How Long Should a Funeral Last?
Published September 11, 2020
If you’ve never attended a funeral, you might be wondering how long one lasts. Generally, funerals last about an hour or two, but some may last a few days for some cultures or religions. The duration of a funeral service will vary depending on the program of activities planned. A typical sequence of events during a funeral is the processional, followed by prayer and scripture reading, reading of the obituary, eulogies, and the recessional.
But why is knowing the duration of a funeral important? The reason isn’t all that deep. It’s always good to know how long any event will last so that guests can adjust their schedules accordingly. Additionally, guests can arrange their transport to and from the venue ahead of time.
Here are some relevant factors that contribute to the length of a funeral service:
Religion and Culture
Religious practices are the biggest reasons for many services lasting longer than others. Different religions may have various rites that are necessary for the deceased to rest in peace. If you know the deceased personally, you probably know what religion they practiced, allowing you to estimate their funeral duration.
Listed below are a few commonly practiced religions and their corresponding durations and other things you should expect.
Catholic funerals: Catholic funerals usually celebrate the holy eucharist or mass. These can last up to over an hour, so the funeral service itself will last even longer than that. It isn’t uncommon for the family to host a reception afterward.
Christian funerals: Christian funerals may include a service that lasts somewhere between 30 minutes long to an hour. A reception may also follow this affair.
Hindu funerals: Hindu funerals can be quite a contrast from Christian and Catholic ones. First, Hindu funerals usually take place within 24 hours of the death of a loved one. And instead of the somber and gloomy atmosphere, you might experience at a Catholic funeral, Hindu funerals are quite lively. They’ll include several traditional practices and rituals, and these can last a few hours.
Muslim funerals: Muslim funerals almost immediately follow the death of a loved one. Traditionally, Muslim funerals can last between one to three hours, followed by a visitation.
Jewish funerals: Jewish funerals traditionally take place one day after the death of a loved one. Theirs is a closed-casket one with a rabbi delivering a brief, reflective, and solemn message for the dead. Jewish funerals typically do not exceed an hour. This is followed by a casual reception, likely in the family’s home.
Buddhist funerals: Buddhist funerals are the most unique on this list because they don’t require strict guidelines to be followed. You can expect some prayers and meditation at a ceremony like this, though.
Money seems to be a constraint in nearly every activity, and the same goes for funeral services. It can be expected that the longer a service lasts, the more expensive it will be. Several funeral homes charge by time and may even penalize you if you exceed a set schedule.
Specific wishes of the departed
While the rest of the service may follow traditional structures, the departed may have left behind specific wishes they wish to be followed. This could be as simple as playing some of their favorite songs to having their favorite band play at their funeral. Ultimately, it depends on what the deceased wished for.
Cremation or Burial
Depending on whether the family chooses the departed’s body to be buried or cremated, it can affect how long funerals are. Cremating a body usually takes 30 minutes, whereas burials tend to last much longer.
About The Author
Terrence Tan Ting is an industrial engineer by profession but a full time writer by passion. He loves to write about a wide range of topics from many different industries thanks to his undying curiosity.