Do Mormons Have Funerals?

by Sarah Cairoli

Mormons, or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, do have funerals, although the way they are conducted has generated some controversy within the Church. In many ways, Mormon funeral services are like those in other branches of Christianity, and include readings from scripture and singing. However, traditional Mormon funerals focus more on the lessons of their faith and less on the deceased, and this is what has generated controversy.

Traditional Views

Mormon clergy expect funerals to be somber events. The expectation is that family members of the deceased will find comfort in their faith, and that readings from scripture will help them to accept the death and move forward. Mormon clergy have noted that many people who do not regularly attend church do come for funerals, and that funerals can provide an opportunity to convert nonbelievers. Closed caskets are typical, and family members are discouraged from speaking.

Emerging Opinions

According to Boyd K. Packer, the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it has become increasingly common for members of the Mormon Church to ask that personal remembrances of the deceased be included in funeral services. Family members are also becoming more involved in selecting the scripture readings and songs to be included in funerals, adds Funeralwise.com. Clergy and the deceased's family generally work to find a balance of the traditional views and the family's wishes for each funeral. However, some funeral customs are very common in the Mormon Church.

Common Traditions

Unlike Mormon temples, Mormon churches are open to everyone.

It is customary for guests to be seated before the service, while family members of the deceased follow the casket into the service. The congregation typically stands to show respect for the dead and surviving family. Funeral guests who are not Mormon can participate fully in the service. Mormon funeral services last an hour or more, and are usually held within a week of a Church member's death. All Mormon clergy are volunteers.

Graveside Services

Graveside services, for which the attendants receive an invitation, often follow a Mormon funeral. Some Mormons prefer to have private graveside services. If closing the grave is not part of the graveside service, someone stands guard by the grave until it is closed. Because Mormons believe that at some point in the future -- at the Resurrection -- their spirits will reunite with their bodies, at which point they will go to live with their Heavenly Father, so careful care of the body is important.

About the Author

Sarah Cairoli began her writing career in 2002, as a reporter for the "High Country Independent Press" in Belgrade, Mont. She then spent two years writing and editing for an online publishing company, and earned her master's degree in English from Northern Arizona University. Cairoli also writes for "Bozeman Magazine."

Photo Credits

  • Handout/Getty Images News/Getty Images