often held the evening before the day of the funeral. However, when the deceased person is elderly the visitation may be held immediately preceding the funeral. This allows elderly friends of the deceased a chance to view the body and attend the funeral in one trip, since it may be difficult for them to arrange travel; this step may also be taken if the deceased has few survivors or the survivors want a funeral with only a small number of guests.


A memorial service, often called a funeral, is often officiated by clergy from the decedent's, or bereaved's, church or religion. A funeral may take place at either a funeral home or church. A funeral is held according to the family's choosing which may be a few days after the time of death, allowing family members to attend the service.

Tradition[citation needed] also allows the attendees of the memorial service to have one last opportunity to view the deceased and say good-bye; the immediate family (siblings (and their spouses); followed by the deceased's spouse, parents and children) are sometimes the very last to view their loved one before the coffin is closed. This opportunity can take place immediately before the service begins, or at the very end of the service.

The deceased is usually transported from the funeral home to a church in a hearse, a specialized vehicle designed to carry casketed remains. The deceased is often transported in a procession (also called a funeral cortege), with the hearse, funeral service vehicles, and private automobiles traveling in a procession to the church or other location where the services will be held. In a number of jurisdictions, special laws cover funeral processions - such as requiring other vehicles to give right-of-way to a funeral procession. Funeral service vehicles may be equipped with light bars and special flashers to increase their visibility on the roads. They may also all have their headlights on, to identify which vehicles are part of the cortege, although the practice also has roots in ancient Roman customs. After the funeral service, if the deceased is to be buried the funeral procession will proceed to a cemetery if not already there. If the deceased is to be cremated the funeral procession may then proceed to the crematory.

Funeral services commonly include prayers; readings from a sacred text; hymns (sung either by the attendees or a hired vocalist); and words of comfort by the clergy. Frequently, a relative or close friend will be asked to give a eulogy, which details happy memories and accomplishments; often commenting on the deceased's flaws, especially at length, is considered impolite. Sometimes the delivering of the eulogy is done by the clergy. Clergy are often asked to deliver eulogies for people they have never met. Church bells may also be tolled both before and after the service.

In some religious denominations, for example, Roman CatholicAnglican and Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ), eulogies from loved ones are somewhat discouraged during this service, in order to preserve respect for traditions. In such cases, the eulogy is only done by a member of the clergy. This tradition is giving way to eulogies read by family members or friends in a desire to ensure that it is done, "just right." Also, for these same religions, the coffin is traditionally closed at the end of the wake and is not re-opened for the funeral service.

During the funeral and at the burial service, the casket may be covered with a large arrangement of flowers, called a casket spray. If the deceased served in a branch of the Armed forces, the casket may be covered with a national flag; however, in the US, nothing should cover the national flag according to Title 4, United States Code, Chapter 1, Paragraph 8i.

Funeral customs vary from country to country. In the United States, any type of noise other than quiet whispering or mourning is considered disrespectful.

A traditional Fire Department funeral consists of two raised aerial ladders.The firefighter(s) travel under the aerials on their ride, on the fire apparatus, to the cemetery. Once there, the grave service includes the playing of bagpipes. The pipes have come to be a distinguishing feature of a fallen hero's funeral. Also a "Last Alarm Bell" is rung. A portable fire department bell is tolled at the conclusion of the ceremony.


A floral name tribute (spelling out the word "Mum") at a funeral in England.

Memorial services

The memorial service is a service given for the deceased without the body present. This may take place after an earth burial, donation of the body to an institution such as a school, cremation (sometimes the remains are present), entombment, or burial at sea. Typically these services take place at the funeral home and may include prayers, poems, or songs to remember the deceased. Pictures of the deceased are usually placed at the altar where the body would normally be.

After the sudden deaths of important public officials, public memorial services have been held by communities, including those without any other connection to the deceased. For instance, memorial services were held after the James A. Garfield assassination and the William McKinley assassination.

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Burial service

burial service, conducted at the side of the grave, tombmausoleum or cremation, at which the body of the decedent is buried or cremated at the conclusion.

Sometimes, the burial service will immediately follow the funeral, in which case a funeral procession travels from the site of the memorial service to the burial site. Other times, the burial service takes place at a later time, when the final resting place is ready.

If the decedent served in a branch of the Armed forces, military rites are often accorded at the burial service.

In many religious traditions, pallbearers, usually males who 

John Everett Millais - The Vale of Rest

Traditional funerals

Within the United States and Canada, in most cultural groups and regions, the funeral rituals can be divided into three parts: visitation, funeral, and the burial service.

At the visitation (also called a "viewing","wake" or "calling hours") the body of the deceased person (or decedent) is placed on display in the casket (also called a coffin, however almost all body containers are caskets). The viewing often takes place on one or two evenings before the funeral. The body is traditionally dressed in the decedent's best clothes. In 

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​A funeral is a ceremony for celebrating, sanctifying, or remembering the life of a person who has died. Funerary customs comprise the complex of beliefs and practices used by a culture to remember the dead, from interment itself, to various monumentsprayers, and rituals  undertaken in their honor. These customs vary widely between cultures, and between religious affiliations within cultures. The word funeral comes from the Latin funus, which had a variety of meanings, including the corpse and the funerary rites themselves. Funerary art is art produced in connection with burials, including many kinds of tombs, and objects specially made for burial with a corpse.

