Faith and Death: Funeral Customs by Religion

funeral garden“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”
– Vick Harrison

One of the things that help us cope with the grieving process are memorials. Memorials help us come to terms with the reality of death and our own mortality.

Throughout history, mankind has erected memorials to honour and remember loved ones, says Centenary Memorial Gardens. Each religion observes its own customs in honouring fallen kin, friends, and people they deeply care for.

Christianity

Different traditions in Christianity have different rules for mourning. The tradition of wearing black during mourning dates back to Roman times or earlier, however, this changed to violet, black or white in 1969 following the Roman Catholic Church’s directive to change the acceptable liturgical colours to be worn for the Mass for the Dead

In westernised countries where Catholicism thrives, a funeral service is called a wake. A wake takes place sometime between the death and the burial, and is usually held at the family’s house. Although wakes usually involve a viewing of the body, it is often a celebration of the deceased’s life. The word “wake” evolved from the word for “watch” or “guard” and became the term used in “wake for the dead.”

There are many other paths in Christianity as well, and they all have slightly different traditions. Most practicing Christians mourn during a funeral surface in which family and friends say prayers.

Islam

Muslims view death as a transition from one state of being to another, not as an end. They believe that people’s actions follow them to the afterlife.

When someone who believes in Islam dies, the corpse is bathed and wrapped in a plain cloth (called a kafan). The deceased is buried in the ground after the funeral service. Only burial in the ground is allowed according to Shari’ah (Islamic Law).Mourners gather and offer Janazah, prayers for the forgiveness of the deceased. Once the body is buried, mourners offer one final Janazah prayer.

Buddhism

Buddhists believe in reincarnation as their origins can be traced back to Hinduism. According to the Buddhist faith, a person who dies enters a new incarnation immediately after death, to be reborn nine months later. There are three aspects to a Buddhist funeral: sharing, conducting yourself well, and meditating.

Different people have different ways of commemorating their loved ones. What is important is that we know how to respect their traditions.