The following are brief descriptions of different types of religious ceremonies performed during a funeral or memorial service. Nichols-Gilmore Funeral Home and Cremation Service wants you to know that this is only a brief description of what they can expect during these very different and unique ceremonies. Furthermore, we encourage participants in a funeral or memorial service to contact the specific church or funeral director for more detailed information about the service.
According to the Buddhist faith, individuals pass through a series of reincarnations until they are liberated from worldly illusions and passions. Death is a way to reach the next reincarnation and move closer to nirvana, a state of absolute bliss. Buddhist funerals are often more like celebrations, where followers focus on the soul of the deceased as it makes its ascent from the physical body . The Buddhist funeral services revolve around the concepts of sharing, good conduct and meditation. The first service is held within two day s of a death at the home of the bereaved. A second service is held two to five day s following the death, and is conducted by monks at the funeral home. The third and final service is held seven day s after the burial or cremation and is meant to create positive energy for the deceased as he transcends to the next stage of reincarnation. The viewing takes place the evening before the funeral. Guests are expected to view the body and offer a small bow in front of the casket to honor the impermanence of life. Guests should also offer their condolences to the family . The funeral ceremony includes chanting and individual offerings of incense. Guests are not expected to join either part of the ceremony , but should sit quietly and observe the rituals. While the family dresses in white, guests usually wear modest black clothing. Loose clothing is advised for ceremonies at temples where guests must sit on the floor to meditate. Flowers and donations can be sent to the funeral home, but food offerings are discouraged.
In 187 9, Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy founded the Christian Scientist religion in Boston, Mass. Christian Scientists believe that sin, death and disease do not come from God. Instead, they are created by man. They also believe
that funeral services are optional. If a funeral service is preferred, attendees are encouraged to wear formal clothing in muted colors. Services are typically held in private or in funeral homes as opposed to a church. Since Christian Scientists do not have clergy , a Christian Scientist teacher, practitioner, reader or friend conducts the ceremony . The ceremony does not include personal remarks or eulogies. However, it does include readings from one of Mrs. Eddy s books or from the King James Bible. Also, funerals are not typically open casket. In addition, food may be served afterward. However, alcohol is not permitted.
The Hmong view death as a natural part of the life cycle. All Hmong are given a mandate upon birth that determines the length of their life. When their mandate is up, the soul must leave its body to reside with its ancestors. When a Hmong dies, the entire family comes to the home to pay their respects. Traditionally, the Hmong prefer to die in their own home and hold the funeral there among family and friends. Due to restrictions in the West, the Hmong must store the body and hold the service in a funeral home. A typical Hmong funeral lasts three day s. The funeral is the most important part of Hmong culture and must be done properly to ensure a prosperous afterlife for the deceased. Family members prepare the body for burial and adorn it with objects to protect its soul from evil spirits as it journey s to the other world. They provide the soul with food, wine, clothing and money . The Hmong will also sacrifice a rooster to accompany the soul on its journey . Musicians play a pipe and set of drums to guide the soul in the direction of its ancestors. The Hmong will perform a ceremony a year following the death to invite the soul back for a final feast. An animal is traditionally sacrificed at this service to ensure that the soul makes its final ascent to its ancestors.
Church of Latter Day Saints
The Church of Latter Day Saints accepts death as an essential part of the plan of salvation. The followers, commonly known as Mormons, believe that everyone who lived or ever will live on earth is a spiritual child of God because they all lived with God before the existence of man. When an individual dies, the soul leaves the body for the spirit world, a place of learning and preparation. Upon the resurrection of Christ, the body and soul are reunited for eternity . Since Mormons believe they will be reunited with the deceased in the afterlife, funerals are a time for hope and anticipation. Guests should wear modest clothing and ensure that their hems are near the knees. The service includes sacred music, pray er and a eulogy that remind mourners of Jesus Christ's Atonement and Resurrection. Close family and friends attend a brief graveside service following the funeral. The family usually hosts a gathering after the service so that all attendees can offer their condolences. Cards and flowers are appropriate gifts.
Seventh Day Adventists
Seventh Day Adventists believe the dead sleep until the Second Coming of Christ. On this day , the deceased and the living face a final judgment to determine their salvation. Those who remain loyal to God will enter the
sanctuary of heaven to enjoy eternal life. The funeral for a Seventh Day Adventist usually occurs within one week of his death. Friends are encouraged to call and offer condolences to the family before the funeral. Seventh Day Adventists provide comfort for the family by saying phrases such as, I sense your grief and share it with you or We look for the coming resurrection. It is also customary for guests to offer a brief word of encouragement to the family before the funeral service. Women should wear respectable clothing that covers the arms and falls just below the knee. Guests should wear dark clothing and remove all jewelry . It is appropriate to pay the family a visit several day s following the funeral to assist with difficulties and to offer comforting words that may ease the grieving process. Guests may send flowers or food to the house. Do not make any charitable donations.
When a Shinto follower dies, his spirit lives forever under the protection of ancestral spirits and Kami, or Shinto divinities. The Shinto perform daily rituals at shrines in their homes to bring the spirits of the deadback to earth. They offer food, drink and burn incense. These rituals ensure that the dead are always remembered. While Shintoism is simple in nature, the ceremonies are very complex and do not allow for personalization. Each stage of a Shinto burial is performed according to ancient rituals. A burial contains over 20 procedures. The kich-fuda, koden and bunkotsu are three of the procedures. The kich-fuda is a time of serious mourning where close family and friends wear all black and carry stringed prayer beads. During the koden procedure, friends and family offer monetary gifts to the immediate family to help with funeral expenses. The bunkotsu stage is one of the final steps, where ashes are given to close family members to put in their home shrines.
According to Sikhism, individuals go through a constant cy cle of birth and rebirth until their soul breaks free and meets with the supreme soul, God. Sikhs remain continuously aware of death, repeating prayers and performing righteous deeds so they may eventually break the cycle of birth and death. Since death is viewed as an act of the Almighty , Sikhs are expected to keep their emotions under control. Even the closest mourners should appear detached. Upon the death of a Sikh, the family prepares the deceased with a yogurt bath and dressings that bear the five symbols of a Sikh. The five symbols are a kirpin, the Sikh knife representing compassion and ones duty to defend the truth, kara, a stainless steel bracelet, kachera, a special Sikh underwear, kanga, a small comb and kesh, or uncut hair. The family recites many prayers throughout the preparations to help the soul leave the body and become one with God. Once the body is prepared, the family carries it to the crematorium followed by a procession of friends and family . Sikhs continue to recite many prayers. Since all of the prayers are recited in Gurmukhi, the original language of the Gurus, guests are not expected to join. Both men and women must wear headgear during all ceremonies. A scarf covering the head is adequate. There is no requirement for color of clothing. The Sikh mourning period lasts between two to five weeks. The family may decide to hold a number of ceremonies during that time period. Flowers and cards are appropriate gifts. Foods are also appreciated but nothing with meat, fish, eggs or alcohol.