What to Expect at Mormon Funeral Services

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints say goodbye to their dead

The Mormon Church, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was founded in the 1830s by Joseph Smith Jr. Smith claimed that he had translated a third testament to the Bible. He called this book “The Book of Mormon.” Currently, there are about 15 million Mormons worldwide.

Joseph Smith, the Prophet who founded the Mormon religion

Joseph Smith Jr.
Credit: mormonnewsroom.org

If you have a Mormon friend or acquaintance who dies, your first step should be to find out whether people outside of the Mormon church are welcome at the service. In general, Mormon funeral services that are held in a temple are private. A funeral located in a funeral home, a ward or another church welcomes visitors. If you are unsure call the facility or the family to check.

Appropriate dress at Mormon funeral services is modest and subdued. Dark colored slacks are fine for men. Women may wear dark pant suits or a dark skirt or dress. Do not wear jewelry with a crucifix or a cross as this is offensive to church members.

When the person who has died has gone through a program of temple endowment, he or she is dressed in white temple garments. Family members who are the same sex as the person who died generally handle the dressing. If family members are not available, members of the church hierarchy take care of this. Burial is the preferred method of disposition, but cremation is also allowed.

What to Expect at the Service

If Mormon funeral services have viewings, they are usually brief ones that take place before the spoken part of the ceremonies. Ceremonies usually last from 60 to 90 minutes. You may be surprised to hear the officiant read from “The Book of Mormon” and encourage others to embrace the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This is part of the ceremony because bringing people into the church is important to a Mormon’s spiritual life.

interior of a Mormon temple

Non-Mormons may not be allowed to attend a service inside the temple
Credit: ldsdaily.com

Mormons believe that when a person dies, the soul separates from the body. The spirit goes into paradise or prison. On the day of final judgment, all souls go to one of three “kingdoms.” Those who have lived exemplary lives go to the Celestial Kingdom. Those who have lived good but imperfect lives go to the Terrestrial Kingdom. Those who lived sinful lives and refuse to repent are relegated to the Telestial Kingdom.

Mormon funeral services give survivors a chance to present the gospel, both for their own comfort and as a chance to teach their beliefs to others in keeping with one of the key tenants with their faith. Proselytizing increases their chances of entering the Celestial Kingdom on judgment day.

After the Mormon funeral services are over, there is usually a post-funeral reception with a “mercy meal” provided by the women of the church. Thus, there is no need to bring food to Mormon funeral services. Families do appreciate flowers and plants unless they have requested that money be donated to the church or another cause instead.

Attending a funeral is a way to gain closure for yourself and offer your condolences to loved ones. Being familiar with different cultural customs can help enhance your participation in the final goodbye.

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