African American Mourning Practices & Burial Traditions (2022)

The gut-wrenching murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 put African American mourning and burial practices on international display. From the ways in which white supremacy undergird African American deathways, to the ways in which Black mourners courageously used their grief to demand societal change in policies and laws that long oppressed Black communities, the world took notice of Black grief, mourning, and burial.

Not too long ago, the passing of Aretha Franklin illustrated to the world the stylish and lavish ways Black folks bury their dead. From her open-casket viewing revealing her ‘red bottoms,’ to her gold Promethean casket (the same model George Floyd was buried in), African American last rites and mourning are steadily moving from margin to center. Although coverage of the Homegoings of George Floyd and Aretha Franklin ran non-stop on many national news networks, the vast majority of white folks and people deemed outsiders of the American Black community, still did not know exactly what they were looking at.

Well, let me put you on game by answering the most pressing question, “what is a Homegoing?”

African American Mourning Practices & Burial Traditions (1)

Image via Library of Congress.

Why is it Called a Homegoing?

Isn’t it just a funeral? Well, no.

A Homegoing, like its name implies, is the symbolic return of the human spirit back to its heavenly home, invoking the Christian idea of God as Father and so therefore going back home/to heaven to be with one’s Father/Creator of life. It is a culturally distinct end-of-life ceremony within the Black American community that is steeped in the religious culture of the Black church – although the decedent does not have to be a practicing Christian. Fundamental to the Homegoing are the gospel songs and church hymns, and it is usually set in a church, namely the church home of the decedent or the bereaved family.

The hymns, gospel songs and the designated solos frame the Homegoing encouraging public displays of grief. At my maternal grandmother’s Homegoing, we made sure that her oldest child, my Auntie Jamie, sang “When You Hear of My Homegoing,” one of grandmama’s favorite spirituals and one she had long requested to be sung when her time came. Mourners clapped in unison, shouted, and cried. The relief provides the necessary steps toward healing for which the songs and the eulogy, which doubles as a sermon, both play a very important part. The syncopated sounds and rhythm can provide balm to a hurting soul while the eulogy reaffirms the importance of the decedent’s life and the notion that they are in a better place.

The Homegoing is the ceremonial send-off of the deceased to heaven. What’s important to remember is that it is a celebration of the decedent’s life. Its key elements–along with the public expression of grief and well-placed spirituals–are length, open-casket, style and flare. Time is generally suspended at a Homegoing and it is acceptable for songs to run long and for those in attendance to sing songs not on the program and even to come to the front of the church and share memories of the deceased, highlighting their importance to the community.

Upon entry, mourners, in pairs, are directed by church ushers and/or funeral home staff to file past the open casket stop and say last goodbyes and even remark on what a good job the funeral director did on making the decedent look so good. As ushers and funeral home staff direct them to their seat, they follow the path that leads them from the open casket to file past the front row–the immediately bereaved family members–where hugs and looks of encouragement are given. Upon departure, ushers and funeral home staff direct mourners to file past the open casket to say one last goodbye and file out the church to the outside.

For more on this topic:

1) Passed On: African American Mourning Stories, A Memorial by Karla Holloway.

2) “Homegoings” directed and produced by Christine Turner

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Image via Library of Congress.

Open Casket / ”Casket Sharp”

Traditionally speaking, Black folks have an open-casket Homegoing and when they don’t, the whispering may very well start as to why not. You may overhear comments that presume the funeral director could not ‘fix’ the decedent well enough to life-like status, or that the bereaved did not want ‘so-and-so’ all up on their deceased loved one (i.e. touching/kissing the body). Whatever the reason, it is more common than not for the body to be on full view throughout the entire ceremony. However, it is just as common for the funeral home staff to close the casket right after all mourners have had their viewing upon entering the Homegoing. That signals to all funeral go-ers that not only will they not get a customary second chance to view the body at the end of the Homegoing, but also that the family is asking for privacy as they grieve and mourn.

“Casket sharp” was curiously derived from the Homegoing being one of the only public appearances where Black folks were allowed to present themselves not as someone’s slave, servant or Jim Crow minstrel.

