Russian Orthodox Funeral Traditions
Of all the Eastern Orthodox churches, it’s said that the Russian Orthodox Church is the largest in both reach and numbers. With over 70% of the Russian community identifying as a member of the Russian Orthodox church, it comes as no surprise that the church is seen as not only a religious entity, but a shining symbol of both Russian tradition and heritage. This is why countless Russians who are currently living in the United States look to their roots and choose to partake in a traditional Russian Orthodox funeral.
Within the Russian Orthodox church, death is a concept sliced between partings deemed “good” and “bad.” A “good” death is one that presents itself during old age and habitually involves family and friends surrounding the loved one. These deaths are frequently believed to be associated with good fortune for the collected family and friends of the departed member. Conversely, a “bad” death is one that occurs as a result of unnatural causes. This can include illness, war, or murder, and typically leads to a much more somber funeral gathering.
However, to the church, death is not a thing to be feared. Rather, the afterlife is viewed as a new journey for the departed – moving on from this world into a better one. Therefore, the casket is made to be as comfortable as possible for the deceased, often lined in comforters, blankets, pillows, and sentimentally comforting items. It’s also tradition for mourners to throw coins into the grave to “pay for the soul’s passage to the other world,” while their family throws the first handfuls of dirt over the casket to say their final farewell.
Russian Orthodox Funeral Practices
The Holy Orthodox Church of Russian Orthodox individuals contains a plethora of prayer services for the departed, commencing with the retirement of the soul from the body, throughout and subsequent to the funeral service. These memorable services allow family and friends to mourn and present hope for the future resurrection of their departed loved one. What’s more, the funeral services also serve to aid the departed souls so they can be granted eternal, peaceful rest. In addition to thoughtful prayers spoken by family, there are myriad folk customs often displayed during and following funeral services within the Orthodox culture. Many of these folk customs are superstitious, including the action of throwing out all of the water in the house to assist the departed soul in their novel journey to eternal rest and to prevent the soul from becoming “stuck” in the water.
Memorial meals are typically held at the trapeza, or Russian church hall. Nonetheless, Russian Orthodox families also obey the tradition of eating at the cemetery where their loved one is resting. The remarkable memory of the departed loved one never ends with the funeral service. Many Russian Orthodox families pray that the memory of the deceased loved one may be graced and eternal. Per Russian Orthodox custom, special services of the departed, also known as “panikhidas” are performed on the first, third, ninth, and fortieth days after death, as well as on the anniversary of the departed loved one’s death.
Russian Orthodox Burials in New Jersey
Memorial Properties recognizes and appreciates how important of a role religion and culture play in our lives, and it is because of this that we have dedicated ourselves to being well versed in all different kinds of ceremonial and religious funerary proceedings. Our experience in performing Russian Orthodox funerals is unmatched, and we also offer customizable packages to ensure that each service fits the needs of every individual and family member who enters our grounds. Our burial options include in-ground, above-ground, and cremation, so you can choose what is most fitting to your cultural and religious traditions. If you are interested in planning or pre-planning a Russian Orthodox burial, contact us today at 732-820-0211.