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What Is a Proper Christian Burial?

When a person dies in the Christian faith, a funeral is held in their honour to reflect on life on Earth and celebrate them. If they were privileged to talk to a minister in their last hours, they might discuss burial proceedings. 

Alternatively, the deceased may have prepared a will opting for burial, cremation, or something else. In any case, what is a proper Christian burial?

Burial Proceedings

Usually, a proper Christian burial is held about a week after death. This occurs in the church, other buildings, or the crematorium. The minister in charge of the event welcomes the coffin and pallbearers. 

Then he opens the service by reading out a Bible verse before talking about the life of the deceased. Next, a friend or family member does a personal reading (poem, song, article, or Bible verse) in memory of the dead. 

Prayers are offered, and after this, a time for reflection for about a minute. Next, the priest says commendation, often doubling as a farewell. Finally, the body is lowered into the grave, or curtains close at the crematorium. 

If the burial occurs in a church where friends and family gather around the grave, they may throw dust, mud, or flowers on the coffin. 

In the crematorium, curtains close at the point of committal. The deceased’s ashes are placed in an urn to be scattered later or preserved.

What Does a Christian Burial Look Like?

The traditional dress code is black and formal dressing is allowed in a modern setting or upon the family’s request.

The elements of a burial service are important to Anglican traditions. For example, the Church discusses with the family before the burial service.

Moreover, the Anglican Church support cremation. However, ashes are kept because the Church believes in the bodily resurrection on the last day. 

Catholics believe in purgatory, so a prayer vigil is held for the deceased before burial. Generally, Catholic funerals occur three to seven days after death. Then, a requiem mass may be held, but it’s optional. 

Other denominations hold a similar service as those mentioned above with a few tweaks. Then, a reception follows, which varies according to the deceased’s lifestyle or family. It’s traditional to bring gifts, food, or alcohol (optional). 


A proper Christian burial varies per denomination. Nevertheless, you will find some similarities in the proceedings. The Church may help with some essential details, but most of the work is done by the funeral director.