4 Parts of Traditional Funeral Services | Colonial Funeral Home (2023)

Components of a Traditional Funeral

All traditional funerals generally contain the same main components. We have explained each component below:

1) Wake or Visitation

The purpose of a wake or visitation is to give people the opportunity to pay their respects to the deceased and the family. You often do not have this opportunity during the funeral service. At the visitation, the body is placed in a casket, and is either open or closed based on the family's preference. Often people say a short prayer by the casket then proceed to give their condolences to each family member. A good suggestion is to say something simple to each family member such as "I am sorry for your loss", especially if there are a lot of other guests.

2) Funeral Service

The purpose of a wake or visitation is to give people the opportunity to pay their respects to the deceased and the family. You often do not have this opportunity during the funeral service. At the visitation, the body is placed in a casket, and is either open or closed based on the family's preference. Often people say a short prayer by the casket then proceed to give their condolences to each family member. A good suggestion is to say something simple to each family member such as "I am sorry for your loss", especially if there are a lot of other guests.

3) Committal Service

After the funeral service has been complete, there is a vehicle procession to either the cemetery or the crematory depending on the type of disposition that has been chosen. If the deceased has chosen burial, the family and guests will congregate at the open plot or mausoleum. The Rite of Committal, the final set of prayers are given for the deceased, is said at this part of a traditional funeral service.

4) Funeral Reception

It is common for families to have a social gathering after the committal service with food and refreshments. It offers the family a chance to thank guests for attending, and for everyone to share memories and provide support to each other.

The funeral service is the largest and arguably the most important component that we mentioned above. For the most part when people think about a traditional funeral service, people tend to imagine a Christian style funeral. A traditional funeral service has long been associated with religion. To further illustrate the funeral service component, we will examine it through the lens of a Christian style funeral. However, please remember that you can still have a traditional funeral that is not Christian.

Breakdown of a Christian Funeral Service

A Christian funeral follows the 4 parts that we touched on above: the visitation, funeral service, committal service and finally the funeral reception. The funeral service part is where most of the specific Christian rituals take place. The funeral service is similar to any other Christian mass, however, with a few nuances. The main purpose of a Christian funeral service is to pray for the deceased, and to provide support to the grieving family.

The funeral service starts with guests entering the church or chapel. It is recommended that guests arrive about 15-20 minutes prior to the start of the service to be respectful. There is then a small procession down the main aisle of the church by the immediate family and the pallbearers who are carrying the casket. In most instances, the casket will be placed in front of the altar, and the immediate family and pallbearers sit at the very front. Once everyone has gathered, the priest will give an opening statement that is either a prayer, a statement of support for the family, or a combination of both. After the opening statement, the mass officially begins. A traditional funeral service typically includes scripture readings from the Bible, a homily from the priest, prayers, and hymns. A homily or sermon is a speech given by the priest after the scripture has been read. The Priest will provide insight into the scripture readings and will relate it to the life of the deceased. Generally, the family will choose close relatives or friends to say the prayers and the scripture readings. The funeral service often concludes with the delivery of the eulogy. The eulogy typically covers the deceased’s life, his/her values, personality, accomplishments, etc.

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Since there are many sects of Christianity there will be small differences between a catholic funeral compared to a Lutheran funeral, but for the most part the funeral rituals remain the same.

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Simple Gifts

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Amazing Grace

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His Eye On the Sparrow

By Charles Hutchinson Gabriel

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It is Not Death to Die

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Go Rest High On that Mountain

By Vince Gill

Be Not Afraid

By John Michael Talbot

Popular Christian Funeral Readings

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All People Will Be Brought To Life through Christ: 1 Corinthians 15:20-24. 25-28

A reading from the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the first fruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end, when he hands over the d and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death, for "he subjected everything under his feet." But when it says that everything has been subjected, it is clear that it excludes the one who subjected everything to him. When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will (also) be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.

The Word of the Lord

Death Is Swallowed Up In Victory: 1 Corinthians 15:51-57


A reading from the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians


Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For that which is corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself with immortality. And when this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word that is written shall come about: "Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.


The Word of the Lord

Whoever Hears My Word and Believes Has Passed From Death To Life: John 5:24-29


"Amen, Amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life. Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here when the dead will hear the voice of the son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so also he gave his Son the possession of life in himself. and he gave him power to exercise judgment , because he is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation."


The gospel of the Lord.

Death Is Swallowed Up In Victory: 1 Corinthians 15:51-57


A reading from the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians


Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For that which is corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself with immortality. And when this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word that is written shall come about: "Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.


The Word of the Lord

Where Sin Increased, There Grace Abounded All The More: Romans 5:17-21

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Romans

For if, by the transgression of one person, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ. In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all. For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous. The law entered in so that transgression might increase but, where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Word of the Lord

Young Man, I Say To You, Arise: Luke 7:11-17

Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity for her and said to her, "Do not weep." He stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, "Young man, I tell you, arise!" The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming, "A great prophet has arisen in our midst," and "God has visited his people." This report about him spread through the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding region.

