Gransnet forums


Local funeral customs.

(44 Posts)
Daddima Sat 21-Jan-17 16:33:07

I was just reading about these, and there are lots of variations, even in comparatively small areas.
Here in a wee West of Scotland village, we usually keep the deceased in the house, walk behind the hearse as we take them to the church. Next day we have the funeral service, then more walking behind the hearse to the cemetery, where eight family/friends take a coffin cord each and lower the coffin ( obviously only if it's a burial!)
I remember when my grandfather died over 40 years ago, one of his friends said that as he'd been a miner the coffin should have been brought out via the window!
There is then the soup, sandwiches, and swally in a local hostelry, (though some may still opt for the steak pie)

What happens where you are?

grannyactivist Sat 21-Jan-17 16:51:31

As a child in Manchester it was usual to draw the curtains when a neighbour died and open them only after the hearse had gone past on its way to the funeral. People were 'laid out' in the front room or parlour and family, friends and neighbours would go and pay their condolences.

Daddima Sat 21-Jan-17 17:03:49

Forgot to say that, in a Catholic family, when the deceased was in the house we'd have " prayers" at 10 p.m. every night before the funeral.

How well I remember the "prayers" for my friend's late aunt. The " grieving widower " had been fortifying himself with a bottle of single malt. During the prayers he loudly demanded a sing song!
I think of Auntie Ellen every time I hear April Showers!!

Christinefrance Sat 21-Jan-17 17:14:46

I remember those things too grannyactivist, also all the men on the street would remove their hats as the hearse went past. Those traditions and customs were quite respectful and comforting I think.

grannypiper Sat 21-Jan-17 17:23:52

I too live in S.W Scotland and its only in the last 30 years or so women started attending any funeral, in fact i still know young women who wont go to the burial or cremation but like Daddima we all enjoy a wee swally after the steak pie

Floradora9 Sat 21-Jan-17 18:03:55

On the east coast of Scotland here . An uncle died recently and at his funeral his son did a moving oration. His daughter ( brought up in Ireland ) was ready to clap at the end of it but luckily was stopped in time . Not something you would do here . I must admit to hating the lineup of the bereaved to shake hands with everyone . I would much rather say my piece beforehand or later instead of the family having the ordeal of everybody to speak to . Will not be that problem at my funeral only really close relations and a private burial followed by a good meal .

Annierose Sat 21-Jan-17 18:21:29

Midlands: ham, a large pork pie, a big cheese and a huge fruit cake. A critical evaluation of the food by a number of 'old gals' only ever seen at funerals (where on earth did they go the rest of the time?)

mumofmadboys Sat 21-Jan-17 18:23:33

In Wales after a chapel service only the men went to the cream. So my DH went to my grandmothers crem service and I didn't!!

Cherrytree59 Sat 21-Jan-17 18:27:46

I no longer live in Scotland, but we still had a piper and walked behind my father's coffin.
The cords were held and lowered by family members.

On my fathers catholic side they would have had the deceased in the house laid out.
But this is no longer done in the family
The coffin would also have been carried on male family member's shoulders.
My father spoke of keeping vigil over his grandmother.
He found it very frightening as he was only a young lad at the time.

My cousins who live in the States had the vigil and a wake the night before my uncle's funeral and then a buffet in my uncles home afterwards

I still close curtains.

My uncle died unexpectedly in 2002
The people of the small town where he lived in East Kilbride lined the street and I was very moved to see that they bowed their heads as hearse drove by.

Funerals no matter the weather makes me feel chilled so a wee dram is very welcome.

Greyduster Sat 21-Jan-17 18:57:15

As GA says, it was also the tradition for the deceased to be kept in the front room and curtains closed. I remember my mother helping to lay out our neighbour's husband before the undertaker came. Someone in the street would usually organise a collection for a floral tribute, as, in close communities, everyone knew everyone else and it was a mark of respect. Boiled ham baps and seed cake, with tea, and maybe a drop of the hard stuff for the men, seemed to be the order of the day for funerals then.

ninathenana Sat 21-Jan-17 19:04:54

Mum would close the curtains if a neighbour had died.
We don't have the deceased laid out at home. If you want to see the body you visit the undertakers chapel of rest. Mourners wait outside the chapel/church chief mourners will follow the coffin in (which is often carried by relatives) then everyone else.
H still stands still and removes his hat if a cortege passes. In London when H was small it was the custom to have a floral arrangement in the shape of a chair. I'm not really sure why.

grumppa Sat 21-Jan-17 19:07:44

I was at my father's when he died in South Wales and returned from London for the cremation a week or so later. Unaware of the local custom, I was taken aback to be told "Come and see your Da, he looks lovely." And there he was in the open coffin in the front room. 'Lovely' is honestly not the word I would have used.

cornergran Sat 21-Jan-17 19:26:55

Not knowing the tradition of men only at the crematorium it didn't occur to me not to go to both Church and crem when my mother in law died. I think some were shocked, but others seemed fine with it. Mr C had lived away from Wales for a while and could see no reason for me to stay away from the crem - so I didn't. The area is much more relaxed about it now, mostly women attend the crem but some still choose not to.

annifrance Sun 22-Jan-17 08:44:18

I never overtake a hearse.

