Funeral processions are basically a form of traditional tribute to an individual or group of individuals. Historically, in Western society, these are usually performed either in a church or some public building, then a formal memorial service wherein the deceased’s body is also present. There are various types of funeral processions, from traditional to contemporary funeral processions. These are used in almost all parts of the world and have been practised for hundreds of years.
A funeral procession typically includes three parts: the funeral procession itself, the funeral service and the burial place or monument. The ceremony vehicle is normally a limousine, but can also be a rented bus or a stretch vehicle. The most traditional type of funeral procession is comprised of a white pick up truck with flashing lights, escorted by law enforcement officers.
The funeral service is an additional part of the funeral procession. It is a time for sharing cherished memories and expressions of grief and gratitude to those left behind. The vehicle’s music is often a beautiful expression of unity during this time. The funeral service is usually held within the funeral procession, at the burial location or monument.
The actual burial place or monument where the deceased’s body lies after the cremation process is completed is called a mortuary. People choose to go to the mortuary to pay their last respects. The deceased’s remains will lie in state at the mortuary until time of the funeral services. Family and friends gather to say their final goodbyes. This can take place at a family member’s home, a church funeral or a reception site.
There are several ways in which attendees can travel following the funeral procession. The attendees can travel to the actual cemetery where the funeral service is held, or they may travel to the grave site. Burial services take place at the grave site or at a chapel. Some people prefer the latter. Burial ceremonies can take several hours to an entire day depending on the length of the grave site and the size of the deceased’s casket.
The funeral processions typically travel in single file or in two. If the deceased was interred next to his or her parents then the procession would begin from their home and proceed to the cemetery. If the deceased was buried in a separate grave then the funeral procession would alternate following the same path as the hearse carrying the deceased’s casket.
Funeral Procession Transportation
There are several options available for transportation of the casket following the funeral procession. The most popular method is using a hearse. The hearse is typically accompanied by a contingent of mourners, including both the bride and groom. Depending on the local laws, the hearse escort may also include the bride’s sisters or other female members of the family. A small group of children may accompany the hearse; these escorts are typically made up of a deputy from the funeral procession and a designated driver who will be carrying the child back to the church or other location.
There are other options available for transporting the remains following a funeral procession such as using an airplane or train. If the deceased has been cremated the escorts can place the cremation container next to the cremation memorial container in the urn. Cremation urns are usually rented at the time of the funeral from a funeral parlor. The cremation container is placed directly over the cremation ashes.
The body of the deceased can also be transported in a closed casket. This option should only be considered if the family members can arrange for the transportation of their loved one’s remains without additional expense. An unclosed casket can present security concerns; therefore, the body should be transported in a closed vehicle or securely covered casket while the funeral procession is traveling to the cemetery.
There are many different types of funeral processions. The traditional route for most American deaths was the direct path of the funeral procession. At this point the procession would halt to allow mourners to catch up with the procession. This often caused a sense of discomfort for the attendees because of the lack of information regarding the exact route to be traveled. Another problem was finding alternative routes for the families in the area. These problems diminished the spirit of the funeral processions and overshadowed the actual ceremony.
As churches have begun to embrace the culture of death, they have focused their resources on funeral services that are meaningful and respectful of the diverse cultures represented by the many different faith traditions. The United Church of Christ and the Evangelical Lutheran Churches do just that. While many other denominations offer traditional funeral services, these two denominations celebrate life through the celebration of life-affirming services and teachings.