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Old 05-18-2005, 08:53 AM   #1
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Default Southern(?) Funeral Customs Question

I just read the obituary for Granny's SIL (http://forums.splitcoaststampers.com...265#post617265)

When reading, I noticed there is a viewing today and the funeral tomorrow. I am in Wisconsin, and this is something we do here too (sometimes both are on the same day, but sometimes not). What I was really surprised by though was the length of the viewing. It's nine hours long! In all my years I have never been to/heard of a viewing lasting more than a few hours (generally three at most). Is this a Southern custom? Or is this common in other areas as well? It's entirely possible that it's common even in Wisconsin, and I am just not aware of it!

I'm just curious...
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Old 05-18-2005, 08:57 AM   #2
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That does seem like an extremely long time. That would be quite difficult on family, I would think.
In my experience (limited as it is), there is usually an afternoon viewing of 2-3 hours and then an evening viewing of the same length. This gives the family a break, time to catch a meal etc. It also accomodates both working and non-working people.

I'm interested to hear more about this.
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Old 05-18-2005, 09:02 AM   #3
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The viewing for my dh's grandfather (in Louisville, KY, so fairly southern) was from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

It was SO SO SO long... they served lunch in the middle.... I had a 3 month old with me at the time and I just sat in a side room and nursed and played with her.... it was very odd to me...
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Old 05-18-2005, 09:05 AM   #4
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When my grandfather passed away, his viewing was for 2 days. (He had so many friends and he died pretty young. 64) But other than that, most of the funerals that I have been to, they have had a viewing for 1 entire day. Or 2 days 5pm-9pm. I guess it's what the family wants.
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Old 05-18-2005, 09:07 AM   #5
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I'm from NY originally and my experience has always been afternoons usually 11AM until 3PM then evening around 6PM until 9PM. I varies slightly but those are around the usual times.
The day of the funeral mass you can go early 7AM or so ,( usually just very close family) then off to church then cemetery. Thats how it was for my Nana & my Mom.

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Old 05-18-2005, 09:08 AM   #6
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It seems like things here are quicky viewing/prayer service, then the church service and burial. No structured meal after. Always felt weird to me!

Where I come from (small town!), the whole funeral is an event! Viewing all day one day, then the prayer service the next evening after another day of viewing, then viewing at the funeral home, then move to the church for the service, then to the cemetary for the burial. THEN back to the church fellowship hall for food. It's awesome to hear the stories, and reconnect with friends and family after.
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Old 05-18-2005, 09:17 AM   #7
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Wow! I didn't even notice that when I posted the thread! That has to be SO exhausting! I saw that tomorrow they are starting at 9 am till the time of the service (at the church at 4) - WOW again!

We usually do a 3-5 (or 2-4) and 7-9 viewing the day before the funeral. And even that's tough! The last one I went to was for a good friend's son (21 years old killed in a car accident on Easter morning) - there were tons of kids there, and the funeral home finally had to cut everyone off or the family never would have had any rest.

Keep those prayers up for Lisa and her babies!
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Old 05-18-2005, 09:57 AM   #8
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In PA (at least where I grew up), my dh nan passed away two weeks ago and they did a small family viewing on Wednesday from 4-? (lasted till about 6) and then on Thursday the viewing was at 10AM, funeral at 11AM at the funeral home and we went to the cemetary from there. Then we had a meal planned for about 12:30 at a country club for whomever wanted to come. It was nice and long enough for everyone to "remember".
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Old 05-18-2005, 10:25 AM   #9
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Thanks for all of your replies. I am always intrigued by how different common customs can be depending on where you live, what your religion is, etc.

Any family member that has passed in our family generally has a viewing from 9 - 11, then a service from 11 - 11:30, then lunch at the church, and then the interment (sp?) at the cemetary afterwards. We have always had everything in one day. I can remember being quite young and sitting in on the plans for my great-grandfathers funeral. They asked if the family wanted to spread the funeral and visitation over two days or not. I can remember my Grandma saying something to the effect of "I don't think I'm strong enough for two days" (this was her father) . From then on, we've always planned everything on the same day when someone passes.

It must be a very emotional day for Granny and Lisa. We have to keep lifting them up and asking God to give them strength through this!!
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Old 05-18-2005, 10:31 AM   #10
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i've heard of some customs like what was mentioned. where i'm from, there is a viewing about 2-3 hours either once or twice(depends on family) and tehn the followind day the funeral, burial and fellowship.

dh is from south GA, and he felt weird with the way we do funerals here. he said where he is from it's an all day affair. view all morning, possibly afternoon and then the service and burial.
it's interesting to hear about all the different ways.
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Old 05-18-2005, 10:36 AM   #11
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When my dad passed away 2 years ago, we had viewing the day before the funeral, started at 1 PM and went until 9 PM (that was on a Sunday) but family members didn't have to sit through everything, we could come and go as we wanted. Even my mom didn't stay there that whole time, people could go in, sign the guest book and then leave. I was only there for about an hour because even though my dad was 79 years old, it was too hard for me to see his body. Then on Monday, we had a short (about 10 minutes) service for family and close relatives at the funeral home, then drove to the cemetary, then had the big church service, and food afterwards. Then our church provided supper for immediate family.

