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Religious Considerations

Religious Considerations

Religious Considerations

Are you assigned to arrange a funeral for someone with a religious affiliation? Here is a guide to help you understand some of the common religious death rites and customs. We apologize if your religion is not represented, as there are many, many religions in the world. If you have suggestions, please use the form at the bottom of this article to help us update this list. This list is in no particular order.


Protestant Customs

  • Ministry to the bereaved is very important
  • “Calling Hours” is a custom where one expresses condolences by writing a note and offering a gift (food, flowers, contribution to the person’s church or charity) unless requested otherwise
  • Funeral services can be held in the church or funeral home
Roman Catholic Customs
  • It is appropriate to offer condolences during the Wake or calling hours
  • Flowers can be sent to the funeral home or home of the bereaved
Mormon Customs
  • Mormons are encouraged to bury their dead over cremation unless burial is not allowed
  • Embalming is acceptable
  • If the dead person has received their temple endowments, he/she can be buried in their temple clothing
  • Funerals usually take place in an LDS chapel or mortuary under the direction of the bishop or other authorized priesthood authority
  • The grave is usually dedicated by a priesthood holder (typically a member of the family)
  • Mormons believe they will be reunited with their families and friends in the next life, and hence are not as grief stricken when a death occurs
Jewish Customs
  • It is common for friends and neighbors to prepare the first meal for the mourner and bereavers (be careful to bring only kosher foods to a kosher home)
  • Flowers are not part of a Jewish funeral (don’t send flowers to a Jewish funeral)
  • Condolences should be made within six days of the funeral, and one hour on the seventh day
  • Funerals are not encouraged in Orthodox synagogues, therefore Orthodox funerals are usually held in funeral homes or the family’s home
  • Some customs are unique to Orthodox, Reform, and Conservative Jews
Scientology Customs
  • Funeral services tend to be focused on praising and acknowledging the deceased’s life and achievements, and wishing them well in their future existence
  • The remains may be cremated or buried based on the wishes of the family
  • Scientology views the “thetan” or spiritual self as the individual, and the body as merely a convenient vessel used in the physical universe
Unitarian Universalists Customs
  • Individuals are encouraged to plan for their funeral arrangements, and provide their wishes in writing for their loved ones
  • Burial and cremation are acceptable
  • Simple and earth friendly dispositions are common, as well as organ donation
Muslim Customs
  • Death is viewed as Allah’s will, and only a temporary separation of the body and soul, which will be reunited on Judgement Day
  • When a Muslim learns of a person’s death, he says, “Inna Lillahae wa Inna Elaihae Rajae’uon” (Verily, unto Allah do we belong and verily, unto Him we shall return)
  • The body should be buried as soon as possible; cremation is forbidden
  • Only a man can prepare (wash) a man’s body, and a woman for a woman’s body
  • Viewings are not typical, and if done, only with the immediate family
  • Friends and relatives usually provide meals for the immediate family for three days
  • Gifts like flowers are typically not suitable
Hindu Customs
  • Funerals are usually held within 24 hours of the death
  • The body is usually kept in the home until cremation
  • Flowers are placed at the feet of the deceased until the cremation
  • After the funeral, it is custom to bring gifts of fruit
Eastern Orthodox Churches
  • Funeral services are usually held within three days after death
  • Each day before burial the priest conducts the Trisagion Prayers of Mercy at the Wake
  • Calling hours at a funeral home are typical for 1-2 days for friends a relatives to pay their respects
  • Black or somber clothes are typical for the wake

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