(Video) Journey of African American Funeral Service 2

More than anything, the open-casket viewing is a time for the decedent to shine and look their very best–”casket sharp.” Casket sharp is a term commonly used in the Black community to describe not just that someone is wearing formal wear, but that the person is stylish and very well-dressed in a manner that is fit for the most formal of formal occasions – the Homegoing. The description of style and flair in the overall ensemble that includes coiffed hair, shoes, and accessories is simply unmatched. Casket sharp is not thrown around but intentionally invoked when someone’s outfit is clearly superior to all present. It is so flawless and thus should be the last outfit ever worn– their Homegoing.

“Casket sharp” was curiously derived from the Homegoing being one of the only public appearances where Black folks were allowed to present themselves not as someone’s slave, servant or Jim Crow minstrel. It is a colloquialism rooted in this defense mechanism so much so that once Black people were admitted to the American cash economy during Reconstruction, elaborate funerals were at the top of their list. This was dramatized throughout the first half of the twentieth century in movies like “Imitation of Life” where the co-star, Annie (played by Juanita Moore), had a deathbed scene where she has written out funeral instructions, right down to what she would wear in her casket.

In contemporary times, casket sharp is used not just to describe someone’s Sunday’s Best but more so a deliberate display of expensive clothing, jewellery and one’s socio-economic status that may or may not include upward mobility from higher education and stardom. This was directly illustrated in Rickey Smiley’s 2011 comedy stand-up routine entitled “Open Casket Sharp”, where he was dressed in a fashionable designer suit meant to display his accomplishments as a famed comedian, actor and radio show host. In contemporary times, casket sharp has expanded to mean class, wealth and social status that was illustrated by clothing and dress accessories.

Musical Selections

As previously mentioned, church hymns, gospel songs and spirituals all frame the Homegoing celebration. At its start, while mourners are escorted in by church ushers and/or the funeral home staff, the church choir sings hymns about heaven, God, hope, and the healing strength of the Lord. This is especially true for me when I hear “Total Praise” at a loved one’s services. It is not just the lyrics but the volume and passion accompanied by the organ and drums that extend hope and give comfort to mourners. They unify mourners and allow for funeral goers to give a choral embrace to the family who is suffering a loss.

In addition, and through their selected renditions, soloists are able to give condolence and pay respects. It is very common for soloists, as they prepare to sing, to first discuss their relationship to the deceased, shed tears through the memory and then use the song as a way to individually grieve but take the steps to publicly heal in the supportive environment.

As bereaved Courtney Humphrey prepared to sing “His Eye Is On the Sparrow,” a popular song sung at Homegoings, you hear her say that she inherited her voice from her grandfather, he would want her to sing, so as emotionally difficult as it was for her, she was going to “push through it.” (Watch here). As she crescendos and sings the lyrics “When Jesus is my portion/My constant friend is he,” a fellow mourner shouts “sing Courtney” (2:00-2:18). This shout is heard among the many “amens” and claps that let her know she was not alone in her mourning and not alone in a new life without her grandfather.

For more on this topic:

African American Mourning Practices & Burial Traditions (3)

Photograph via Anita Katherine Dennis

Funeral Programs

During a ceremony where time is suspended, and just about every mourner wants to stand and a give a special tribute about the deceased or sing a solo, it is important to have a structured agenda of scheduled activities. This is one of the main functions of the funeral program. The following are the elements and the ordering of a Homegoing celebration, although other Homegoings may include more and have particular elements carried out by different members of the community, and may be arranged a bit differently.

Musical Prelude

(Video) Death, Dying and Bereavement - African American

Processional

Scriptures

Old Testament……………………………….….. Pastor

New Testament……………………………..…….Family Member

Prayer…………………………………………………Pastor

Words of Encouragement…………………….Pastor

Solo…………………………………………….……..Friend of the family

Obituary (Read Silently)

Special Tributes

Co-workers

Members of community organizations where decedent was a member

Members of volunteer organizations where decedent was a volunteer

Friends

Extended Family

Immediate Family

Reading of Resolutions…………………………..….Extended Family

Solo………………………………………………….………Friend of the Family

Eulogy………………………………………………………Pastor

Recessional

As the institution of slavery has made it extremely difficult to trace our family tree, funeral programs have served as a very important means of record keeping.

