Organising A Funeral Service: Culture, Religion & Bereavement Etiquette

Organising A Funeral Service: Culture, Religion & Bereavement Etiquette

This week, I've taken the time to help you gain perspective, as perspective is an imperative element of organising a funeral service. It can be very difficult time in life, though it's important to be aware of your surroundings more than ever.

Imagine you and a friend are standing at the kitchen window. What do you see? Perhaps you see green grass, the backyard tree and the tyre swing hanging from the middle branch. You ask your friend what can they see?. They answer casually “I was looking at the neighbour’s car”.

The window metaphor can help us to understand the effects of culture and religion on our views and our subsequent interaction with the world around us. This ‘world view’ also shapes our beliefs and behaviour we hold dear during bereavement. We have touched on this topic in other blog posts discussing myths about grief and the importance of effective communication whilst sharing your memories.

Given Australia is a nation grounded in multiculturalism and diversity, it is very likely that you have friends, family and colleagues from a different culture or religious background. At Lady Anne Fu-nerals we are accustomed to carrying out a variety of different cultural and religious funerals including RSL, Orthodox, Non-Religious, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints/Mormons, Buddhist, Jehovah’s Witness, Protestant, Hindu, Roman Catholic and Masonic Lodge.

If you are not familiar with these cultural or religious denominations, it can be difficult and awkward, (even for those that follow a generally non-religious lifestyle), to attend a service without knowing the accepted etiquette.

The links above direct to advice pages if you’re a bit short on your religious knowledge with a vari-ety of extra online references available after a simple Google search.

Those that do not practice religion are often overlooked in the religion, culture and bereavement discussion but it is just as important to be aware of the norm here as it is with religious bereav-ment. Some commonly used terms to describe non-religious individuals or groups include irreligi-ous, humanist, atheist or agnostic. Compared to a religious bereavement or burial, the focus is pla-ced on the recently passed individual rather than the god and the afterlife e.g. Jesus Christ and heaven.

The important thing to remind ourselves is that bereavement is a process we all must deal with at some point in our lives. So we have a responsibility to be aware of the different rituals, even those of the non-religious, when supporting our friends, family and colleagues. To give you a head start we put together a basic question guide to help you help your loved ones during the bereavement period.

Ask Yourself

What emotions and behaviours are considered normal grief responses within the grieving person’s culture?

For some cultures, bereavement can be observed quite easily through crying and general sadness. For others, it is much more private and public expression is discouraged. Be in tune but not discri-minatory.


What are the bereaved family's beliefs surrounding death?

Hindu religions require the funeral to take place by either the next dawn or dusk wherever possible. Compare this to most Christian faiths that conduct the funeral one week after death. Non-religious families will also hold the burial one week after provided the death was due to natural causes or in the presence of a health professional (e.g. hospital).


Who is expected to attend mourning ceremonies, and how are attendees ex-pected to dress and act?

In many Christian faiths, signs of grief can extend to our clothing choices (black is most common). Compare this to Buddhism where black clothing is not required and can be avoided. Friends and family of the non-religious individual are most likely allowed to dress to their own free will unless previously specified.


Are gifts, flowers, or other offerings expected?

Buddhist cultures and religions prefer modest offerings and donations to charity where possible. Compare this to a RSL funeral which makes heavy use of patriotic symbolism including poppies, the Australian flag, The Ode and the playing of either Rouse or Reveille. For the friends and family of a non-religious individual, flowers or donations to charity are not an uncommon request.


What special days or dates will be significant for the bereaved family?

Orthodox faiths use hymns, prayers and readings from scriptures with memorials one sunday, forty days, six months and one year after the funeral. Christian faiths will usually celebrate (in their own way) the loved one’s birthday each year as well as remembering them during major Christian holi-days (Christmas & Easter). For many, bereavement continues after the physical funeral.


What types of verbal or written condolence are considered appropriate?

In most Christian faiths, eulogies are accepted along with prayers or hymns from the Bible. In non-religious funerals, all condolences are focused on the individual.

