voltaren rapid 50 over counter is augmentin safe in g6pd deficiency medscape oxycodone 5 mg acetaminophen 325mg fluconazole bula anvisa gmp best chapstick dry lips accutane results rosalia de castro citas celebrex generic release buy calcitriol capsules open pro engineer wildfire 4 0 generic patch exelon the socialist party in 1912 mometasone furoato soluzione cutanea in spanish omeprazole pensa 20 mg fass fuel provera 10 mg precious metal prices minocycline 50 mg rosacea forum medicamento piroxicam gel over the counter doxycycline 100 mg discount card metronidazole 100mg for cats over the counter clavulin 400 generico de crestor para que sirve el buspirone 5 mg dolo specifico e generico do viagra rocephin nombre generico de synthroid do you need a prescription for xenical in canada ipratropium nasal spray uk naltrexone buy ukrainian diflucan 150 mg for skin yeast infection 9 ml amoxicillin generic name of zocor when will viagra go generic in usa flagyl 400 is it easily available in usa in target steven fowkes piracetam buy cheap accutane from mexico generic viagra soft tab meclizine for dogs 25 mg doxepin 10 mg ulotka carrefour buy prilosec side effects of paxil 30 mg price flomax 0.4 mg power bank sony 3800mah lithium zocor 40 mg bijsluiter meloxicam doxycycline malaria tablets price in euros smashed potatoes ingredients in benadryl kelly s bake shop ingredients in aleve voltaren 25 mg packungsbeilage amitriptyline in renal failure naproxen 500 mg for tendonitis para que es el losartan 100 mg side effects of prozac in chilren viagra beste wirkung best time to take my simvastatin actos que se realizan en un circo kamagra gold in south africa 50 mg zoloft high plavix tab 75 mg said effects cramps beecham cold and flu ingredients in benadryl warak enab ingredients in aleve buy green tea without caffeine para que sirve el dantoinal 100 mg gabapentin how to withdraw from zoloft safely zoloft 50 mg effetti collaterali hotels in calan forcat menorca para que es sotalol 80 mg tab nebi 2 5 mg lexapro real cialis packaging beloc zok 25 mg yorum hilesi benadryl peds dose mg kg lexapro 10 mg ingredients euthyrox 50 mg levothyroxine sodium side lincomycin 300 mg pediatricosteopathyofmarin cara sukses merintis usaha dari nolvadex indapamide whartisthebestin for sale ingredients in aleve tablets ranitidine ratiopharm 300 mg beipackzettel citalopram viagra alternatives in shops uk cialis new zealand sample mesalamine canada pharmacy levofloxacino 500 mg prescribed panadol cold flu buy metronidazole baownbeuv cost what rate should you hang zithromax 500 mg tegretol 200 mg prix fluoxetine use in fibromyalgia nimodipine in saha diovan hct brand name type token generics for viagra como se usa provera permethrin effects on mosquitoes in california brand name versus generic synthroid trazodone 50 mg ingredients viagra causa espinhas over the counter equivalent to neurontin average cost accutane per month how many ml of benadryl for a baby albendazole 200 mg dosis recomendadas cipralex ou generico do viagra azithromycin for sale ukay zoloft in der schwangerschafts haloperidol dose in chorea disease clindamycin 300 mg prospect use of ibuprofen in cats bepsar 25 mg promethazine doxycycline treatment recurrent corneal erosion review mahmureala aspirin a efervescente where to buy cheap xenical from ivermectin for sale uk cost of herbal viagra in delhi augmentin mgkg dose sandoz bisoprolol fumarate tablets best fenofibrate 160 prices price zovirax barefoot proctozone generic for lipitor feldene for sale kansas city 100mg lasix and morphine in pulmonary edema safe viagra made india tricor 145 mg coupons market name of ondansetron in asia price of generic olanzapine from walmart telmisartan ratiopharm 40 mg ára vasotec services canada cheap levitra sale online flutamide for hirsutism reviews fluoxetine hcl 10 mg for pmdd disorder cleocin 500 mg safety lexapro during pregnancy company chabad uk london levitra lisinopril 10 mg equivalent to aprovel ems generico viagra metronidazole cream in pakistan 500 mg. generic naproxen serve zyprexa 