Why are funerals important in religion?

Last Updated: 11th June 2022

Regardless of religion, funerals are considered important to mark the significant life event of death.  People may ask ‘Why are funerals important in religion?’ and there are differing opinion on this topic.

Celebrating the life of a person who has recently passed away allows people to come together to mark the passing of their friend or family member.  It allows them to comfort one another and grieve together at an event specifically for that person.

Whether a deceased person or their next of kin or family has chosen a cremation or a burial, when considering why are funerals important in religion it might be that the deceased person’s religious beliefs govern what type of funeral they have.  Where cremation is frowned upon, or even prohibited, in some religions, other faiths might believe that cremation is a more sustainable way of the disposal of a deceased person.

Within the Christian faith, why are funerals important in religion is highlighted in the Bible with a funeral being promoted as a celebration because in 2 Corinthians 5:8 the Bible states that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”

This belief allows the deceased person to be brought to Heaven to be with the Lord and God if they are judged to be righteous and this might bring comfort to the deceased person’s family and next of kin that they do not remain in a casket but continue their journey to Heaven and a better place.

The Christian faith is not alone in their thinking why are funerals important in religion.  There are specific and meaningful reasons that most religions believe that having a funeral for their deceased loved one is important.

Whilst many religions see a funeral as an opportunity of being able to help their deceased loved one a passage to the next life, there may be differing rituals performed at a funeral depending on the particular religion that the deceased person followed, however, it is the passage to the afterlife that remains an important factor to many when considering why are funerals important in religion.

There may be differing beliefs, according to religion, as to how and when a funeral for the deceased person should take place, and there may be different rituals performed at their funeral, which could or might not be related to the deceased person’s religion, however, the importance of the funeral is mainly down to showing and paying respects to the departed which is why are funerals important in religion.

It is important within the Muslim funeral tradition that protocols are closely followed.  At the mosque, funeral prayers are recited but never inside, as they are spoken in a specific prayer room and are performed by all members of the community.  Men lead the form of at least three lines that face Mecca, with the closest male relation to the deceased person at the very front, leading the other men, then children and then women.   The Muslim faith believe why are funerals important in religion and follow their traditional beliefs closely.

A Buddhist funeral service is different as Buddhists show why are funerals important in religion by coming together to mourn the deceased person in dignified, simple and solemn affair.

The funeral service in the Buddhist faith often takes place before the burial or cremation with a memorial service taking place after a cremation.  Whichever form a Buddhist funeral takes, it is important to Buddhists that a display of wealth is not shown.

If a Buddhist memorial service takes place, the casket of the cremated remains of the deceased person is placed at the front of the room and flowers or wreaths that family or friends wish to leave can be laid beside them, at the altar, as they approach them.  They specifically bow their heads and press their hands to together in a prayer pose before pausing to reflect their deceased loved one and then take their seats.

Another thought about why are funerals important in religion is taken by the Jewish faith.  Like a Muslim funeral, a Jewish funeral should take place within a day of the death of the deceased person, in which most of the Jewish faith believe the deceased should always be buried and never cremated.

The faith of the Quakers consider why are funerals important in religion and use these events as celebratory to thank God for the life of the deceased person and help those in grief and mourning to thank God for His love. 

The ‘Meeting for Worship’ is followed during a Quaker funeral in which the event is explained at the beginning of the meeting due to the fact that most mourners may not know how Quakers conduct their funeral services. 

Everyone will have a period of time to meditate silently and should anyone feel moved to speak, they are welcome to do so. 

Songs, prayers, readings and memories are shared, with an expression of feeling felt at a Quaker funeral so the focus is on sharing the love of the recently deceased person.   The Quaker funeral service is carefully considered which can provide an explanation to why are funerals important in religion.

There are a number of ways in which to consider why are funerals important in religion as the universal feeling or belief of any religion is that they signify a life event to celebrate, mourn and respect the recently deceased person.

The next article will be published next week, and the title will be What happens at traditional funerals?

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