(Video) "Racism Is as British as a Cup of Tea": Kehinde Andrews Says Many Black Brits Don't Mourn the Queen

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Courtesy of the author

The Homegoing is a celebration of life and the funeral program shouts this. At least one page of the funeral program is full of high-resolution color photos of the deceased posed with his/her family and friends, while it is common to have two full pages front and back.

My nephew Willie (pictured here), had 3 full pages of color photos that illustrated his life from when he was a little tike up until the youthful age of 28, when his life was cut short by senseless street violence. There are multiple pictures with his mother, son, girlfriend, grandparents, aunts/uncles, great aunts/uncles, cousins, and friends. This was followed up with a page that chronicled his life: listing of date and place of birth, educational background and listing of his maternal and paternal kinship network, going back 3 generations. Funeral programs serve as biographies–a way to connect the future with the past–another one of its functions. As the institution of slavery has made it extremely difficult to trace our family tree, funeral programs have served as a very important means of record keeping.

For more on this topic:

1) “A Conversation with Aunt Carol: The Fluid Functionality of Funeral Programs in African-American Culture” by Michelle Pinkard within Women and the Material Culture of Death edited by Maureen Goggin and Beth Tobin.

2) “New Digital Archive Explores 133 Years of African American Funeral Programs” by Nora McGreevy.

The Repast

The repast is the literal feast that follows the burial or, if in the occasion the body is cremated, after the Homegoing (FYI: cremation is still comparably low in the Black American community). The food is prepared to perfection and prepared in bulk for all funeral goers to eat–and eat 2 or 3 times over. Traditionally, the food is prepared by the home church as a gift to the bereaved. At my nephew Willie’s Homegoing, not only did the church home prepare a feast that included multiple meat, vegetable and dessert options, but the very good friend of my sister Aleta (Willie’s mother) owns a BBQ restaurant and insisted on bringing food from her family’s home restaurant.

When someone dies, appetite is usually the first thing to go. The repast, a feast shared between the bereaved, is a way to get back to eating, a way back to normalcy. It is a time of nourishment and fellowship–repairing your body with sustenance surrounding by family and friends. It is at the repast, usually the very last event in the last rites ceremonies, that there is a purposeful shift in mood, a shift to a celebration, sometimes even a party. At Davante’s repast, this is exactly what happened. The first five or six minutes of the video, as mourners are arriving to the repast, you see how folks are greeting one another and from the way that most are seeking out and hugging a middle-aged woman in the black mask wearing a black and white dress, that she is the mother of the decedent. And there is lots of conversation, laughter and joy at seeing family members and friends of family that one has not seen in a long time. This is all mixed with music and, of course, food.

There is joy in meeting people who have worked, volunteered and/or gone to school with the decedent. They share their memories of the deceased again highlighting his/her importance to a bigger community.

R.I.P. T-shirts

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Courtesy of the author

(Video) Why Are Black & White Funeral Homes STILL Separate?

R.I.P. T-shirts are ritualized mourning wear. Although it may not be unique to African American mourning culture, it is absolutely distinct to it. Having multiple origin stories that tie back to 1980s and 1990s urban gang culture, and the burgeoning hip-hop culture, these T-shirts feature a high-definition picture of the decedent with imagery and phrases important to his/her life and the bereaved family. The pictures are carefully picked and most likely convey an important memory to the wearer or bereaved family. On the shirt are birth/death dates as well as religious iconography to convey that the person is in heaven.

The R.I.P. T-shirt resists stereotypes that marginalize Black mourning, showing that the deceased were part of kinship networks that miss them fiercely.

Believed to be rooted in gang culture, mainstream white society has sought to dismiss the decedents featured on mourning wear by trying to portray them as hooligans and ruffians. By putting angel wings on the deceased, and bible scriptures right alongside family nicknames, the R.I.P. T-shirt resists stereotypes that marginalize Black mourning, showing that the deceased were part of kinship networks that miss them fiercely. Usually first worn at the wake or the repast, the R.I.P. T-shirt helps to usher in a celebratory mood during the last rites events. With food in hand and fellowshipping with other bereaved family members, mourners are encouraged to remember the happy memories, starting with the one on the t-shirt.

For more on this topic:

1) “Fresh to Death: African Americans and RIP T-Shirts” by Kami Fletcher.