10 mg metoprolol 25 mg and pregnancy silagra lowest price valsartan 160 mg teva sandals french reciprocal verbs in passe compose diovan hct generic reviews on allopurinol 300 mg ratiopharm butrans patch inactive ingredients in aleve antidepressant wellbutrin sr generic viagrara wine australia cefdinir in juice do you need a prescription to buy phenergan brands of alendronate sodium simvastatin mg benadryl itch stopping cream review co candesartan brand simvastatin 80 mg stroke cheapest vardenafil hci 20mg keppra generic launch crestor 2 5 mg extended battery canon zr45mc camcorder lithium melbourne how to buy viagra informacion en espanol lexapro generic name how long does evista stay in your system levitra seriös kaufen furosemide 20 mg tablet para que sirve quitting prozac 20 mg comprar cialis palmas order clomid off the internet lipitor de 400 mg cialis generika mit paypal where to buy permethrin nz legal buy generic cialis online kamagra soft tabs review elavil sleep reviews irbesartan 150 mg nebenwirkungen tetanusimpfung 25 mg tab meclizine hcl allegra marketing marmora prednisolone tabletten 20 mg nebenwirkungen viagra omeprazole cost target eye does biaxin leave a bad taste in mouth how much it costs for one deltasone oral asda pharmacy cialis cost nitroglycerin stability in syringe clindamycin phosphate reviews local viagra dealers in pune sarcoptic mange in dogs ivermectin for dogs personnages celebrex francophones in louisiana propecia finasteride australia lipitor otc uk did generic singulair become available miglior sito per comprare viagra generico frumil tablets 40 mg lisinopril onde comprar produtos irbesartan average cost flagyl maagsapresistente tabletten nexium generic name metronidazole is safe for pregnancy claversal 500 mg bijsluiter viagra generic zovirax 800 mg ivermectin for poultry for sale tacrolimus 0 03 pomada onde comprar produtos zoloft 50 mg weight loss hytrin chemistry lab clopidogrel 75 mg r 1962 cialis 40 mg online australia transit viagra kopen in breda liquid acai berry diet tadalafil made india safe amoxicillin generic brands what age is benadryl safe side effects of ibuprofen 400 mg generic singulair hit market generic topamax us sominex uk boots online benicar buy no prescription glucophage in polycystic ovary can you buy cialis in playa del carmen how to buy arimidex online marstons oyster stout ingredients in aleve wrestlers hamburgers ingredients in aleve nehmt ihr viagra for sale amlodipine benazepril cheap brand pills viagra best natural viagra discovered tender vittles ingredients in aleve what are the side effects of pantoprazole 40 mg omeprazole 40 mg en espanol buy mupirocin cream uk logo organic chemistry lab 8 aspirin mask cetirizine 10 mg tablet dosage can clozapine prescriptions have refills prix cytotec 200 mg avapro best time to take gabapentin 100 mg capsule effects purchase norvasc whartisthebestin clomid 50 mg when do you ovulate 600 mg ibuprofen ukulele doxylamine succinate india clint 10 mg prednisone ibuprofen 400 mg htp huismerk deutsch fenofibrate as 267 mg really tired lexapro 100 mg benadryl and alcohol cialis 10mg walgreens price cialis viagra levitra kaufen retin a micro generic form of prozac hydroxyzine pamoate 25 mg cap pharmalive generics for lipitor animed remission ingredients in aleve refresh optive inactive ingredients in ibuprofen macrobid antibiotic safe for pregnancy aricept 5 mg reviews liquid benadryl for cats benazepril 10 20 mg dosis ibuprofen syrup brand prednisone use in dogs doses best way to lose weight on synthroid still exhausted combivent aerosol 10 ml generic for tricor medicine generic baclofen autark miele usa dapoxetine 30 mg benefits robaxin 500 mg muscle relaxant cardyl 40 mg of prozac aldactone 25 mg 20 tablet from india shop differin gel cost topiramate in alcohol withdrawal can you break synthroid in half merck generic finasteride argentina medication fexofenadine hcl 60 mg ta liquid nolvadex during cycle mirtazapine 7 5 mg vs 15w40 acai berry juice price in mercury drug website para sirve ciprofloxacina bcn 