This post highlights general funeral practices for the Mormon Church, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). The actual practices of Mormon individuals, families, and congregations may vary.
Treatment of the body: The body may be viewed, either at a visitation event at a funeral home and/or during the funeral. Typically the body is buried in all white clothing, signifying purity. If the deceased received blessings in the LDS Temple, he or she would be dressed in the clothing worn on that occasion. Embalming and cremation are accepted.
Funeral or memorial services: Funerals usually take place within one week, although there is no set limit. The timing is the choice of the immediate family and depends on circumstances. The service may be held in a church, a funeral home, or at the graveside, and lasts about 60 to 90 minutes, sometimes longer. The officer of the church, typically the bishop of the congregation, conducts the service, and speakers deliver eulogies. A program indicating the order of the ceremony is usually distributed to attendees. The service includes prayers, hymns, one or more eulogies given by family or friends, and a sermon. The speakers will use Scriptures and the congregation may use hymnals.
Do’s and Don’ts: Sign the guest book and sit where you wish. If arriving late, enter quietly. It is not appropriate to take pictures or video record the service, but audio recording may be okay to do if it can be done discreetly. Having an open casket is the choice of the family. When viewing the body, which is optional, observe it with dignity and reverence. Express your condolences to the family at the service.
Interment: Guests should attend unless it is a private interment, which is rare. The grave is dedicated in a prayer offered by a lay priest, who is usually, but not necessarily, a family member related to the deceased. Burial then follows.
Post-Event Reception: It is appropriate to visit the bereaved at home after the funeral. The meal is prepared by the “Relief Society,” the woman’s organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. No alcoholic beverages are served. No religious services are held in the home.
Gifts: Upon learning about the death, telephone or visit the bereaved to offer condolences and your assistance, if needed. It is appropriate to send flowers or make a contribution, but not expected. Food for bereaved family members is usually prepared and organized by the woman’s organization of the local congregation.
Mourning period: There is no set time that the mourner stays away from work or social events. The length of absence is at the discretion of the mourner.
Mourning customs: There are no specific LDS mourning customs or rituals for observing the anniversary of the death.
Notes: Because of the LDS belief in life after death, their funerals are more of a celebration of life, a happy occasion where memories of the deceased are shared and family bonds are rekindled.
For more details on this religion’s history, beliefs, and funeral practices, you may wish to consult this excellent resource: The Perfect Stranger’s Guide to Funerals and Grieving Practices: A Guide to Etiquette in Other People’s Religious Ceremonies (SkyLight Paths Publishing, Woodstock, VT), or visit Funeralwise.com.
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