Saying goodbye to a friend, loved one, child or spouse is never easy. The funeral process, though sad, is a needed part of grieving as a means of saying goodbye and as a memorial to loved ones. Those who have never attended a funeral may not know what to expect, and knowing a few simple procedures common in funerals helps to understand the process.
Most funerals involve a religious service and are generally based in the beliefs of the individual. Funerals can vary greatly in style because of this, but they are generally somber occasions, with religious preachers commonly officiating over the service, with family sometimes giving eulogies of the person's life. The preacher also offers warm praises of things about the person's personality, professional or personal life. It is a time to celebrate the person's life, and remember the impact they made on others. The preacher also prays for the deceased and his grieving family. It is common to cry at funerals, as family and friends are reminded this is the last time they will see their loved one. Friends and family also trade stories of the deceased, and friends informally share with other friends and family members how they knew the person. Some funerals are much more informal, particularly in families that have chosen not to have a formal funeral, and simply offer a time of condolence without a religious service.
Typical style of dress for funerals is conservative dress, with families often wearing dresses and suits, typically in black. Friends typically dress in casual to dressy clothing, also in a variety of dark colors, in respect for their loved one. Various flowers adorn the room as a last gift, and in respect to the loved one. Combinations of flower arrangements are common, with red roses being the most popular flower at funerals. It is common for both family and friends to send flowers to the funeral parlor in preparation for the funeral, offering their condolences and sorrow to the family. It is also acceptable to give money to the person's favorite cause if they died of an illness instead of flowers if the family requests this. This is particularly acceptable if the person died of disease, such as cancer, kidney disease or others.
Music that the loved one enjoyed, or favorite songs are often played at funerals as a way to say goodbye. Church members, family or friends sometimes sing a favorite hymn of the deceased if they were active in local churches. It is normal for funeral directors to direct seating depending if the person in attendance is family or friend. Family normally sits in the first few pews, or sometimes to the right wall of the preacher. Some services include a moment of silence in memory of the person in which heads are bowed and silent prayers are said on the person's behalf. It is not uncommon to see pictures of the person adorning the room. Some more modern funerals also offer video of special moments in the person's life.
Funeral directors typically release those in attendance row by row, who walk by the open casket of the deceased to say goodbye, and then shake the hands of the family, or hug them and express their sorrow. Some funerals are closed casket, particularly if the cause of death was a severe injury. The decision to offer open or closed casket funerals is generally made by the family. Normally, however, funerals are open casket, unless the person's wishes were to be cremated.
If the person was not cremated and chose ground or mausoleum burial, a grave side service for close friends and family members is held. They follow a hearse to a cemetery, where the loved one's body is transported to the final resting place. The preacher again prays, often offering a prayer from the person's bible, or spiritual guidance book, and prays over the person for the last time. Grieving families often attend a last dinner of the loved one at a local church or other establishment where the person enjoyed dining or gathering with others. This is done in memory of the person, and is a time to share memories, sorrow, and joys with those the family are close to.