The polar opposite of the “James Brown” style celebration and today’s trend toward personalization the Amish funerals are simple events. I was surprised to learn that they allow embalming.
Grief and Grieving – Grief is very private. Public displays of grief are rare. Which doesn’t mean they are grieving any less than those who make strong emotions outbursts.
Embalming – Most Amish communities will allow the embalming of the body by a local undertaker familiar with Amish customs, but no makeup is applied.
Caring of the Dead – The family takes care of cleaning and dressing the body in traditional white garments.
Visitations – There are three different times when friends and family can view or visit the deceased
- First viewing – A view held at the home a day before the funeral.
- Second viewing – A viewing during the funeral, when the open casket is on display at the home.
- Third viewing – A viewing at the grave site. The final viewing is held before the coffin is lowered into the ground.
Funeral Service – The funeral service is simple, with no eulogy or flowers.
- Focus – The focus is on praising God and not on commemorating the dead.
- Timing – An Amish funeral and burial is generally held three days after death.
- Location – The Old Order Amish do not have churches, so funerals are held in two locations. The smaller service in the home of the deceased. The body is taken to a separate place, usually a barn for the larger service.
- Language – The funerals are conducted entirely in Pennsylvania Dutch a form of German.
- Speakers – The Amish feel that the focus of the funeral is on God, not on remembering the dead. Their custom is not to eulogize (speeches specifically given in praise of the deceased).
- Music – Ministers will read hymns, but it won’t be sung. There is no singing at the Amish funeral.
- Flowers – Flowers are usually not present. Sometimes kerosene lanterns are used in place of a flower displays.
Casket/Coffin– Caskets are plain pine boxes, wooden coffins made within the local community. They use simple pine boxes made locally instead of ornate coffins. The deceased is generally buried in the local Amish cemetery.
Graves and Grave Stones – Graves are usually dug by hand. People make take turns sitting with the body until the grave can be dug. Gravestones are simple, following the Amish belief that no individual is better than another. Children are buried in unmarked graves or have small headstones that lie flat on the ground. Some Amish communities do not engrave their gravestones. Instead community elders maintain a map of the cemetery to identify the occupants of each burial plot.
Mourning – Mourners still wear black. The immediate family enters a year of mourning.
No “Memorial Day” – Families do not observe a formal memorial day, nor do they go back to visit the grave. In Amish faith after death, the spirit has left the person’s physical body.
Something to do before you die:Â Ride an ostrich