by Funeral Home Resource Team
Jehovah's Witnesses Funeral Service are based in their belief that death is considered a state of non-existence, based on their understanding of Ecclesiastes 9:5, "For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all". Witnesses believe that the only hope for life after death is in the resurrection, which they say involves re-creation by God of the same individual with a new body. The Jehovah Witness funeral will resemble a normal Sunday public talk at a meeting of Jehovah's Witnesses. Jehovah witnesses do not perform traditional Christian funerals and do not believe in doing things to honor the deceased, such as wakes and memorial ceremonies. The Jehovah Witness funeral itself will include a brief discussion or speech about the life of the deceased, the beliefs of the deceased, and the Bible's hope for resurrection. The Bible will be guide for the talk. The talk will be preceded and followed by a song and prayer.
Jehovah witness Funeral Traditions
A Jehovah's Witness funeral service is led by a Jehovah's Witness elder and is seen as mainly an opportunity to preach the message of the Jehovah's Witnesses. The Jehovah’s Witnesses funeral service lasts only 15 or 30 minutes. The funeral usually takes place within a week after death. At the service, men wear a suit and tie, and women are expected to dress modestly, but neither needs a head covering. Flowers and food may be offered to the family before, during or after the service. Jehovah Witnesses Funeral Services take place in a funeral home or Kingdom Hall, the Jehovah’s Witnesses place of worship. Cameras or video equipment are not permitted. Guests who are not of this faith may participate in the service to the extent that they feel comfortable. At graveside, the scriptures are referenced and a prayer is read.
Jehovah's Witnesses have no particular rituals associated with funerals or burials, and few funeral customs common in the United States are rejected by Jehovah's Witnesses. However, there are a few differences between Jehovah’s Witness funerals and the funeral traditions customary to non-Jehovah’s Witnesses. These differences reflect the quiet strength, modesty, and simplicity of beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses.
Beliefs about Jehovah’s Witness Funerals
Why does a Jehovah’s Witness funeral seem less commemorative than other funerals? The answer is that believers focus on God and His calling, rather than on elaborate religious ceremonies or political or worldly events. As a result, their rites, including funerals and weddings, tend to be relatively simple and based on Scripture. Since Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe the dead are conscious or that they have any influence on the living, they avoid such customs as wakes, funeral celebrations and anniversaries, and sacrifices for the dead. Compared to funeral services of other faiths, a Jehovah’s Witness funeral service tends to be very short, usually 15 to 30 minutes in duration. A Jehovah’s Witness funeral program includes a short summary of the deceased’s life often given by an elder in the church. A few favored scripture passages may be read during the Jehovah’s Witness funeral, along with one or two songs and a prayer. Typically Jehovah’s Witness funerals take place a week after death and are held in a Kingdom Hall, a plain building used for services and rites. Because Jehovah’s Witnesses value modesty and adherence to the Bible, a Jehovah’s Witness funeral program follows the example of Jesus' burial: discreet and modest, without a show of social or economic status.
Jehovah Witnessess Funeral Customs & Etiquette
The appropriate attire for both men and women attending a Jehovah’s Witness funeral is dark colors, but not necessarily black. Men are expected to dress in a suit and tie, and women customarily dress conservatively, with minimal accessories. Visitors are welcome; therefore, for instance, it is acceptable for a Jehovah’s Witness dating a non-believer to bring their significant other to the funeral service. Visitors are not expected to participate in the funeral, but it is considerate for guests to dress appropriately for the services. It is a great sign of respect to bring a Bible and follow along with the handful of scriptures the speaker reads during the Jehovah’s Witness funeral service. Flowers or gifts to the family of the deceased are given before or after the funeral service, thus keeping with the tradition of a simple and modest Jehovah’s Witness funeral. Although Jehovah’s Witnesses do not conduct wakes or memorial services, a visit by family and friends afterward is encouraged. Members of the deceased’s family are not expected to have a mourning period or to refrain from working. Even though Jehovah's Witnesses focus primarily on God's work on Earth, and try to return to normal lives as quickly as possible after a death, they do honor and remember those who have passed.