It is becoming more and more common around here to have burial before the service, I personally prefer it that way because when I go to a funeral for someone I didn't know very well, the last thing I want to do is drive to the cemetary. The only disadvantage is that when the weather isn't very good, (which was the case with my aunt's funeral this past winter, very windy day) you have to go to a church service rather mussed up.

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Old 05-18-2005, 10:55 AM   #12
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it is interesting how there are such differences, regional, generational, religious. we laid my parents out for two days with two viewing sessions each day, usually 2-4 and 7-9. in between everyone was back at the house. then everyone was back there the morning of the funeral, left from there for the church, then the cemetery, then back to the house. we're irish though, so the waking is a big part of the ritual.

my young niece's husband passed away a year or so ago here in the DC area. we laid him out one evening, it was about all she could handle. then for the funeral, everyone was to meet at the cemetery. with traffic around here, it was just not logical to all follow the hearse to the cemetery. so towards the end of the night we asked the funeral director about the funeral home being cleared out at the end so just the family, one at a time, could say their good-byes. he sort of smiled and said, well no, that isn't what we usually do around here, but we do whatever to accomodate the family, are you folks from pittsburgh? we just laughed because indeed we are. there are a huge amount of us western PA folks in the DC area and i guess the funeral home was used to dealing with them. they told us that they sometimes get that request and that nearly always they have been people from western PA.

my jewish friends were always astounded at all the time spent in the funeral home. they told me they found it creepy. some of my other friends thought the idea of the funeral in the church was creepy, because it wasn't what they did in their religion.

in the town my mother is from the funeral processions get a 2 motorcycle police escort. i always love that. i still get teary-eyed seeing in my mind, driving up to the cemetery after the hearse for my aunt's funeral. the cops had escorted us to the entrance, then both got off their motorcycles and stood saluting as the procession drove by.

my mother always said she missed the way, back when men wore hats, that all men would stop as a funeral procession drove down the road and stand still with their hats over their hearts. i noticed when my aunt died in 1991, that construction workers did it with their hard-hats as we drove past them. it pleased my mother.
i'm quite fascinated by the whole funereal process, death and dying. in another life, i may have been a thanatologist.

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Old 05-18-2005, 11:00 AM   #13
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at a young age, we were taught that funerals should be a time of celebration. even as hard as it is, to celebrate teh time they shared with us, etc.
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Old 05-18-2005, 11:03 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mamaof3insd
at a young age, we were taught that funerals should be a time of celebration. even as hard as it is, to celebrate teh time they shared with us, etc.
that was what the nuns taught us - celebrate the life, don't mourn the death. we were so raucous when my mother died that her friend ran out of my sister's house in tears. she still says to me today - it isn't that i don't know you kids loved your mother, but all that laughter!!! i just tease her and say, dee, you're italian, that's the difference. we were all torn up, but we laughed and told mum stories all day. we celebrated her life! my family was asked to keep it down at the funeral home before, told they were disturbing the nice italian family across the hall.

all ethnic generalizations are said with nothing but love, please, no offense intended.
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Old 05-18-2005, 11:11 AM   #15
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my granny passed away this past oct. and she was something spunky i tell ya'.

she wouldn't have wanted us crying. we did, but we shared some bobka (vodka) and a smoke. put a pack of smokes in her casket when teh funeral director wasn't looking. some reading this might think we're off the wall. but my granny would have a shot of whiskey with you and a cigarette and chew you out the next minute for farting! she wasn't one of those that just cause she got older, she sat in her rockin' chair...KWIM?
i got a warm fuzzy thinkin about her!
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Old 05-18-2005, 11:13 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chelseacat
my mother always said she missed the way, back when men wore hats, that all men would stop as a funeral procession drove down the road and stand still with their hats over their hearts. i noticed when my aunt died in 1991, that construction workers did it with their hard-hats as we drove past them. it pleased my mother.
i'm quite fascinated by the whole funereal process, death and dying. in another life, i may have been a thanatologist.
Also, radios off as a gesture of respect for the deceased, no matter who it was. There were (and still are) announcements at every checkstand of every business, so you knew if there was a body inside the funeral home. People come out of the woodwork to pay their respects in small towns, and that is so touching to me, especially listening to the stories they have.

I remember the funeral cortege after my granddad's funeral vividly. We drove from the church to the cemetary, Police escort, everyone with lights on in the middle of the day. Very grand, it seemed. We drove through downtown and past my elementary school, and I remember seeing my classmates standing there so very quietly it seemed surreal.

