Jehovah’s Witness Funeral Service Rituals

Based on the Christian Bible, the Jehovah’s Witnesses faith is known for proselytizing and their expectations that the world soon will end. Then, the fulfillment of God’s kingdom will occur and Christ will return to rule. They also believe that, in the meantime, God demands unconditional obedience to the teachings of the Bible.

Members of the Church devote time and energy to sharing their ideas with others. They do not vote, participate in politics or join interfaith groups. In terms of death, they believe that the soul waits, in an unconscious state, for resurrection to life. Most believers will be raised to an earthly paradise, but a selected few will rule with Christ in Heaven.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses funeral service is similar to other Christian faiths but 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.

Services take place in a funeral home or Kingdom Hall, the Jehovah’s Witnesses place of worship. There may or may not be an open casket. The Congregation Elder conducts the service and delivers a talk, which may be tape recorded. You should check with the Elder regarding the acceptability of cameras or video equipment, however, are not permitted. Guests who are not of this faith may participate in the service to the extent that they feel comfortable. At the graveside, the scriptures are referenced and a prayer is read.

There is no rule concerning when the bereaved may return to work and social activities, but visits from friends after the funeral are welcome.

Jehovah’s Witness Quick Reference Guide
Length of Service15 – 30 minutes
Flowers?Yes (See our Sympathy Flowers)
Food?Yes
Dress Code? (Men/Women)Dark & Conservative / Men: Jacket & Tie
Recording Devices?Voice recorder only. Check with Elder regarding video recording.
Source of Readings?The Bible
Open Casket?Depends
Return to Work? (Days)Depends
No. of Days to Mourn?Depends
Embalming?Accepted
Cremation?Accepted
Body/Organ Donation?Not expressly forbidden, but church beliefs regarding blood transfusion should be taken into account. It is generally thought that as long as all blood has been removed from the organs, donation or transplantation is permissible.

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