The gospel of the Lord.

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FAQs

What are the 4 purposes of the funeral? ›

The Purpose of a Funeral Service

Funerals allow us to say goodbye. Funerals offer continuity and hope for the living. Funerals provide a support system for us, friends, family members and the community. Funerals allow us to reflect on the meaning of life and death.

What is a traditional funeral? ›

“Traditional” Full-service Funeral

This type of funeral, often referred to by funeral providers as a "traditional" funeral, usually includes a viewing or visitation and formal funeral service, use of a hearse to transport the body to the funeral site and cemetery, and burial, entombment, or cremation of the remains.

What is the order of service for a funeral? ›

Blessings/Prayers - guests join a specific speaker in prayer. Eulogy - a loved one gives a speech about the person who's died. Committal - guests say their goodbyes to the person who's died, before they reach their final resting place. Closing music - hymns (or other music) play as guests leave the venue.

What are the significant components of the full funeral service? ›

A traditional funeral service typically has four components. They are the visitation, funeral ceremony, committal service, and a funeral reception. The family may decide to have more than one visitation at different times or just one.

What are the 3 parts of the funeral? ›

The Vigil, Funeral Mass and the Committal. Through these sacred and solemn Catholic Rites, the family and friends of the deceased are reminded of the companionship and support of Christ and all believers.

What are the parts of a funeral program? ›

A funeral program is often a folded document, much like a greeting card. In this style, the cover includes a large image of the deceased, their name and life and death dates. The inside pages are for the obituary and the order of events for the service.

What happens at traditional funerals? ›

Traditional funerals include a service, often held in a church, the funeral home, crematorium, or at the burial site. There may be verses or poetry read, songs sung, and someone – an officiant or perhaps a religious official – will say a few words.

How do you plan a traditional funeral? ›

How to plan a funeral step-by-step
  1. Contact the deceased's legal representative. ...
  2. Select a funeral home. ...
  3. Choose a form of disposition. ...
  4. Choose a service type. ...
  5. Choose a location for the funeral service. ...
  6. Find and schedule a clergy member or officiant. ...
  7. Select a casket. ...
  8. Select a burial container and/or vault.

How long are traditional funerals? ›

Expect service to last between half an hour to one hour; longer for public figures, or if there are lengthy readings or speeches. A clergy member or other officiant presides over the funeral service, and a printed program is generally provided to guests.

What was the most important part of the funeral ceremony? ›

Eulogy/Remembrance

Fourth, the eulogy may be the single most important aspect of a funeral service. It is the time to acknowledge and affirm the significance of the life lived. With that in mind, take time to share treasured memories, quotes, or even the lost loved one's favorite jokes.

How many elements are commonly used in funeral service? ›

To help grieving families, Dr. Alan Wolfelt, a nationally respected grief author and educator, has identified 7 elements that create a meaningful and healing funeral or memorial service: music, readings, viewing/visitation, eulogy, symbols, gathering, and actions.

What is the main part of a funeral called? ›

4) Funeral Reception

It offers the family a chance to thank guests for attending, and for everyone to share memories and provide support to each other. The funeral service is the largest and arguably the most important component that we mentioned above.

What are the three aims of the funeral rite? ›

The service is designed to honour the life of the deceased and commend their soul to God, but also to provide support to the bereaved. The funeral rite also allows the deceased to be treated with respect and shows that everyone is special to God.

What is the beginning of a funeral service called? ›

What is a Wake? A wake, also known as a viewing, visitation or gathering, typically occurs before the funeral takes place. An urn or a casket is typically present, and the casket may be opened or closed.

What is the meal after a funeral called? ›

Separate from a memorial service, a funeral reception is a special event for family members and friends to honor the deceased without a formalized structure. The gathering after a funeral usually has food and drinks and serves as a venue to offer one's condolences to the family. This is also commonly known as a repast.

Why are funerals 3 days after death? ›

Historically, funerals had to take place after just a matter of days, because of decomposition. With today's preservation methods, families have a bit more time to prepare and get affairs in order. This helps families make arrangements, and to pick a day to hold the funeral.

What happens at a traditional Catholic funeral? ›

The first part is the Vigil service, which takes place at the wake. Next is the Funeral Mass, which is the traditional funeral ceremony. Finally, there is the Rite of Committal. Reciting the Rosary, or a set of prayers, is a tradition that's performed at the wake.

How long will a funeral home hold a body? ›

When properly stored and cooled, a body can be kept for up to six weeks at the funeral home, so you'll have plenty of flexibility when planning your memorial service. Cremation has become an increasingly popular option for people around the country. In fact, more bodies are now cremated than buried.