500 mg cipro in inverno dexamethasone used in ivf nimodipine safe doses fosamax plus price in malaysia nikon benzac crema prezzo london clopidogrel in the treatment of stroke can cialis be cut in half like viagra dose of acyclovir in renal impairment dosing phexin 500 mg to grams fluoxetina cinfa 20 mg prozac for pmdd what is safer than ibuprofen ibuprofen in breast feeding best time to take imitrex clomid in early pregnancy como se usa cytotec nasonex generic otc flonase elavil over counter drug 100 mg aspirin tablets formulation generic singulair for allergies buy generic finasteride in canada warfarin use in elderly with afib voltaren zonnebank kamagra google uk purchase generic valtrex conjugated oestrogens and norgestrel tablets at walmart buy single dose of zithromax powder strattera prix france mebendazole 100mg liquido pre allegra saving papers in breast j aspirin 300 mg and myocardial infarction generic for pentasa medication ingredients is fluconazole safe during lactation nexium mups 80 mg orlistat price in bangladesh take metformin in am or pm adapalene reviews wrinkles folic acid in pregnancy dose zofran is it safe to take midol and ibuprofen cymbalta off brand allopurinol 100 mg qd riksbyggen buspar log ga in seb letrozole fertility statistics in the us bisoprolol cost uk passport furosemide generic substitutions tamsulosin in bph ppt macrobid antibiotic generic name cilostazol 100 mg pretentious myra e 400 iu ingredients in aleve zantac for infants reviews for horrible bosses modelsim force generic cymbalta microbe blast ingredients in benadryl keppra generic medication azithromycin 100 mg drops iv benadryl pills vs liquid carvedilol 6 25 mg tab teva onde comprar cytotec no rio de janeiro 250 mg terbinafine para que sirve la terazosin 5 mg abba generico augmentin suspension bactroban sale p kulit buat jamur tahunan differin como usarlo en levitra cost per pill aetna nexomist generic cialis meloxicam bestellen preis viagra in deutschland cipro 500 mg antibiyotik fiyat? priligy generico onde comprar chia tamoxifen inducible cre jax counter does synthroid and generic lexapro cause night sweats prednisone 25 mg alcohol titrate metformin dose in dogs verdun 50 mg benadryl can you buy viagra at the supermarket 40 mg of cialis taken amiodarone dose in elderly letra renova me art in louvores discount tadalafil 20mg 1.00 per pill free shipping nucerity rejuvenating barrier ingredients in benadryl generic wellbutrin 150 mg xl teva brand 20 mg of doxycycline for acne baclofen 10 mg compared to flexeril taking 2 600 mg ibuprofen overdose sildenafil generic us atorvastatin side effects tingling in legs priligy 60 mg türkiye what is the equivalent of plavix in nigeria can i buy viagra over the counter in chiang mai generic drug keflex order azithromycin buy prozac online buy fluoxetine omeprazole 40 mg vial price generic rx for lipitor levaquin dosage in dogs methocarbamol 500 mg with gabapentin 300mg for dogs buy azithromycin zithromax is voltaren safe to snort can i buy metformina in usa misoprostol y mifepristona como se usa viagra in india ranbaxy pharmaceuticals is a prescription needed for viagra in germany buy lasix online propecia generico prezzo offers augmentin 750 mg dosage gripe water for newborns ingredients in aleve cyclophosphamide 500 mg vial fotheringham viagra soft generic ventolin over the counter uk asda promactil ingredients in aleve linezolid tablets ingredients in diet crestor and blood in urine houses for sale in brookwood park artane var 25 mg promethazine altace romana comprar casa lomudal spray nasale principio attivo aspirin atrovent inhaler uk athletics aspirin 300 mg suppository during pregnancy is depo provera shot safe prednisone overdose mg azithromycin mixed in juice cialis out of pocket cost norcolut 5 mg tabletta norvasc valtrex market buy tranexamic acid mouthwash tamoxifen citrate manufacturer india ciprofloxacin 500 mg dosis jewelers viagra off patent in canada generic for avalide 300mg 25mg ephedrine snowboards canada cheap viagra ciprofloxacin 5 mg rabeprazole sod dr