2) “Long Live Chill #LLC: Exploring Grief, Memorial, & Ritual in African American R.I.P. T-Shirt Culture” by Kami Fletcher within Beyond the Veil: Reflexive Studies of Death and Dying, edited by Aubrey Thamann and Kalliopi Christodoulaki.

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Image via Rootsweb.

Slave Cemeteries

Nothing speaks volumes about African American mourning and burial traditions like the slave cemetery. Every tradition Black folks practice today is born out of a period of enslavement that tried to crush our humanity and erase our African roots. But it was through death that we lived!

The slave cemetery, shunned by historical plantations, was the space amidst the trees, water and outskirts of the plantation that our Black ancestors claimed for themselves and their ancestors. They buried their loved ones and remembered them there. As Lynn Rainville has uncovered in her research on hundreds of slave cemeteries in Virginia, these spaces tell the important stories of African American history and culture but also American history, and therefore must be protected instead of left to rot with no financial backing from the federal government. On December 29, 2020 the U.S. Senate passed a bill, The African American Burial Grounds Network Act, that will protect and financial support the restoration and preservation of these sacred spaces.

FAQs

What are African American funerals like? ›

It's a chance for family and friends to pay their respects in a less structured fashion. The funeral will follow, usually in a funeral chapel or a church. The celebration is often quite large, with lots of guests. Black families often hold funerals on Saturday, allowing as many people as possible to attend.

How do Africans bury their loved ones? ›

The day of the funeral there is usually a procession to the burial site, sometimes before sunrise, with singing and dancing. Many bury their dead on family land and the plot may be near the house but not on planting fields, believing crops won't grow, according to the Encyclopedia of African Religions.

What do African people do when someone dies? ›

Death is recognized in Africa through a rite of passage that prepares the spirit of the deceased to journey on to the next realm. In many African societies, after the body is buried, the family will have a second, more elaborate funeral. This second funeral takes place some forty days after the first burial.

How did slaves conduct funeral or funeral rites? ›

During slavery, the black communities were not permitted to gather to conduct their funeral rituals for fear that they would conspire to revolt. Slaves that died were ordinarily just buried without any ceremony in unmarked graves in non-crop producing ground.

Why do African Americans wait so long to have a funeral? ›

Unlike some ethnicities, many black people still view funeral services as "primary rituals," so time is taken to arrange and gather finances, make preparations and inform friends and relatives (often via word of mouth).

What is a wake in black culture? ›

A wake is then held for the deceased between 2 to 3 days prior to the funeral, and this allows family members and friends to have few personal moments with the deceased. On the day of the funeral, a group of police escorts arrive to the bereaved family's house, and the family is escorted to the church.

Do Africans wear white to funerals? ›

Beyonce again weaves The South and Africa together, “wearing all white to the funeral.” In many African cultures, white represents death, not black, and in southern states, it's becoming more common to wear white to funeral services.

What are some death rituals? ›

Common Death Rituals Still Practiced
  • Throwing A Handful of Dirt on the Casket. It is common in many cultures for mourners to toss a handful of dirt on the casket before leaving the cemetery. ...
  • Mourning. ...
  • The Wake. ...
  • Dressing In Black. ...
  • Funeral Procession. ...
  • Bagpipes Playing. ...
  • Tearing a Piece of Clothing. ...
  • Tolling of the Bell.

What do Africans wear to funerals? ›

Attire for African funerals is very formal, with many people opting to buy new clothes and shoes or wearing their Sunday church outfits. Women tend to prefer all black, possibly with a dash of white or red, while men wear black or navy suits. The wearing of either a black, blue or white shirt with a suit is acceptable.

What is the African belief about death? ›

According to the African belief system, life does not end with death, but continues in another realm. Becoming an ancestor after death is a desirable goal of every individual, a feat which cannot be achieved if an individual asks for an unnatural death by attempting to utilize advance care directives.

How long do mourners wear black? ›

Mourners wear only black until the 40 day mark and typically do not dance or celebrate any major events for one year.

What is a cleansing ceremony after death? ›

Cleansing is a symbolic act that purifies all members of the household from defilement by death. This is done for all relatives following burial but a widow remains impure not less than one year of 'successful' mourning in most cases, before she is cleansed and is then absolved into society's normal life.