Who gives eulogy at funeral? ›

There is no hard and fast rule as to who should give the eulogy speech at a funeral. It's typically given by those who were particularly close, or had a special relationship with, the loved one who passed. It could be a best friend, a spouse, a child or grandchild, or even a co-worker.

Why is the head always to the left in a casket? ›

The head is commonly turned to the left in a casket to ensure the body looks more comfortable and peaceful, while also allowing mourners a better view of the deceased's face. Occasionally, the head is also turned to the left for reasons related to Christian traditionalism.

What's the hardest part of a funeral? ›

The 10 Hardest Parts of the Funeral Industry
  • One. The Silence. Silence is the voice of death. ...
  • Two. The Money. Aside from the silence, tallying up the bill is always difficult for me. ...
  • Three. Flirting. ...
  • Four. Tragic deaths. ...
  • Five. Transference. ...
  • Six. Morticians not Magicians. ...
  • Seven. The Night Calls. ...
  • Eight. Meeting Our Own Demons.
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What are the 4 components of embalming? ›

Typically, embalming fluid contains a mixture of formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, methanol, and other solvents.

What does a typical funeral service look like? ›

A funeral service follows the viewing/visitation and is held at a funeral home, church, or other event space. Traditional funerals usually include elements such as prayers, eulogies, readings, and music. Afterwards, the body is transported by procession to the cemetery/burial location and interred in the grave.

What is the purpose of attending a funeral? ›

One of the most important reasons to go to a funeral is to pay your respects. Being there shows that you want to support the family and help say a meaningful goodbye. At the same time, it allows you to honor the deceased and the memories you shared with them.

What is one of the purposes of a funeral? ›

Funerals underpin a necessary part of grieving as they reinforce the reality that the death has actually happened. We need to allow our grief to surface and a funeral provides a safe and appropriate place to show and share our feelings with others. This sets the foundations for 'good grief' or healthy grieving.

What is the purpose of the funeral Rule? ›

Under the FTC's Funeral Rule, consumers have the right to get a general price list from a funeral provider when they ask about funeral arrangements. They also have the right to choose the funeral goods and services they want (with some exceptions), and funeral providers must state this right on the general price list.

What is the purpose of a living funeral? ›

A living funeral is a celebration for someone who's alive and able to attend the event. It's a celebration of life with the opportunity to say final goodbyes, offering everyone a chance to leave nothing unsaid and to find a sense of closure.

Why do they close the casket before the funeral? ›

Even if people believe that the open casket helps the mourners to accept death and say their final goodbye to the deceased, studies are proving wrong. A closed casket gives the mourners a sense of finality, easing out the acceptance of death.

Why do they close the casket at funerals? ›

A Closed Casket Funeral Preserves Final Memories

Many people choose to have a closed casket in order to preserve their final memory of the deceased. Closed caskets are also better for anyone who passed away from an accident that caused changes to their appearance.

Should ex wife attend funeral? ›

In general, if you're on good terms with your ex-spouse and ex-family, you should attend the funeral. You were a big part of your spouse's life at one time. Even if you've gone separate ways, those memories and feelings are still very real. If you were on good terms, you'll likely be welcome to any funeral events.

What are the do's and don'ts of a funeral? ›

Dos and Don'ts at a Funeral
  • Do Dress Conservatively. Never attend a funeral in anything that stands out or is distracting. ...
  • Do Arrive On Time. ...
  • Do Act Normal. ...
  • Don't Sit Anywhere. ...
  • Don't Look at Your Phone. ...
  • Don't Be Scared of Religious Aspects.

Why white is used for funeral? ›

Funeral flowers are white for a number of reasons. First, white is traditionally associated with purity and innocence. This makes it an ideal color to symbolize the life of a young person or child who has passed away.

What are last funeral rights? ›

During the last funeral rites, an heir is installed to take over the responsibilities of their dead relative. The heir is always advised to emulate the good works of the person he or she has succeeded. They are normally advised to be courageous, hardworking, social and hospitable to all, among other things.

Do funeral homes wash the body? ›

Once a funeral home has picked up the body and brought it to their facility, they will then clean and dress and/or shroud the body. Afterward, the body will be placed in refrigeration to keep it cool until the day of burial, at which point the body will be transported to the burial site.

How long can a funeral home hold the body? ›

When properly stored and cooled, a body can be kept for up to six weeks at the funeral home, so you'll have plenty of flexibility when planning your memorial service. Cremation has become an increasingly popular option for people around the country. In fact, more bodies are now cremated than buried.

How long should you stay at a funeral? ›

You need not stay long; fifteen minutes gives you enough time to express your sympathy and offer your support. Of course, if the bereaved indicates they would like you to remain for a while, take your cue from them and stay longer. Use your own judgment.

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