tabs 20 mg melatonin where to find cialis in vietnam cheap viagra 120mg online game generic benicar hct 20 12.5 mg aspirin history chemistry viagra 100 reviews isotretinoina generico peru tc 99 number of neutrons in lithium purchase sertraline cheap fda approved generic medications cymbalta calan porter bars restaurants in glendale piracetam obat buat apa susah aerius 0 5 mg posologie metronidazole rivastigmine discovery prozac se comprar sin receta medication dose for diflucan liquid costo pastilla provera what happens if i take 300 mg viagra budesonide vs prednisone in dogs socialism today in america generic drug name for lasix substitute of singulair medicine in india lithium ion capacitor buyers priligy originale o generico dexamethasone side effects in iontophoresis piroxicam trade name india does 2.5 mg levitra do anything tetracycline 500 mg kao lek i terapija comprar clomid espa?a diflucan tablets ireland parole aty an tany levitra prices levothyroxine information in spanish what is the best time of day to take celexa weight gain with zoloft in women counteract grogginess of mirtazapine haldol forest os map online januvia 50 mg coupons when is the best time to take cozaar nexium pill counting tray in downtown does prozac really work for bulimia is priligy available over the counter is lexapro and suboxone safe together estradiol 31 pg mlk ciprofloxacin cipro price list cheapest clomid uk tl519 ingredients in aleve wellbutrin xl 300 mg cost price list for doxycycline and ciprofloxan januvia prices at walmart buy misoprostol mifepristone online se usa cytotec abortivo prednisone hexal 20mg 50 mg zoloft naltrexone brands wht miligrams should you take in cialis liquid viagra for sale ukay amoxicillin break in half sinemet medication reviews thailand buy viagra doxylamine succinate 25 mg and warfarin dosing liquid benadryl for dogs doxycycline 100mg capsules walmart exelon 6 mg kapsül allegra club dubai location in relation free metformin walmart are lamisil tablets available over the counter best acai bowls san francisco brand name of ibuprofen in the philippines latisse eyelash growth ingredients in aleve mallinckrodt hydrocodone reviews viagra 50 mg or 100 indications for dialysis in lithium toxicity and sodium promethazine codeine purple cough syrup for sale celecoxib safety loratadine 10 mg tab dosage index canadian imitrex order online how long to see side effects of metronidazole in dogs acai dieters cleanse reviews atenolol 50 mg superdosagem prolib requip generic about time aux ingredients in aleve joseph c allegra papers l green in cancer res from 1979 what is the best way to take propecia synthroid in the evening dose of cefixime in typhoid fever cipro 500 mg zararlari side effects of metronidazole suspension in cats amitriptyline in mexico can i take 81 mg aspirin with ibuprofen priligy 30 mg x 3 ventolin inhaler price philippines hydroxyzine hcl generic 50 mg tablet 500 count queen citalopram 40 mg tab dr reddys centyl 2 5 mg bivirkninger av zoloft bernardino provera papers about affect in res policy risperidone 0.5 mg ocd actonel prices krb5krb err generic cymbalta viagra price victoria trazodone sleep disorders perangsang viagra usa dilantin for sale casodex cost in usa how much does prescription valtrex cost losartan 50 mg via oral zovanta 40 mgs of celexa is 100 mg viagra more effective than 50 mg prednisone show up in a drug test generic for singulair medicine biquelle xl 50 mg benadryl false negative ovulation test clomid for sale panadol brand name



Related Articles
« MO »
About the Author
Loretta M. Alirangues (formerly Accardo) is the editor of Nox, A Journal of the Night. Nox was a print zine from April 1993 through Oct. 1996 (7 issues). It was resurrected as an e-zine in late 1999. The Funerary Practices series appeared in print (issues 1-4, and 6). Loretta and her husband, Paul, live in North Central New Jersey with their two cats, Smokey and Misty. For news and updates for the online version of Nox, please join the Nox e-list at Yahoogroups. Loretta can be contacted by e-mail.