Hopefully this guides helps you with common bereavement practices and rituals. If you have a sto-ry to share, we would love to hear from you! Just leave a reply in the box below.



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Our compassionate all-female team are dedicated to supporting families in their times of need. We arrange beautiful personalised funeral services in the Gladesville & Sydney area.



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Lady Anne Funerals is here to support and assist your family through what can be a difficult time, with a ladies touch. 

We are available to discuss a range of services to support your family, including: 

  • Personalised memorial services
  • Cremation and burial services
  • Religious services catering to all faith's
  • No service, no attendance 

Please get in touch - night or day - via the form or you can call us on the number below.

Phone: 1300 74 00 74

206 Victoria Road, Gladesville 2111

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Some of the families we've helped

My family and friends were very happy with every aspect of the preparation and celebration of the end of my wife. When I knew the end was near I spoke to Yvonne who explained to me what would happen and this was done with delicacy and tact. When the end came Yvonne came to our house and explained every aspect of what would happen. We explained what we wanted for Margaret's farewell and nothing was too much trouble for Yvonne to explain or discuss. On the day of the funeral everything went like clockwork and all my relatives and friends told me how impressed they were. So thank you to Yvonne for being celebrant and MC at the farewell and thank you to all the Lady Anne team. If I were asked to score the service my family received  it would be ten out of ten.
Dick Hodge
I would like to thank you and the whole team at Lady Anne Funerals for making mums funeral the perfect goodbye. The funeral was everything and so much more than mum wanted. Nothing seemed to be too hard and that made my time far simpler than i had expected. 
The whole day was perfect and we noticed with love all the special touches from the bookmarks to the candle to the display screen with Iris's. Thank you so much. Your team felt like part of the family rather than people doing a job.
That i believe is what sets Lady Anne apart.
I cant thank you enough.

I want to send a heartfelt 'thank you’ to you both, and your team, for your compassion and your assistance in taking meticulous care of Dad and arranging such a beautiful end of life service for him. Within a matter of only a few days, which included a weekend, you were able to organise the perfect service tailored to our requests.

Not only did you organise the attendance of the RSL representative, you also went to considerable trouble to download the music and videos we had chosen, in a format that could be utilised in the service.We greatly appreciated your guidance too with organising the order of service and arranging a printed copy of the tributes for one of our friends who was deaf.

Thank you Yvonne for doing a magnificent job as the celebrant. We greatly appreciated you reading our tributes to Maurie on the family’s behalf. Thank you too for reading the poem, 'The Dash’ so beautifully.

It was comforting for our family and friends to come together in a more intimate setting, which your chapel provides. The light refreshments, which followed the service, were ideal, allowing the family to stay on and share their memories.

Dad quite often had high expectations of the way things should be done, bless him, so I was particularly mindful of doing him proud with this last expression of our love for him and a tribute to his long and meaningful life. We achieved this, with your help, and I know he would have been deeply touched and honoured. Thank you for you for all you did.


"I just wanted to say a big thank you to you and your amazing team. I couldn’t have asked for things to go any better. Everything was perfect. And your ladies were beautiful. Your Yvonne is amazing. She is patient, compassionate, caring and delivers perfection in all the elements of the proceedings. She has been an absolute Gem.

Once again thank you so very much. I would highly recommend anyone to use your company if they want a perfect funeral service. 5 star service. 5 star outcome.

There were multiple compliments on the service, on your ladies and on the care from the attendees. I’m more than happy for you to post this on any media platform as a compliment and tribute to your company.

Thank you."

Anne Leslie
“I just wanted to send you our sincerest thanks for everything you and your incredible team did for us in making the most perfect day, celebration and farewell of our beautiful Harper.

I have given a lot of thought to your business and the industry and I think it is perhaps the most important business for families to get it right when it comes to planning a funeral which may be sudden or may be a long time in the making. Either way, when one is faced with the unfortunate situation of needing to arrange a funeral, only then do you realise the importance of getting it right.

We experienced first hand the polar opposites the industry offers. It is not just about the cars, the booklets, the music and all the things that make up the day - its about the service, the care and most importantly it’s about the people.

