Funeral services, no matter what religion or faith they observe may abide by certain traditions and customs to enhance their spiritual meaning and sentiment in tribute of the person who passed. It is important to understand what these customs and traditions are so you best know how to pay your respects.
If you are attending a Mormon funeral in the near future, you may be wondering what the typical traditions and etiquette a Mormon funeral service observes. We have put together a guide here to help you understand the religious traditions of a Mormon funeral so you are prepared and know what to expect.
In the Mormon religion, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints, it is believed that death represents the soul’s separation from the body. Mormons believe that after passing, a person will be judged based on the goodness of their spirit. Souls that are deemed good will be granted respite in paradise, while those not deemed worthy will go to a place called spirit prison. As such, honoring traditional customs after a Mornom has passed is important to celebrate the person’s life and to pay homage to their soul as it makes its way to its afterlife.
When a Mormon dies, according to the Mormon religion, a Bishop should be contacted to begin coordinating funeral arrangements and services. Note, that while it is not required to necessarily hold a Mormon funeral service in an exclusively Mormon funeral home, the funeral home should understand and be acquainted with the religion’s customs. As long as a Bishop oversees the funeral proceedings, it is considered in observance of the Mormon religion. In addition to helping make funeral arrangements, the Bishop can help inform loved ones of the decedent of their passing, as well as help organize their obituary.
Typically, a Mormon funeral service will be held within a week of the decedent’s passing, but according to the religion’s beliefs, should not be performed on Sundays. A wake or viewing of the body may also be scheduled in the same week During the wake, the family of the decedent will view the body of their loved one, one final time, and may ask the Bishop to send prayers to their loved one before the casket is to be ultimately closed and prepared for funeral services and burial.
Close friends, family and loved ones may be in attendance at a Mormon funeral whether or not they are themselves part of the Mormon religion. However, according to Mormon customs, unless you are otherwise invited by the family to do so, you should not be present at the burial. In some cases, the family may welcome close friends to participate in the burial even if they are not Mormon.
A Mormon funeral service carries an air of melancholy and celebration as the decedent’s life and legacy is honored. Normally, the ward bishop will oversee the funeral proceedings, while other men in attendance may also speak and share stories of the decedent’s life. It is also customary for guests and all in attendance to perform prayers and hymns during this time. As a LDS funeral is seen as an opportunity to educate those outside of the Mormon religion, some time may be dedicated to sharing the message of the LDS during the funeral service.
As a Mormon funeral is an affair of sentiment and deep respect for the decedent, guests should wear conservative clothing to the funeral proceedings. Wearing conservative clothing is an important aspect of the religion anyway in everyday life. Traditionally, men should wear a white shirt and tie, or a suit, while women should be donned in modest dresses that conceal their shoulders and reach below their knees.
It is not necessary to come bearing gifts and money to an LDS funeral service, but a small gift, cards sending a message of your condolences, or flowers in a vase are welcome tokens of your love and will always be appreciated. It is also common to bring food to grieving family’s home.