Going to a funeral for someone of an unfamiliar religion? Here’s what you need to know.
Jewish funerals traditionally take place within 24 hours of death. After a solemn service in a funeral home and burial, the deceased’s closest relatives — spouse, children, parents, siblings — observe a seven-day mourning period, or shiva, at home; visitors help them pray and comfort them in their loss. It is fitting for someone making a shiva call to take prepared foods, a fruit basket or meat platter. Sending flowers to the funeral home, burial site or family home isn’t customary.
Prior to a Catholic service, there’s usually a two-day visitation period in a funeral home, where people offer condolences to family of the deceased. Visitors approach the casket for a moment of silence — they stand, kneel or bow their head — and pay their respects to relatives. To express one’s sorrow, one can send flowers to the funeral home or give a Catholic mass card — you make a donation to a Church, which then says prayers or mass for the deceased. Anyone can attend the funeral and participate, but only Catholics should receive Communion.
Hindu services take place in a funeral home, typically within days of the death. It’s customary for mourners to wear white, simple clothing. They pay their respects to the deceased, usually in an open casket, and family members. A pandit, or Hindu priest, presides over the funeral, and the deceased’s eldest son — or next of kin — is a key participant. It’s not typical to send flowers. After prayers, immediate family members witness cremation. Scattering of ashes occurs at the family’s convenience.
Sikh services take place in a funeral home, typically within days of the death. Prior to the service, mourners must cover their heads and remove their shoes. Respects are paid to the deceased, usually in an open casket, and family members. A granthi, or Sikh priest, presides over the funeral, and the deceased’s eldest son — or next of kin — is a key participant. After prayers, immediate family members will witness cremation. Scattering of ashes occurs at the family’s convenience. After the service, all are invited to a Sikh temple for prayers and lunch or dinner. Inside the temple, heads must be covered and shoes removed.
Muslim services typically occur within 24 hours. Generally, mourners attend mosque for a funeral service. Anyone can go to the mosque, but it is required that women cover their heads and dress modestly. After the service, family and close friends attend the burial. Certain groups permit only men at the burial, with women visiting at a later time. In certain cultures, flowers are sent to the grave on the day of the burial, but this not a common practice.
Buddhist services are typically held in a funeral home, within days of the death. Mourners usually wear black and can show their condolences by sending flowers to the funeral home or by making a charitable donation in the name of the deceased. Traditionally, donations are sent to the family, typically between $20 and $50. Immediate family members will witness cremation. After the service, guests are typically invited to join the family for lunch in a restaurant. Buddhist services can also take place in temple.