Why is black for mourning? ›

Why do people wear black to funerals? Nowadays, in much of the western world, wearing black to a funeral is the most common color and is considered a sign of respect. However, the tradition actually dates back to the ancient Romans, when mourners would adopt a darker colored Toga to show they were in mourning.

How were slaves buried in America? ›

They lie underground, often with no marks to identify them. They're often interred in out-of-the-way places, hidden from the public. In some cases, their neighbors are the ones they were forced to call “master.”

What is a crowning ceremony at funeral? ›

The act of a crowning ceremony, even removed from the context of homegoing, is to offer a final gift of grace to the departed which they may not have received in life. A recognition of their importance in the lives of others, and a crowning of the life they lived, however short it might have been.

Why are funerals 3 days after death? ›

Historically, funerals had to take place after just a matter of days, because of decomposition. With today's preservation methods, families have a bit more time to prepare and get affairs in order. This helps families make arrangements, and to pick a day to hold the funeral.

Do black people wear black to funerals? ›

Black is a common color for people to wear at a funeral because it symbolizes the mourning of a loved one and the somber occasion.

How long do black people wait to have a funeral? ›

There is usually a five to seven day mourning period before the actual funeral. Before the funeral takes place there is generally a ceremony known as a wake. At this time, close friends of the family of the deceased pay respects to the family and view the body.

What is a wake vs funeral? ›

For example, a wake is a more informal time for visitation and remembrance of the dead, whereas a funeral typically contains structured rituals and is often religious in nature. It's common for a family to have both a wake and a funeral in order to commemorate the death of a loved one.

What is a black funeral called? ›

July 2019) A homegoing (or home-going) service is an African-American and Black-Canadian Christian funeral tradition marking the going home of the deceased to the Lord or to heaven. It is a celebration that has become a vibrant part of African American and Black Canadian history and culture.

What is the color for grief? ›

Wearing dark colours for mourning has long been a tradition in many parts of the western world, in particular large parts of Europe and North America. The association of the colour black with death and loss is centuries old and is believed to have originated during Roman times.

What does purple mean at a funeral? ›

Purple: dignity, elegance (often chosen for the funeral services of grandparents) Red: courage, love, respect. Red, Dark: grief, love, sorrow. White: humility, innocence, purity, reverence, spirituality, youthfulness (often used at the funerals of children)

What does wearing yellow to a funeral mean? ›

"Wearing Yellow to a Funeral" is a joke song in Six the Musical. It is performed by Anne Boleyn and is brought up after Don't Lose Ur Head, however, Anne is cut off before even finishing the first line. The title is a reference to how Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn both wore yellow following Catherine of Aragon's passing.

What does throwing dirt into a grave mean? ›

One of the hardest parts of burial is saying goodbye to your loved one for the final time. Throwing dirt on the grave is a visual symbol of this goodbye, and it's a final offering to the loved one.

What do people throw into graves? ›

At a burial

At many burials, earth or other items such as flowers or rose petals are thrown into the grave at the end of the service. Sometimes only immediate family does this and sometimes all the mourners follow and do this as well.

What happens at a Zulu funeral? ›

The Zulu people believe that the dead have the same desires, such as food and drink, as the living. Close family members will throw sand onto the deceased before the grave is filled. His clothes, one of his best outfits, will also be placed in the grave.

Can you wear purple to funeral? ›

In fact, it can be considered disrespectful and unlucky to wear purple if you are not attending a funeral, as the color has a sacred, devotional meaning to it. In Thailand, purple defines sorrow, and is reserved for widows to wear while mourning the death of their spouse.

Is a black lace dress appropriate for a funeral? ›

Lace Cocktail Dress

A funeral isn't the time to dress down so you want to avoid sundresses, even if they are black. A black lace cocktail dress is the perfect blend of somber and dressy. Whether long or short, the lace adds a touch of glamour to the dress and allows you to stand out.

What is the importance of death rituals? ›

Rich in history and rife with symbolism, the funeral ceremony helps us acknowledge the reality of the death, gives testimony to the life of the deceased, encourages the expression of grief in a way consistent with the culture's values, provides support to mourners, allows for the embracing of faith and beliefs about ...

