Latter-day Saints — What to Expect at the Funeral Service
During an LDS funeral, the family follows behind as the casket is wheeled into a church chapel. The guests have already been seated and they rise to show respect to the dead, and the family.
When the service begins, you can expect to hear an opening prayer, a reading, at least one song, though there may be several, a few words from the ward Bishop and a final blessing. The ward Bishop may be the only man to speak, though other men may stand and speak as well. There may be some variances in the tone of the service, and services often last from one to three hours.
Generally, Mormon funerals are meant to be a teaching opportunity for those who have not heard the gospel. However, there seems to be some controversy about the proper focus for speakers during a funeral. On the one hand, Boyd K. Packer, president of the Quorum of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints, has expressed the opinion that Mormon funerals should be “spiritually impressive and when the family insists that several family members speak in a funeral, then the speaking should not be about the deceased person. Instead, any talking should focus on the Atonement, the Resurrection, and the comforting promises revealed in the scriptures. Now it’s all right to have a family member speak at a funeral, but if they do, their remarks should be in keeping with the spirit of the meeting.”
Not all agree. Many comments can be found posted on websites that take exception to Packer’s view. The gist of these comments is that it is appropriate to talk about the deceased at a funeral.
What to do about LDS Graveside services?
Following the funeral service, guests may be invited to the graveside service for burial. If guests are not invited, then you should assume you are not invited to attend. It may be specifically for those in the family, or for those who are members of the Latter Day Saints. In some cases, the graveside service is the only service held for the deceased.
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. The dedication typically follows this model:
- Addresses Heavenly Father.
- States that he is acting by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood.
- Dedicates and consecrates the burial plot as the resting place for the body of the deceased.
- (Where appropriate) prays that the place may be hallowed and protected until the Resurrection.
- Asks the Lord to comfort the family and expresses thoughts as the Spirit directs.
- Closes in the name of Jesus Christ.
Typically a Priesthood holder will stand guard until the grave has been closed if closing is not a part of the graveside service.