I remember standing by the railway lines in Reading as the train bearing Churchill' s coffin passed slowly on its way from London to Woodstock. People lined the route all the way and my father and all the men removed their hats as the train passed.

I usually go to funerals as a mark of support for the family. I have only ever once heard of funerals being men only . in the south-east it is usually followed by a jolly good party. Also a chance to catch up with a lot of people.

Here in this remote corner of France it is expected that you turn out for the obseques of anyone in your village. Never been to so many funerals since we moved here! We rock up in smartish dark clothes, tie, a La English way, and the French, whatever the age, usually in jeans, work clothes and never a tie!

Neversaydie Sun 22-Jan-17 08:47:14

Yes in our small village in Wales we would draw the curtains if we knew a hearse would pass
Still the custom for the ladies of the chapel to offer to cater the wake in the vestry .They visit it you after the death and you agree likely numbers, a budget etc.They do everything .It's lovely .(no booze though.Methodists. I remember having a swig from friends husband's hip flask after dad's burial It was February and freezing )
It's also usual to take the deceased from the undertaker to the chapel the night before for a private informal family service.When dad died my children were very young and I didnt want them at the funeral (for my sake not theirs)but we took them to that.My mum said itvwas vety helpful having them one either side of her and it 'gets over'that awful moment when you first see the coffin .
My brother died earlier this year-one potential bearer was much shorter than the (6ft plus)others but the undertaker said it's increasingly common for them not to carry the coffin but to wheel it in ...

Humbertbear Sun 22-Jan-17 09:09:57

Orthodox Jewish women do not attend funerals and I have been to several where women are requested not to approach the graveside. At one we were asked not to leave the prayer hall. I must say I felt like storming the barricades.
The deceased is usually buried within 24 hours of death and the family sit shiva (mourning) for 7 days. They are visited by friends and family who bring food and there are prayers every evening.

Nelliemoser Sun 22-Jan-17 10:05:37

As Methodists there was very little fancy ceremony in the service.
I was going to he funeral of one of my aunts in Lincoln and as our cortege passed I saw two people crossing themelves. That took me aback.

We had sat with my Mil just after she died, talking about our memories of her and holding her hand. She went down hill very quickly and were just too late, having driven down south to see her. It was not at all an unpleasant experience. I had never done that before and was worried about how I would feel.
I then went to see my mum and dad just before their funerals. I found it a good experience. They just looked asleep nothing to be frightened about at all.

Bellasnana Sun 22-Jan-17 10:10:23

Here in Malta the funeral usually takes place 24-48hrs after the death. There is no cremation so it is always a church service followed by burial. Then everyone just goes home. They do not hold a wake and were horrified when I had one after DH's funeral.

It is a very grisly business here if you do not own a family grave. In that case, you are put in a government owned grave but, after two years have elapsed, the grave is 'cleaned' with the contents being thrown into an ossuary to make room for the next inmate. Quite macabre and I'm hoping cremation will have been introduced before I pop my clogs, otherwise it will be an expensive flight to the nearest crematorium.

NameChange2016 Sun 22-Jan-17 10:17:12

The Jewish tradition is to cover the mirrors until a week after the funeral. Some people say it's because they trap the soul of the deceased but I think it's more about not being vain when you are mourning a loved one. You also make a tear or cut your clothing to show you are in mourning (in the bible it talks about 'renting' your clothes). You are also supposed to sit on low chairs for the week afterwards. Also not have a hair cut or shave for a month. There are other ones but these are the main ones.

Elrel Sun 22-Jan-17 10:22:27

Birmingham- Always curtains drawn for neighbours' funerals, people stopped in the street as a hearse passed (I still do) and men doffed hats. I think this was normal showing of respect at least throughout the 1950s and has gradually declined since.

TriciaF Sun 22-Jan-17 11:02:57

Daddima - your customs are more or less the same as those in our part of France. Like Annifrance I've never been to so many funerals as we have had here.

I've been to several Jewish funerals too - where we lived the Police close the surrounding streets to traffic because there are so many people attending as the procession goes from the home to the synagogue.
But as others have said, only the men go to the cemetery which is out of town.

vampirequeen Sun 22-Jan-17 11:07:54

I still close my curtains. I also cross myself and say the prayer:

Eternal rest, grant unto them, O LORD,
And let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace.

If I know if it's a male or female in the coffin then I say him/her rather than them.

I don't know if it's a left over RC reflex reaction but it's a sign of respect and if there is a god it can't do the deceased any harm and if there isn't then it doesn't matter.

vampirequeen Sun 22-Jan-17 11:09:10

I also stand still as the cortege drives by as a sign of respect. I wish people still did that but most don't seem to these days.

vampirequeen Sun 22-Jan-17 11:11:46

At the wake of the last funeral I attended we had a singsong. It was at the request of the deceased. He'd even chosen the songs he wanted us to sing. They included 'When the red, red, robin goes bobbin...' (Hull Kingston Rovers team song) and The Red Flag.

Sounds odd but was a lovely way of remembering him and made us all smile.

greatgranny Sun 22-Jan-17 11:19:31

This was the custom in our part of Lancashire too. In the home of the deceased, the curtains would be closed from the time of death until after the funeral. Black bands were worn on outdoor clothing as a sign of mourning.