Although all modern funerals are essentially the same, there still are some tweaks to every funeral service being held in a particular country. Standard wakes, burials, memorial services, and cremations are usually available in most countries, so the difference lies in how long it takes and what practices are observed. Such practices are deeply-rooted in both culture and tradition.
In China, for instance, all family members must wear white. Food served during the wake should be sweet so that only pleasant things will be brought over by the dead as he crosses over to the ‘other side of life.’
Cardboard representations of earthly possessions like mansions, luxury cars, as well as appliances and gadgets are also within the memorial service area, and these will all be burned so that the deceased family member will have something to use in the afterlife.
The Chinese also burn ‘paper money’ for their deceased to spend. And when attending a wake of a Chinese person, the attendee should not bother saying goodbye to the bereaved because it is believed to be bad luck.
In Muslim Countries, the dead should be buried or cremated within twenty four hours in a white burial shroud.
In Ghana, the deceased is put in a coffin that signifies whatever he dreams about or is interested in. For instance a driver will be buried in a car-shaped coffin.
In India, the deceased is usually cremated in the same day he died. This is because the Indians believe that the soul shall be resurrected in another form and so, there’s no need to preserve the physical body. The ashes will then be scattered in a river or any other place requested prior to death.
In Japan, true to its reputation of being one of the most modernized countries in the world, some of the most expensive graves come with touch screens showing details of the life of the deceased person. Some also come with a business card holder to contain the names of the people who paid respects. Japanese corpses are usually cremated, with the ashes displayed in the altar of a family home for 35 days. Incense sticks will be lit throughout this period.
In France, on the other hand, walking funeral processions are still rather common. The French views this as an act of togetherness, condoling with the family of the deceased. If the death was caused by murder or killing, or the deceased is too young, then handshaking is discouraged.
In England, a horse-drawn hearse can still be seen during funeral processions, with the family members walking the last few yards. Well-meaning gentlemen who come across the cortege take off their hats in deference to the deceased – a practice that has existed for centuries.
In the United States, the “green funeral” is starting to gain popularity. Some families choose not to have their dead beamed with harsh chemicals, or would have their dead buried in organic coffins or bamboo wraps, or even banana branches that are processed in an environment-friendly way.
These will decompose along with the body and return to the Earth without any harmful chemicals. This eco-friendly burial trend is also very meticulous even in the gravesite because it’s vital to ensure that all materials to be used are environment friendly. There are those who actually dig the gravesite by hand, for lesser carbon footprint. Unsurprisingly, more and more memorial parks in the United States are allowing green burials.
All in all, while death is often associated with grief, these practices make it clear that one’s trip to the afterlife could also be synonymous with uniqueness.