From our very first conversation we could sense your genuine care to our situation and your attention to detail was obvious - this was very different to the previous conversations we had with others we had been referred to. Those other companies wanted to commence meetings with the paperwork side of things upfront which is a very confronting thing to do just days after losing your loved one - and when one of the others that I am referencing couldn’t even refernece our daughters name as our meeting started - we were horrified of how poor the service of care could be.

This is where you and your team shine. After feeling very lost in our search to secure the perfect funeral director to create the perfect day, my wife all of a sudden recalled you standing out the front of your office each morning watering the surrounding gardens to ensure a beautiful front of house. Well, I can assure you, it is not just the front of house that is beautiful - its the entire package that is beautiful.

Your manner, your direction and your expertise is evident from the get go. Nothing is too hard for you or your amazing team. The personal care made us feel like we were the only funeral you were working with at the time, and that’s exactly how it should be.

The finer detail, such as driving past our house so our daughter could go past our house one last time, then leaving the most beautiful flowers on our doorstep, to bumping into us at the Church because you were just doing your own research to make sure the day was seamless. This combined with your recommendations from every aspect as everything was very foreign to us, you were able to guide us to achieve the most beautiful farewell.

The day itself was simply perfect. Not once did we have a concern. The car was shining, your team dressed beautifully, cold water provided for us, directions for our guests, directions for us. Everyone commented on how amazing the day was and how incredibly your team were. Seamless is the only word I can use. It doesn’t stop here.

Your personal care and guidance then allowed us a more intimate farewell the following day (we are so grateful for for this recommendation and possibly would have missed this special day if you had suggested it was the best idea). Again, you and your team made us feel like you had nowhere else to be, and no one else to help. Just us. The setting was beautiful, the celebrant (that you arrange and recommend) is a delightful, your team make this day even more special than the last.

This is something we never want to go through again but there will be so many others, that like us, have no idea where to start to look for the right funeral director for their own special day. All I can say is that I hope that they appoint Lady Anne Funerals. We learnt a lot quickly and it is again a business many do not ever consider needing but without question one of the most important businesses to select the right person and the right team.

I welcome any of your future potential clients to contact me if they wish to discuss our experience with the amazing Lady Anne team. We thank you for giving our beautiful baby the most incredible farewell that was exactly how we imagined it, you just made it happen.”

Lee Dowdall

“We wish to thank you for having helped us put together a beautiful farewell for our mother, one which she would have been delighted with.

It was a difficult day and it would have been worse without your synchronised, seamless and consistent presence as well as attention to detail.

We value your candour as the people you are and the very sensitive manner in which you conducted the service.

Thanking you from the bottom of our hearts,

The Pastore Family
Karen has supported my Mum and me through the most difficult week of our lives as we not only planned a funeral, but interred my Dad to his new home. I will be forever grateful to Karen for her ongoing support, guidance, kindness, empathy and friendship over the last week. Karen has now become part of our extended circle of close family friends.
Daughter of the late Sveta Dordevich
Lady Anne Funerals has the compassion, understanding and empathy that many of the larger funeral homes do not possess. My aunts funeral was dignified and classy everything she deserved. I would highly recommend Lady Anne (and have) as they go above and beyond.
Joanne Marks
I am overwhelmed with the feedback on how beautiful it all was from all who attended. You and the other ladies were wonderful, looked so elegant, and made the day so very special for all who loved Paul.
Barbara Sommerville Enright
Karen and her staff treated us with the utmost respect we could not have been in better hands during this difficult time. My mum had organised her funeral with a prepaid funeral plan which she had purchased from Karen almost ten years ago this also made this upsetting time much easier to deal with and she got all the things that she wished for.
Malcolm Ellis
On behalf of my family, I would like to thank Lady Anne Funerals for a beautiful service yesterday for my aunt Dot. All who attended commented on how lovely the service was & the professionalism of all the staff. Thanks again very much for helping making a sad day one of celebration of Dot’s life.
Judith Neville

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