« MO »

Ill | Kit McAllister


Funerary Practices in Early and Modern America
Loretta M. Alirangues
The early American colonists believed that “the grave was familiar as the cradle,” and accepted death as natural and inevitable.
In Dutch New Amsterdam, “inviters” were hired to go door to door to inform friends and relatives that a loved one had passed on, and to invite them to the funeral. In Pennsylvania, these people were called “warners.” Along with the invitation, they delivered a bottle of wine, a pair of gloves and two “dead-cakes.” These cakes were actually large cookies that were not eaten but kept as a memento of the person who had died.
Southern funerals were major social events in the nineteenth century. Because plantations were so spread out, in the event of a death, the family contacted four friends, each of them contacted four friends, and so on. When the guests arrived, they were served cake and hot West Indian rum punch. After the funeral service, the mourners followed the coffin to the place of burial with sometimes as many as 500 people on horseback.
In the early to mid-nineteenth century, coffins were usually made of poplar, mahogany, walnut or cherry. They were lined with muslin and had no padding or handles. The pall was the cloth that was laid over the coffin. It was usually black and had fringes. A white pall was used for children and for women who had died in childbirth. By the late nineteenth century, coffins were being made out of all kinds of materials. Patents had been issued for experimental coffins made of iron, potter’s clay, glass, vulcanized rubber, aluminum, and papier maché.
In the earliest colonial days, a body was carried to its final resting place on a frame of planks. Later, an open sleigh or wagon would serve as a hearse. The first real hearse carriages that were developed were painted black for adults and white for children. The chassis was plain, but there were usually ornaments such as urns or wooden torches with eternal flames on top. The windows did not contain glass but were just left open. Hearses became more elaborate during the next decades. By the late nineteenth century, coinciding with the Victorian Age in Britain, they were much larger, had fancy gilded carvings, and plate glass windows with draperies inside. By the early twentieth century automobile hearses were used.
Receptions were held after a burial in the home of the deceased, and often they became very spirited parties. All kinds of delicious foods were served, barrels of wine were drunk, and pounds of tobacco were smoked. Often, the cost of the feast was the largest expense of the entire funeral. Typically gifts such as handkerchiefs and gloves were given to all the mourners, but this custom was abandoned by the late eighteenth century because the expense was overwhelming. It was customary to give one or two silver spoons to a neighbor or relative who had nursed the deceased during their last days. These were referred to as “coffin spoons” and were then put to practical use by being hung on the post of a cradle for an infant to teeth on.
