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Posted: 9/28/2010 5:20 AM PDT
The only thing I can add to this is yet another custom that's on the decline - but might add an interesting touch to your story. In the South, it use to be quite customary for friends and family of the deceased to bring food to the home of the family. The belief being, no one would feel like cooking, and company was sure to come.
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Posted: 5/9/2010 6:05 PM PDT

Beruthiel
A couple of extra points. 1. The pall bearers may be provided by the undertakers, or they may be friends or members of the family. 2. In the UK, even if the person does not come from a religious background, there is usually a short approx. 10 minute religious service at the crematorium, unless the deceased or their immediate family hold STRONG atheist beliefs. 3. In contrast, a funeral mass may take over an hour, with the interrment [or cremation] subsequen. 4. Cremation is now much more common than burial, unless the family is Roman Catholic. 5. In UK, most churchyards are full, so if there is a burial, it may take place at some distance from the church where the funeral was held. An additoonal short service will take place at the graveside, culminating in the throwing of earth onto the coffin, by the mourners, starting with the most closely related.. 6. It is a custom dying out, but sometimes the deceased will still be kept at home; the mourners then gather there "to pay their last respects", before following the coffin to the church. [Thus the whole proceeding can encompass 3 locations!] 7. The full, "traditional" funeral, with hearse drawn by black-plumed horses & followed by walking mourners is pretty much obsolete, unless you are royalty or come from the East End of London. 8. Up to anout 10 years ago, a hearse with a coffin on board would drive slowly; no one, whether connected to funeral or not, would overtake. 9. Also people in the street would stop and stand respectfully - men with hats off - as a funeral cortege passed. This was obsolete, but has revived in reponse to the return of war dead. I'm sorry, I can't provide much information about other religious traditions. Unfortunately, I have attended a large number - and variety -of Christian and agnostic ones. My impressionis that the 'default' differs considerably between UK & US.
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Posted: 2/4/2010 6:24 PM PST
It seems to me that the concept of a funeral service being held in the traditional fashion, such as in a church with clergy present, hymns, prayers etc. is being avoided more and more these days. I, until recently, felt that the change from a solemn, sedate, formal church funeral being held to ensure the soul got all the encouragement needed to be accepted in Heaven, was yet another a loss to our traditional past. I have since changed my mind and I now believe that a 'celebration of one's life' is the way to go. A person should be remembered by his or her friends for the things he or she had done while living among us and such a celebration, I feel, is proper. The sending off of one's soul is for one's personal religion to take care of and should not need to be assisted by those of us left behind. A funeral therefore should be one of memories left and a thank you to the deceased for having lived among us.
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Posted: 1/24/2010 9:51 AM PST

Avarius
Yeah it depends primarily on the background and choice of the person or persons family on how the funeral goes.
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Posted: 1/19/2010 11:16 AM PST
I've attended more than my fair share, but they vary widely based on the wishes of the people involved. My mother donated her body to science, so there was no funeral, only a memorial service held at our home where friends and family gathered to talk about her life. Nobody wore black and there was no clergy present. My Grandmother thought funerals were horrid affairs and requested a simple graveside service of no more than 20 minutes and no open casket under any circumstances. Of course, after she was gone my Aunt took over and we had a viewing at the funeral home, a two hour church service, and then about a half hour service at graveside. My husbands service was by far the most complex. He was killed in Iraq, so there was a huge media circus of a memorial service, complete with protesters and a patriotic motor cycle gang, in our home town where three different ministers talked (to spite the fact he was an atheist) as well as literally dozens of people that we'd never met. After that there was a second service in D.C., full of Army brass, who all got up to talk, and then the burial at Arlington where there was yet another service, in the driving rain. All this just goes to show you that almost anything can pass for a funeral. Just don't go overboard on the tears and histrionics. Even at the end of a long illness, family is usually too numb for real grief to set in. Hope this is helpful and good luck on your project.
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Posted: 1/10/2010 2:00 PM PST
I don't know if this is relevant, but in Ireland the wake is held before the burial, and the corpse is present, usually in a realtive's home. Refreshments are served, and the people say goodbye, often reminicing of the induviduals life. It isn't a particularly sombre occasion as opposed to the funeral, but it is generally a respectful and quiet affair, depending on the nature of the death. If the corpse isn't open casket material (i.e. it is disfigured or something) the coffin will be closed, but other than that, it is generally open.
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Posted: 1/4/2010 11:42 PM PST

ZanneP
Here in the UK, a religious funeral held in a church might go something like this. Non family members and cousins etc will arrive at the church/service first leaving the front rows empty. Immediate family will arrive with the coffin which will be carried into the church by the pall bearers, followed by the family. The coffin will be placed on a stand at the front so the gathered assembly can see it. Immediate family sit at the front in the vacant pews. The clergyman will conduct the service, which will include giving thanks for the life of the dead person. This will usually take the form of a biography. (A celebration of that person’s life is often held at a later date.) Readings by family members are not uncommon. After the service, the coffin and family will leave the church first to go to either the crematorium or the graveyard for interment. Sometimes, only family members attend this part. People usually wear black, or something of a sombre nature. If several children are present, eg if it is a child’s funeral, they will often wear their school uniform as a mark of respect. Afterwards there is a wake, where refreshment is served.
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Posted: 1/4/2010 4:24 AM PST

Toma
I haven't attended many funerals (personal reasons) during my life, so I don't really remember what happens in them anymore. I am writing a funeral scene in a book, and I need some kind of line of events that happen during usual funerals. -- Thanks, Toma.
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