There are so many questions that need to be answered, and it’s possible that this is the first time you have taken a moment to think about what you want for the burial of a loved one.
There are a variety of questions that need to be answered, and we are here to help every step of the way.
We’re always available to answer your questions and provide assistance, and should we have neglected to include your particular question about burial and funeral services in general, or the specific services we offer; please call us.
Just like Baptisms and Weddings, Funerals are in integral part of the Christian Orthodox life. Orthodoxy regards death as the separation of the soul from the body. The soul first undergoes partial judgment, where behavior and character during life determine the final resting place, Heaven or Hell. After Jesus Christ returns to the earth and His kingdom is established, the final judgment will occur. Even though the Orthodox Church funeral service is considered a crucial process of prayer for the deceased’ soul.
While there are a number of variations, the Orthodox funeral generally consists of three Services. The first is the vigil service, or the Trisagion, which is usually performed at the church the night before the funeral day and on anniversaries of the person’s death. In the service, the prayers entreat God to grant rest to the departed soul so that it may receive mercy. The name of the service, “Trisagion,” comes from the repetition three times of the opening phrase of the service, “Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy and Immortal, have mercy on us.” The service also includes this liturgy, asking Christ to “give rest with the Saints to the soul of Your servant where there is neither pain, grief, nor sighing but life everlasting.”
The Funeral Service is continued at the Church, where the body is brought on the day of burial. The Divine Liturgy may be celebrated. After the funeral service, members of the congregation offer their farewell to the deceased. The Trisagion Service is repeated at the graveside. Following the funeral service, the mourners share a meal to celebrate the life of the one who died. The meal is a chance for the relatives and friends to remember their loved one in an informal setting.
Funerals also fill an important role for those mourning the loss of a loved one. By providing surviving family and friends with an atmosphere of care and support, a funeral service is often the first step in the healing process where one can show their respect for their loved one while grieving and acknowledging their transition from this earth to unity with God.
- Pick up the deceased and transport the body to the funeral home (anytime day or night)
- Notify proper authorities, family and/or relatives
- Arrange and prepare death certificates
- Provide certified copies of death certificates for insurance and benefit processing
- Work with the hospital, nursing home, insurance agents, Centrelink and/or consulate ensure that necessary paperwork is filed for receipt of benefits
- Prepare and submit obituary to the newspapers of your choice
- Bathe and embalm the deceased body, if necessary
- Prepare the body for viewing including dressing and cosmetising
- Assist the family with funeral arrangements and purchase of casket, burial vault/cemetery plot
- Schedule the opening and closing of the grave with cemetery personnel, if a burial is to be performed
- Coordinate with clergy if a funeral or memorial service is to be held
- Arrange transportation to the funeral and/or cemetery for the family
- Order funeral sprays and other flower arrangements as the family wishes
- Provide aftercare, or grief assistance, to the bereaved
The funeral home will help coordinate arrangements with the cemetery.
- Contact Orthodox Funerals immediately so that they can prepare the relevant paperwork and organise collection of your loved one.
- Contact your clergy. Decide on time and place of funeral or memorial service. This can also be arranged together with Orthodox Funeral directors.
- Orthodox Funeral Directors will assist you in determining the number of copies of the death certificates you will be needing and can order them for you.
- Make a list of immediate family, close friends and employer or business colleagues. Notify each by phone.
- Gather obituary information such as time and place of services. Orthodox Funerals will normally help you submit information to the newspapers and will prepare an online obituary for you to share with friends and family via text, email, or social media.
- For more information on what to do when a death occurs, click here.
The Christian Orthodox Church does not allow for a funeral service to be conducted by its Priests in an Orthodox Church if the body of the deceased person has been cremated.
Burial has been traditional way of disposing the deceased for thousands of years. The Old Testament and New Testament discuss burials and there are many references to burials being performed and the holy obligation of providing a burial for the deceased, as seen with the burial of Jesus Christ himself in the tomb.
Orthodox Christians believe the body is a gift from God. Orthodox Christians believe the body must now and always be treated with dignity and respect, and that the body does not belong to us; but is the essence of the Holy Spirit wherein the soul resides during our earthly journey. Hence the Orthodox Church doctrine maintains that the body is equally as valuable on earth as is the soul in eternity.
Eastern Orthodox tradition tells us that when we are resurrected upon the Second Coming of Christ, we will be resurrected in our physical bodies as was Jesus. Orthodox Christians believe that as Jesus was buried after being crucified (and not cremated as many were at that time) that they too are to be buried following the example of Jesus Christ.
The Orthodox Church does not allow for a funeral service to be conducted by an Orthodox Priest in an Orthodox Church for a person being cremated. There are (have been) exceptions where the Orthodox Christian met an unexpected tragic death wherein the deceased’s remains were compromised by acts or actions beyond ones control.
In summation, the Orthodox Church does not recognise or accept cremation as a means of disposition of a departed Orthodox Christian; for the Orthodox Church’s belief is that the body and soul will be reunited at the Last Judgment.
For more information on Cremations and the Orthodox Church, click here.
When compared to other major life events like births and weddings, funerals are not expensive. Usually weddings cost at least three times as much; but due to the happy nature of the event, people rarely criticise the costs involved.
A funeral home is a 24-hour, labour-intensive business, with extensive planning and use of facilities (viewing rooms, chapels, limousines, hearses etc.), these expenses must be factored into the cost of a funeral.
Additionally, the cost of a funeral includes not only merchandise, like caskets, flowers, crosses, but the services of a funeral director in making arrangements; filing appropriate forms; dealing with doctors, priests, cemeteries, florists, newspapers and others; and seeing to all the necessary details. Funeral directors look upon their profession as a service, but it is also a means to work and survive. Like any business, funeral homes must make some profit in order to continue providing their services.
When an Orthodox Christian is nearing death, a priest should be brought in to hear the final confession and administer Holy Communion to the dying person. Orthodox Funerals directors should be called immediately to start the planning process for the funeral.
After the death, a priest should be immediately called to lead prayers over the deceased’s body for the release of the soul. You should also immediately call Orthodox Funerals to collect and care for the deceased person. For more information click here.
Once the deceased’s requirements have been met and funeral arrangements organised, the deceased is transported to the church for the funeral service. Traditionally, the procession is led by the cross, where the priest walks in front of the coffin with the censer and leads the processors in the singing of the hymn Trisagion. Even if there will not be a traditional procession, the Trisagion should be recited at the viewing, before the deceased is brought to the cemetery graveside for the funeral service.
Once at the church, the coffin is opened. Near the head of the coffin should be placed a bowl of koliva, a dish of boiled wheat with honey, with a lit candle on top, symbolizing the cyclical nature of life and the sweetness of Heaven. A crown or wreath with the Trisagion printed on it is placed on the head and a small icon of Christ, the deceased’s patron saint, or a cross is placed in the deceased’s hand or in the casket. Lit candles should be distributed to all present and should remain lit throughout the funeral service.
Mourners and worshipers should stand throughout the funeral service, during which the priest will lead the Divine Liturgy, say prayers, lead the Dismissal, and recite “Memory Eternal.” Holy Communion may also be offered. After the service, mourners are encouraged to approach the casket and “say goodbye” to the deceased, and may kiss the icon or cross in the casket. After all mourners have had a chance to “say goodbye,” the casket is closed and removed from the church to the cemetery. At this point, the Trisagion should again be sung.
For more information on the Burial service please click here.