What are the beliefs of African traditional religion? ›

Native African religions are centered on ancestor worship, the belief in a spirit world, supernatural beings and free will (unlike the later developed concept of faith). Deceased humans (and animals or important objects) still exist in the spirit world and can influence or interact with the physical world.

How long does a Nigerian funeral last? ›

Their funeral services last a week. The Christian church put restrictions on the Igbo people. They have to bury their deceased within two weeks. Igbo funerals usually only last a few days and the festivities are reserved for a second burial.

What does 9 days of mourning mean? ›

The nine days is the period in which we mourn the calamities and misfortune of the Jewish people and is the most intense part of the three weeks. It's a time of grieving over the destruction of the first and second Beit Hamikdash, along with the associated tragedies.

Why are they called widow's weeds? ›

The term "widow's weeds" refers to the black clothing worn (principally) by female widows during the Victorian era, which dictated a strict "etiquette of mourning" that governed both their behavior and their appearance following the deaths of their husbands.

What does wearing white to a funeral mean? ›

White is a color of mourning across the globe

Buddhists wear white to funerals as a symbol of mourning, and respect to the deceased person. Believing that the first three days should be a period of positivity, so that the deceased can transition from life to death peacefully, Buddhists prefer to mourn in white.

What is Makhuma? ›

Makhuma is what happens to you when you fail to respect the mourning period, or in the case of a man who has sex with a widow before the end of her mourning period, therefore strictly upholding the notion of the widow's uncleanness during her mourning period.

What happens at Kurova GUVA ceremony? ›

The Kurova Guva ritual-myth ceremony reasserts the continued spiritual existence of the dead person by seeking to bring that person back into the community of ancestral spirits that are recognised by the dead person's surviving family members.

What is cleansing ceremony? ›

A Cleansing Ceremony is a spiritual cleansing to get rid of negativity and find balance and harmony in your body, gain more clarity in the direction you want to go in life.

What does wearing red to a funeral mean? ›

By wearing red to a funeral, they are honoring the deceased and helping to send them on their journey to the afterlife. In addition to red, other colors such as black, white, and green are also commonly worn to funerals in Ghana.

What should you not wear to a funeral? ›

Avoid dressing in casual clothing, such as athletic wear, tank tops, or shorts. Skip the flip-flops, tennis shoes, sneakers, or boat shoes. Remove the neon necktie, purse, or accessory. Shy away from wearing jeans, even black ones, because they are considered too casual for a funeral.

What does purple mean when someone dies? ›

Livor mortis, also known as post-mortem lividity or post-mortem hypostasis, refers to the pooling of blood in the lower portion, or dependent parts, of the body after death. This results in a dark purple discoloration of the skin.

What do sea shells on a grave mean? ›

Loose shells placed on a tombstone or dropped on the ground around it are also a visible reminder that the person buried below continues to be remembered and honored by those still living."

Did slaves have tombstones? ›

Among the tombstones of enslaved African-Americans Rainville has researched, only about 5 percent have been inscribed–and not always with the typical epitaphs we might expect. “Very often there are symbols or initials, almost like a form of code,” she says.

What is a black cemetery? ›

Black cemeteries are sites of knowledge which are currently underrepresented in the national dialogue. As a means of expanding these efforts, the network is a hub for locating, preserving, and recording black cemetery sites and associated community histories to ensure they are not lost.

Why do they cover the legs in a casket? ›

If someone donated their skin tissue after death, this is usually taken from the lower half of the body. This means the body will be preserved in a special plastic undergarment to protect it from leaking into the casket. To cover this, the lower half will not be exposed at the funeral viewing.

What happens at a black funeral? ›

It's a chance for family and friends to pay their respects in a less structured fashion. The funeral will follow, usually in a funeral chapel or a church. The celebration is often quite large, with lots of guests. Black families often hold funerals on Saturday, allowing as many people as possible to attend.

Why do undertakers bow to the coffin? ›

So why do Funeral Directors bow at coffins? Respect. The aim when working with any family is to show their loved one as much dignity and respect as possible. Even though this person may not be walking on this earth any longer does not mean that they deserve any less respect.

What should I wear to an African American funeral? ›

Attire for African funerals is very formal, with many people opting to buy new clothes and shoes or wearing their Sunday church outfits. Women tend to prefer all black, possibly with a dash of white or red, while men wear black or navy suits. The wearing of either a black, blue or white shirt with a suit is acceptable.

