Funerals seem like the worst topic to discuss. Even though they are incredibly difficult to deal with, ceremonies have a beauty to them. This is actually odd for me to since I have been to more funerals than I would like to admit. Growing up in a Mormon family, there is a specific way it is done.
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, funerals are sacred. This is a time when families, friends and congregations (called wards) gather to honor the life and contributions of a loved one who has died. Funeral functions are under the direction of the priesthood—which is the power the God gives to man to act in all things for the salvation of His children. Most funerals are held either at a funeral home chapel or the chapel of a church building.
During the funeral, this is our time for reverence,to show empathy and compassion to one another as we sing along to beautiful songs, to listen to speakers who are willing to share stories, and to mourn together as one. This is the time for us to remember how precious our life on earth really is and to recognize the importance of not taking things for granted. Pallbearers will take the casket to the hearse which family and close friends are invited to follow to the dedication of the grave. Once everyone is gathered, the grave is then dedicated under the direction of the Priesthood.
What does it mean to dedicate a grave? First the priesthood representative addresses Heavenly Father and states that he dedicates the grave by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood. He dedicates and consecrates the burial plot as a resting place for the body of the deceased. They will also pray that the place will be hallowed and protected until the Resurrection. During that time they also ask the Lord to comfort the family and will express other thoughts and guidance needed as directed through the Spirit. After they will close in the name of Jesus Christ.
Those who have made covenants are buried in their symbolic temple clothes.
Burial has been the norm for funerals in the Church, but now that it is a world-wide Church encompassing many cultural traditions, the Church is more accepting of cremation and other possibilities. This helps, since the cost of traditional funerals have skyrocketed. Our belief in the Resurrection and God’s infinite power gives us certitude that no matter what happens to the body, it will be raised in perfection.
So what is Resurrection? Check out this video for more information.
After the services are over, family and close friends will then return to the church building for a light meal provided by the Relief Society, which is the women’s organization of The Church of Jesus Christ.
How the Relief Society comforts
The Relief Society is a women’s organization and official auxiliary and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are organized to help strengthen homes and families by following the covenant path. One of the many acts of service they do is to provide a light meal, and this is something families have a lot of gratitude for. As difficult as it is having to plan a funeral service for your loved one, the Relief Society picking up the task for the meal is a great example, showing the true meaning of their name. This is one of many acts of service they provide to assist families and friends in need.
Part of the Utah culture for food usually includes Funeral Potatoes, Ham, and Jell-O. I do know that when I am sitting at my table with mascara running down my face, I am grateful to have something comforting while I am reminiscing with others about our loved one.
How can I feel peace in a time like this?
Why does it seem like we are handling this so easy? Why are there people smiling during an event that isn’t viewed as joyous? How can you cope and find warmth during a time like this?
Celebrate the deceased
- What did they love to do? Celebrate by continuing their legacy. They left a mark on you, now continue that by leaving a mark on the world.
Make sure to have YOU time
- Yes, it is important to ensure that you make time for yourself. Try things like going for a walk, watch a movie, listen to music, paint, or try a new hobby. It is also important to take care of yourself because you are just as important.
Talk with someone
- It is hard losing someone you love. Sometimes it does creep up on you and can become overwhelming. Find someone you can confide in to express what you are feeling. Remember that it’s OK to be sad or angry. Your feelings are completely valid.
- This may seem like a strange thing to suggest, but it’s amazing how something like dancing to your favorite song, reading hilarious memes, or singing terribly with your best friend can boost your mood.
Plan of Salvation
Even by using the suggestions above, this doesn’t mean that the situation means any less or that we have moved on from our deceased love one. It’s because Mormons believe in the Plan of Salvation, also known as the plan of happiness, plan of mercy and a plan of redemption. This makes it possible for us to be perfected through the Atonement of Christ, have joy, and live forever in the presence of God and our loved ones.
This does not mean that losing a loved one is pain free. This just allows us to feel comfort and a gentle reminder to know that we are meant to have joy. In this life and the next one. Even though it may be difficult to accept the thought of an afterlife existing, please know there are many people in your community willing to be your support as a shoulder to lean on your time of need. Regardless of what your belief systems are.
You are loved. You are worth it.
Click below for a video about the Plan of Salvation: