Funeral and burial ceremonies are important to the living in various ways. They help the living to come to terms with the reality that their loved ones are there no more. They bring people together, something that reduces the emotional burden of the family members, relatives, and close friends of the deceased. A funeral also gives a meaning to the life of the deceased; without a funeral, people would never know what kind of a person the deceased was, what he or she achieved in life, or how the deceased made an impact on other people's life. However, not all funerals and burials are the same when it comes to beliefs and practices. The Orthodox Church, for example, holds different funeral practices to other churches or religions. Here are five things you may not have known about orthodox funerals and burials:
1. No Funerals For People Who Die By Committing Suicide
The Orthodox Church does not hold funerals for people who die by taking their own lives because the act is viewed as a grave sin. But at times, special considerations may be given and the Bishop may allow a funeral service to be held in the church depending on the nature of the death. For example, a funeral can be held in an Orthodox Church if the person was insane when committing suicide, or if he or she committed suicide by accident.
2. No Funerals For People Who Want To Be Cremated
The Orthodox Church believes that humans are created in the image of God. By opting for cremation, a person is acting against God's work, and therefore, a funeral service cannot be held in an Orthodox Church for such a person. However, the cremated remains can be buried according to the practices of the church.
3. The Dead Are Buried Facing East
During the funeral service, the casket is placed on a solea in such a way that the body faces East. The same practice is also observed during the burial service where the deceased person's feet face East. The Orthodox Church conducts this practice due to the belief that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will be from the East.
4. Makaria Is Held After A Burial Service
After the burial service, a funeral luncheon known as Makaria is held either in the social hall of the church or any other suitable location. Fish is the main dish during the luncheon because it is a historic symbol for Christians. Even though Makaria is a tradition, it is not a must. But most people still practice Makaria because it helps to reduce the grief and the emotional burden.