What do you wear to a black person funeral? ›

Although black is the most traditional of colors, smart and dark clothing is also acceptable. Wearing dark grey or deep blue is just as appropriate as black, while brown and lighter greys are suitable for the vast majority of funeral services.

How do Africans grieve? ›

In traditional African thought of death, the grieving process is characterized by rituals such as the bereaved family members shav- ing their hair, and the slaughtering of a domestic animal. Different rituals are performed depending on who is the deceased and how they have died.

What is a black funeral called? ›

July 2019) A homegoing (or home-going) service is an African-American and Black-Canadian Christian funeral tradition marking the going home of the deceased to the Lord or to heaven. It is a celebration that has become a vibrant part of African American and Black Canadian history and culture.

Why do they cover the legs in a casket? ›

If someone donated their skin tissue after death, this is usually taken from the lower half of the body. This means the body will be preserved in a special plastic undergarment to protect it from leaking into the casket. To cover this, the lower half will not be exposed at the funeral viewing.

How much money should you give for condolences? ›

A general rule of thumb is that donations should be in line with the cost of a bouquet of funeral flowers. Even just a nominal donation for people on tight budgets is a welcome gesture. Funeral flowers tend to cost in the range of $50 to $80 for a moderate to well-sized bouquet, and $100 or more for a large wreath.

What does pink mean at a funeral? ›

Pink: admiration, appreciation, elegance, grace, love (often used at the funerals of women or children)

How long do you wear black for mourning? ›

Since the 1870s, mourning practices for some cultures, even those who have emigrated to the United States, are to wear black for at least two years, though lifelong black for widows remains in some parts of Europe.

What does wearing white to a funeral mean? ›

White is a color of mourning across the globe

Buddhists wear white to funerals as a symbol of mourning, and respect to the deceased person. Believing that the first three days should be a period of positivity, so that the deceased can transition from life to death peacefully, Buddhists prefer to mourn in white.

What do you say at a wake receiving line? ›

They are often held in funeral homes and the family might be in a receiving line. Simply wait to go through the receiving line and offer brief but sincere condolences. For example, you could say something like, “I'm sorry for your loss. Michael was such a special man.

Do Africans wear white to funerals? ›

Beyonce again weaves The South and Africa together, “wearing all white to the funeral.” In many African cultures, white represents death, not black, and in southern states, it's becoming more common to wear white to funeral services.

What are some death rituals? ›

Common Death Rituals Still Practiced
  • Throwing A Handful of Dirt on the Casket. It is common in many cultures for mourners to toss a handful of dirt on the casket before leaving the cemetery. ...
  • Mourning. ...
  • The Wake. ...
  • Dressing In Black. ...
  • Funeral Procession. ...
  • Bagpipes Playing. ...
  • Tearing a Piece of Clothing. ...
  • Tolling of the Bell.

What is Zulu funeral? ›

Zulu tribe funerals

The Zulu believe that a body must be buried in the ground out of respect. Many of the funeral traditions also call for a burial of the deceased personal belongings with them. It is thought that if the ritual is not performed correctly, the dead will come back to trouble the living.

Do black people cremate? ›

One of the major reasons African Americans choose cremation less than Hispanics and Whites is that the funeral is extremely important in the African American community and there is again a misconception that one cannot have a funeral and be cremated.

What is crowning at a funeral? ›

The act of a crowning ceremony, even removed from the context of homegoing, is to offer a final gift of grace to the departed which they may not have received in life. A recognition of their importance in the lives of others, and a crowning of the life they lived, however short it might have been.

What is a good Bible verse for a funeral? ›

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Videos

1. Aftermath of a Chimpanzee Murder Caught in Rare Video | National Geographic
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2. 10 Bizarre Funeral Rituals in the World | Top 10 Weird List
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3. MALEMA refuses to Mourn, Message on the death of Queen Elizabeth II has touched a lot of Africans
(Make Afrika Great)
4. Queen's Funeral: Highlights and Unseen Moments
(Entertainment Tonight)
5. Traditional Navajo View on Death and Grieving
(Navajo Traditional Teachings)
6. Understanding Islamic Funeral Rituals
(Our Grandfather Story)

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