Not knowing what happens at a funeral can make attending or arranging a service especially daunting. Funeral services honour the life of a person who has died according to their own funeral wishes, including their religion’s beliefs on funerals and the preferences of their family.
After the funeral service they will be cremated or buried, in a cemetery or natural burial ground, depending on their beliefs and wishes.
A funeral is a unique tribute to the life of an individual, so each one will be different, but they generally last about an hour and consist of four stages:
• funeral procession
• funeral ceremony
• reception (wake)
On the day of the funeral, your funeral directors will place the coffin containing your loved one in a hearse and slowly
drive them to a church of their choice or to the chapel at the cemetery for the funeral. The hearse will be followed by a procession of other cars going to the funeral normally lead by close family of the person who has died.
A funeral director will often lead a funeral procession by foot when they arrive at the church or cemetery.
The funeral ceremony will take place either at a church before coming to the cemetery or at the chapel in the cemetery grounds. In most cases the procession will stop at the cemetery office to exchange necessary paperwork and to advise cemetery staff that they are here. The procession will then either walk straight to the grave where committal is taking place or to the chapel for the ceremony.
If a service takes place in the chapel, family and friends arrive at the chapel and when the service is to start mourners can either be seated inside the chapel or follow the coffin in where it will be rested on trestles at the front.
The service itself will normally have been discussed in advance with a minister or celebrant and normally takes around 30 minutes, during this time music can be played using the sound system available.
After the ceremony, the coffin and mourners will either drive or walk to the graveside for the coffin to be placed in the grave.
The service will involve a celebrant or religious minister saying a few words around the grave before the coffin is gently lowered by pallbearers.
After the service the family may wish to celebrate a loved one’s life by holding a wake at a different venue.