The Elements of a Funeral — with Burial or Cremation
Visitation-- sometimes called the wake, calling hours or viewing, the visitation is a time for family and friends to gather and support one another in their grief. Often the body is present in an open or closed casket, allowing those who loved the deceased to acknowledge the reality of the death and to have the privilege of saying goodbye. Receiving friends through a visitation activates the family's support system and allows people to express their concern and love for each other.
|Eulogy -- Also called the remembrance or homily, the eulogy acknowledges the unique life of the deceased and affirms the significance of that life for all who shared in it. The eulogy can be delivered by clergy, a family member or friend of the deceased. Instead of a traditional eulogy by one person, the family may ask several people to share memories. |
Procession -- Also called the cortege, this is the procession from the funeral to the gravesite. It is usually led by the hearse containing the casket. The procession is a symbol of mutual support and of the public honoring the death as mourners proceed to the final resting place.
Committal Service -- Whether the body will be buried in a casket or the cremated remains will be interred in an urn or scattered, the gravesite ceremony is the final opportunity to say goodbye. Accompanying a body to its final resting place and saying a few last words brings a necessary feeling of closure to the funeral process. Families are often deeply touched by this ceremony, and its memory resonates for years.
Gathering -- Most funerals are followed by a gathering of friends and family. This informal time allows family and friends to tell stories about the loved one, to cry, to laugh, to support one another. It is a time of release after the more formal elements of funeral ceremony. The gathering is also a transition, a rite of passage back to living again. It demonstrates the continuity of life, even in the face of death.