​Funeral rites are as old as the human culture itself, predating modern Homo sapiens, to at least 300,000 years ago. For example, in the Shanidar cave in Iraq, in Pontnewydd Cave in Wales and other sites across Europe and the Near East, Neanderthal skeletons have been discovered with a characteristic layer of flower pollen. This has been interpreted as suggesting that Neanderthals believed in an afterlife.


are close, but not immediate relatives (such as cousins, nephews or grandchildren) or friends of the decedent, will carry the casket from the chapel (of a funeral home or church) to the hearse, and from the hearse to the site of the burial service. The pallbearers often sit in a special reserved section during the memorial service.

According to most religions, coffins are kept closed during the burial ceremony. In Eastern Orthodox funerals, the coffins are reopened just before burial to allow loved ones to look at the deceased one last time and give their final farewells. Greek funerals are an exception as the coffin is open during the whole procedure unless the state of the body does not allow it.

The morticians will typically ensure that all jewelry, including wristwatch, that were displayed at the wake are in the casket before it is buried or entombed. Custom requires that everything goes into the ground; however this is not true for Jewish services. Jewish tradition is that nothing of value is buried with the deceased.

There is an exception, in the case of cremation. Such items tend to melt or suffer damage, so they are usually removed before the body goes into the furnace. Pacemakers are removed prior to cremation - if they were left in they could possibly explode and damage the crematorium.


In many traditions, a meal or other gathering often follows the burial service, also called a repast. This gathering may be held at the deceased's church or another off-site location. Some funeral homes have large spaces set aside to provide funeral dinners.

Etiquette in different countries

Generally speaking, the number of people who are considered obliged to attend each of these three rituals by etiquette decreases at each step:
.  Distant relatives and acquaintances may be called upon to attend the visitation.
.  The decedent's closer relatives and local friends attend the funeral or memorial service, and    subsequent burial (if it is held immediately after the memorial service).
.  If the burial is on the day of the funeral, only the decedent's closest relatives and friends
   attend the burial service (although if the burial service immediately follows the funeral, all      attendees of the memorial service are asked to attend).

​Traditionally etiquette dictated that the bereaved and other attendees at a funeral wear formal clothing, such as a suit and tie for men or a dress for women. The most traditional color is solid black (with a matching solid black tie for men) preferably without any underlying pinstripes or patterns in the weave. But failing that charcoal gray or dark navy blue may be worn.

Wearing short skirts, low-cut tops, t-shirts with advertising slogans or suggestive images, or, at Western funerals, a large amount of white (other than a button-down shirt or blouse, a military uniform, or in the Swedish tradition, white ties worn by male members of the immediate family) is often seen as disrespectful.

Women who are grieving the deaths of their husbands or close partners sometimes wear a veil to conceal their faces, although this practice is not presently common. Increasingly, the deceased have requested before their death that the attendees of their funeral should wear something of their favorite color or wear something specific, such as a football shirt.

A guest book may be placed in a prominent place during the viewing. It is intended to let the next of kin know who came to the funeral, so that thank-you letters can be mailed. It is not intended to be read by the funeral directors as a source of referrals, so it is not the best place for comments on the appropriateness of the funeral arrangements. Disagreements on such matters can have lasting effects and can even affect inheritances.

Private services

On occasion, the family of the deceased may wish to have only a very small service, with just the deceased's closest family members and friends attending. This type of ceremony means it is closed to the public. One may only go to the funeral if one is invited. In this case, a private funeral service is conducted. Reasons vary but often include the following:
.  The deceased was an infant (possibly, they may have been stillborn) or very aged, and    
​   therefore has few surviving family members or friends.
.  The deceased may be a crime victim or a convicted criminal who was serving a prison
​   sentence or executed. In this case, the service is made private either to avoid unwanted
   media coverage (especially with a crime victim); or to avoid unwanted intrusion (especially
​   if the deceased was convicted of murder or sexual assault).
.  The family does not feel able to endure a traditional service (due to emotional shock) or
   simply wants a quiet, simple funeral with only the most important people of the deceased's
​   life in attendance.
.  The family and/or the deceased, as more frequently preplanned, prefer simplicity and lower
   cost to that of traditional arrangements. The choice of cremation as an option to casketed
   burial is increasing and often includes disposition of the cremains at a time privately
​   convenient to the deceased's family members.
.  The deceased is of a distinct celebrity status, and holding public ceremony would result in
   too many guests who are not acquainted with the deceased to participate. On the other
   hand, if a state funeral is offered and accepted by the deceased's immediate family, a public
   funeral would ensue. A recent example of this is the death of celebrity Steve Irwin, in which
   his family was offered a state funeral but refused. They held a private ceremony for Irwin on
​   9 September 2006.

In some cases (particularly the last), the family may schedule a public memorial service at a later time. In the case of Steve Irwin, his memorial service was held on 20 September 2006.