Mourning etiquette was not given much consideration by the early colonists, but with the Victorian era came many customs. Proper mourning clothing was essential. Men wore flowing black cloaks, white scarves and gloves. Widows were expected to grieve for two years and wore solid black clothing with no trim except crepe collars and cuffs. They also wore bonnets with a long, thick, black crepe veil. During the second year of mourning, the veil was shortened and white or violet flowers were added to the bonnet. The garments were allowed to be trimmed with gray, violet or white. Children in mourning wore white in summer and gray in winter. Special mourning jewelry was common in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Gold lockets were worn by both men and women. They contained tiny black and white mourning pictures showing figures weeping over tombs beneath willow trees, or they contained a likeness of the deceased. Rings with typical mourning scenes on them, beads made of jet and worn in strings as necklaces or bracelets, were also common.
Memorials were very popular in the nineteenth century. These took several forms. Wreaths and jewelry were created from the hair of the deceased by weaving it over fine wire. Having a portrait painted of the family, which included the deceased in his or her coffin, was also popular. These portraits became photographic upon the creation of cameras. Mourning pictures were another popular custom. These scenes were similar to those painted on lockets, but on a larger scale. They were paintings, drawings, lithographs and embroidered hangings that showed family members by the grave or tomb of the deceased, often in beautiful surroundings. Sometimes favorite pets were added to these scenes.
American cemeteries have changed considerably since colonial days. They began as simple churchyards or small family plots on farms. When large cities began developing, large tracts of land were set aside outside the cities to be used as cemeteries. Elaborate family tombs that held many coffins began to be built. In the south, most notably in New Orleans, above-ground tombs were necessary because of the low water table. In many cemeteries, cement enclosures similar to gates, surrounded a single grave. Iron fences, stone walls, brick walls, and hedges surrounded small family plots.
Grave markers were also simple in the early days. Sometimes just a pile of stones was used. Usually a small boulder was crudely carved by a family member, with the deceased’s name and date of death. When commercial stonecutters began offering their services, they often used slate because it is soft and easy to work with. The headstones became more elaborate and had different types of symbols were carved on them. Skeletons, winged hourglasses, and shattered urns were more gruesome symbols of death that later gave way to symbols such as cherubs, wreaths, and weeping willows. Very often an occupational symbol, an emblem from a fraternal organization, or a portrait of the deceased was used. Many different types of epitaphs were also carved on the headstone. They took the forms of short prayers, beautiful odes written by a loved one, biographies, or humorous rhymes.
In the nineteenth century, American funerals were intensely gloomy and distressing for the bereaved. As a result, there emerged a desire to provide a beautiful setting to experience grief, and that eventually lead to the development of park-like cemeteries. During this period, grave markers became even more ornate and emulated those of the Victorians.
American undertaking began to evolve when certain community members became expert at “laying out” the dead after having done it several times. These people then felt it was their responsibility to help fellow neighbors out and offer their services when a family member died. By the late eighteenth century, undertaking had become a specialty in large cities and with it came bureaucratic elements that led to the impersonal handling of funerals.
Undertakers were immediately called upon someone’s death, and generally came to the home to direct the funeral and carry out the embalming. Liquid tints had been developed by the embalming fluid companies and attempts were made to restore the faces of the dead. A crepe badge was hung on the front door, and by the end of the nineteenth century it was replaced by a basket of flowers. Religious services were held at the home or in the church, and then concluded with a procession to the cemetery. During the procession, the undertaker removed all signs of the funeral from the house so that the family had no further tasks to bear.
Because of a growing need for more funeral equipment, funeral establishments with large rooms appeared in cities, while barns and the back room of the undertakers’ stores were used in rural areas. Since this replaced the home parlor, these establishments became known as funeral parlors. The undertaker supplied the casket, carriages, memorial cards, flowers, chairs, robes, pillows and crucifixes. Embalming became more sophisticated and required more equipment that needed a special laboratory. Needing all these different rooms is what led to the development of present-day facilities.
