Mormon Funeral Traditions

Overview

Published: 12/11/2009

by Funeral Home Resource Team

Photos

As with many religions, Mormons believe that at death, the spirit and the body separate. People go to judgment by God. Death is something to mourn but is also a time of hope because it is seen as a step into the next life and eternal life with God. Mormon Funerals are generally a time of celebration and family reunion.

Mormon Funeral Practices: Funeral services are usually held in an LDS chapel or mortuary. Burial is preferred to cremation because internment in the earth symbolizes the return of dust to dust. However, Mormons are allowed to cremate a body, as well. Mormons consider life a journey through mortality and death merely a stepping stone into the next stage of eternity. And because Morman facilities do not charge their members for the use of the chapel, it makes an excellent place to hold the funeral at no charge, which can get excessive when using mortuary facilities.

Mormon Mourning Rituals


The gravesite of the deceased is viewed as a sacred spot for the family to visit and tend.
In the "Basic Beliefs" section of the website, Mormon.org it gives a brief but concise, overview of this concept:
From an earthly perspective, physical death may seem like an end, though it is really a step forward in Heavenly Father's plan. At the time of physical death, your spirit will leave your body and go to the spirit world, where you will continue to learn and progress. In the spirit world, your memories of this life and the knowledge you have gained on Earth will remain with you.
Death will not change your personality or your desire for good or evil. If you choose to follow Jesus Christ during your life on Earth, you will be at peace in the spirit world. Those who choose not to follow Christ and do not repent will be unhappy…

Viewing and Prayer


The usual starting procedure of the whole affair, regarding the funeral, would begin with a "viewing" and "family prayer." A viewing would be limited to family or close personal friends, but could be open to anyone who wishes to pay their respects. Following the viewing, the family is gathered in a ceremonial type fashion, a family prayer is offered, and a final closing of the casket is preformed. Typically the person is buried in all white clothing, signifying purity. If a person has had the opportunity of receiving the blessings offered in the LDS Temple, they will be buried in the clothing worn there also.
The service begins and ends with a prayer, and commonly a hymn is sung. The procedure in between the prayer in left entirely up to the decision of the family. The most typical ceremony includes eulogies (one or more), reminiscences (by either family or friends), possibly a special musical number, and a sermon (usually given by one of the presiding officers of the church, but it can be anyone.) As the Salt Lake Tribune describes the funeral it is, "light on ceremony and heavy on story-telling." The actual service itself can take anywhere from one to three hours typically, depending on how long winded the speakers are. In some occasions, but not typically, people are asked if they would like to add any comments.
At the close of the service, the audience may or may not be invited to attend the ceremony at the actual gravesite itself. At the gravesite, a small service is rendered as a Melchizedek Priesthood holder, who has the authority to act in the name of God, offers a "Dedication" of the grave. This is done in a specific outlined manner as follows:
* 1. Addresses Heavenly Father.
* 2. States that he is acting by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood.
* 3. Dedicates and consecrates the burial plot as the resting place for the body of the deceased.
* 4. (Where appropriate) prays that the place may be hallowed and protected until the Resurrection.
* 5. Asks the Lord to comfort the family and expresses thoughts as the Spirit directs.
* 6. Closes in the name of Jesus Christ.

Mormon Funeral Attire



Out of respect for the sanctity of the occasion, most who attend a Mormon funeral are clothed in "Sunday" attire. Men typically wear suits, and women dresses, however, a dress code is not required.

The Mormon Funeral Luncheon


After the ceremony itself, the family is usually gathered together with close friends and a meal is prepared by the "Relief Society", which is the woman's organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. There a typical meal of ham or turkey, funeral potatoes, Jell-O salad, rolls, and dessert is provided.