Adaptive Funeral Service Rituals

By LaVone V. Hazell, MS, FT, LFD

In this day and age, it is not unusual to have what is termed “Adaptive” funerals. Individuals of various ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds can be represented during the funeral service. In most instances the family members will determine the funeral rites. In order to include all members of an inter-faith family, it is not unusual to conduct the funeral services in a chapel, as opposed to a specific church. Each religion can be included by having a representative speak on behalf of the deceased. A Priest, an Imam, a Minister, a Rabbi could have a few minutes during the funeral service to honor the deceased.

Religious artifacts and other sacred symbols may be displayed at the funeral service, at the discretion of the family member who is responsible for the funeral arrangements. The family may want to use items that are more alike than different, such as the cloth covering of the casket which, for example, are used by both Greek Orthodox and Catholics in their services. Both religions also use symbolic candles, called the Taper, in Greek Orthodox services and Requiem Candles in Catholic services.

Most religious and ethnic groups also have a repast (i.e., meal or banquet) after the burial or other final rites. The family may conduct the repast in the church or at home. In contemporary society, many families have opted to have their repast in local restaurants. During this exchange of food, the life of the deceased is celebrated.

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