When my favorite uncle died last year, everything went the same as most every other funeral I'd been to. Until we got to the cemetary. I'd never been to a military burial, and that was so moving and heart wrenching. Seeing the grandkids and my cousins and my aunt, and the tremendous respect that was given to every detail still brings tears to my eyes. It was July, but I got the chills just being there. Hearing TAPS, and the heavy silence of the large group was an experience. I've only seen my dad cry a few times, and it was when Uncle Richard died that it was the hardest.

Another thing that I thought about. . . at my great grandfather's funeral, and again at my great grandma's funeral, the funeral director came out with a pretty container filled with soil, so that as everyone paid their last respects, they could put a handful of dirt on the coffin. As the pallbearers filed by, they left their boutinneers (sp i am sure) on the outside of the coffin.
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Old 05-18-2005, 11:15 AM   #17
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oh you aren't off the wall at all! i was one of mum's pallbearers and i swear there was a good 20 extra lbs of 'stuff' in her coffin. lottery tickets (my nephew says he knows she took the winner with her), bingo chips, perfume samples that she loved, cigarettes (she hid that from us but we all knew, so that was funny), racing forms (do you see a gambling trend), bubble wrap (so God would hear her coming as she popped it), kahluha, a deck of cards. we lined the coffin with hershey kisses. when the funeral director asked if they stayed or went my sister-in-law looked at him like he was crazy. told him - it's a long trip to make without chocolate! we had bowls of kisses all over the funeral home. he didn't think we were crazy, he really enjoyed the insanity and said at one point - she must have been quite a lady, your mother. i think my mother and your granny would have gotten along well - perhaps they have met up already!

we had a bagpipe for my mother. my sister's friend, in full regalia, was standing across from her plot when we drove up and started to play. at the end of the service, the wonderful funeral director said to me - pipe her down? now this is a tradition i have promised my sister i would see was done for her, but our mother always said she thought it terribly morbid. but i looked him in the eye and said YES. so as the piper played amazing grace, the lowered my mother down. seemed right, that her kids see her right to the final end. but i'll have to answer to her for it the next time i see her!

my brother is a viet nam vet and he has made everyone swear there will be no flag, no taps. i won't promise. told him if his kids want it, i will find the trumpet player. funerals are for the living. he can deal with me along with my mother. i still can't figure out why my father, a WWII canadian air force vet, didn't have a canadian flag, at the very least. but he was 60 and we were young and in shock. at least that's the story i'm going with.

told you the whole process fascinates me - love hearing all the stories!

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Old 05-18-2005, 11:17 AM   #18
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people around here pull over(if at all possible) and turn on their lights as a sign of respect for funeral processions.when my grandma died about 12 years ago, we had state and local police escort (gpa. was a dci detective in the state). so moving.
dh and i are legion members but haven't done any funerals yet. don't know if i could without crying.
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Old 05-18-2005, 11:19 AM   #19
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we joke that granny's playing poker and pinochle up there! she loved polka and bluegrass music.
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Old 05-18-2005, 11:19 AM   #20
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In my family funerals are a 2 day affair. One full day for the viewing and another full day for the prayer service, funeral procession (and you better pull off to the side of the road until the entire procession has passed), burial, dinner, wake, supper, more wake. Of course it starts long before the wake because the whole "preparing for the wake" is a 2-3 day affair complete with the family fights over what the deceased would have wanted.
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Old 05-18-2005, 11:22 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mamaof3insd
we joke that granny's playing poker and pinochle up there! she loved polka and bluegrass music.
oh yes, she and my mother have met, i'm sure. at either a poker table, or during a polka.
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Old 05-18-2005, 07:05 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbalcer
When my favorite uncle died last year, everything went the same as most every other funeral I'd been to. Until we got to the cemetary. I'd never been to a military burial, and that was so moving and heart wrenching. Seeing the grandkids and my cousins and my aunt, and the tremendous respect that was given to every detail still brings tears to my eyes. It was July, but I got the chills just being there. Hearing TAPS, and the heavy silence of the large group was an experience.
Jenn -
I experienced the same thing at my grandfathers funeral this past summer. I really think a military funeral is the most heart wrenching for me. When the color guard folded the flag and presented it to my grandma saying "On behalf of the President of the United States of America we present this flag...." Ok. I'm crying just typing that!! It's so emotional for me. Grandpa had a 21 gun salute, and I have all of the shells. I took one of them, and hand-painted his name and an american flag on it, and it hangs from the rear view mirror of my car. I also had my license plates changed to a personalized plate - the nick name he had for me. He was taken from us much to early, but now serves as my "wing man".

I just wanted to reply to your post, and also bump this back to the top. I've read everyone's posts, and I'm just loving the memories here. Let's hear a few more!
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Old 05-19-2005, 06:47 AM   #23
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As a trumpet player in high school and college, I used to get hired by some of the local funeral homes to play Taps for the military funerals. I only did a few times because I would get emotional while playing it, and I was afraid I would mess up something that was so important to the family.
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