Modern funeral customs in the U.S. vary due to geographic region, ethnic background, religious affiliation, and economic and social class. Depending on where, how, and when death occurs, it is common to notify a physician or the police. Then, the cause of death is certified by a physician, coroner, or medical examiner. After the family chooses a funeral director, the director removes the body to the funeral home where it is embalmed, or if it will be cremated, it is sanitized. On rare occasions, a body is cryogenically suspended. (See sidebars for full descriptions of embalming, cremation, and cryonics.) The family must make other decisions such as: the time and location of the funeral service, whether to publicize it, who will give the eulogy if one is to be said, and the place of burial or cremation. Garments must also be chosen and should be something the deceased enjoyed wearing in life. Unfortunately, many funeral directors persuade the family to purchase clothing from him, and they choose something the deceased wouldn’t have been caught dead in! (Sorry for the pun.)
The family must also choose a casket. The word “casket” originally meant jewel-box, and a jewel-box holds something precious. There is a difference between a casket and coffin. Coffins are six-sided, and are rarely used in the U.S. today. Caskets are rectangular in shape and are usually made of thin metal or a hard wood such as oak or mahogany. They are also available made from simple plywood or pine, or can be made of fiberglass, stainless steel, copper or bronze. Beware of the most popular type – the thin metal casket. These are so-called “sealer” caskets with a rubber gasket around the edges that is supposed to seal out air and water. They are not leak-proof as the funeral director will claim.
Viewing the dead body is widespread in the U.S., occurs in all social class levels, and is almost always done at the funeral home. Black clothing does not necessarily need to be worn (although I know most of you reading this wear black all the time!). However, guests should wear something modest and with a neat appearance. There is a guest book just inside the door of each funeral chapel, and guests are encouraged to sign it. In front of the casket is a kneeler upon which visitors may stop and say a prayer while looking at the deceased. Depending on the religion of the deceased, there may be a pedestal near the casket upon which are prayer cards. These cards have a religious picture on one side, and a prayer, the name of the deceased, and date of death on the reverse. In some cases, the funeral director will pass out these cards to the guests. Flowers are commonly sent by friends and relatives to the funeral home and later transported to the grave site. Many families now prefer a donation be made to a favorite charity in lieu of sending flowers. Also varying according to religious practices is the custom of bringing a mass card to give to the family. These cards state that a mass will be said in honor of the deceased by whatever church or organization the card has been purchased from.
Before the casket is sealed, jewelry should be removed from the corpse so it can be passed down to future generations. It is at this time that family members may place items inside the casket that they wish the deceased to be buried with. They can include a favorite book of the deceased, a handwritten poem, or a child’s drawing. A wake usually lasts for two nights, with the funeral being held on the third day. If religious funeral services are being held, there is a short service at the funeral home on the last night of the wake, and then a full service at the church the next day.
With few exceptions, there is little active participation other than attendance by family and friends at the funeral. This is a uniquely American custom, whereas the family fully participates in other countries. One of the few ways in which Americans do participate in a funeral is if family members or friends are pallbearers. The casket is transported to the cemetery by the funeral director in a hearse, and the immediate family is often transported in a limousine with other family members and friends following behind in their cars with their headlights on. At the cemetery there are a few religious committal rites, and the family leaves with the casket still above ground. I have read though, that the reason the family doesn’t witness the actual interment is that the cemetery personnel don’t want them to. Occasionally, the casket is dropped, stood upon, and even broken while being lowered into the grave. Have a family member remain behind to watch the interment! After the funeral, the family usually has a reception at home for the guests.
Modern cemeteries are operated by the government, by churches, or by private corporations. They may be classified as perpetual care or non-perpetual care. In perpetual care cemeteries, a certain percentage of the payment for each plot is set aside in an endowment fund. The fund itself remains intact, but the accrued interest is used for maintenance and improvement of the cemetery. A non-perpetual care cemetery has no endowment fund and assesses lot owners for cemetery maintenance and improvement.
Most cemeteries are laid out in rows of burial plots for earth interment. Some permit the erection of large family monuments. However, in so-called park cemeteries, only grave markers that are flush with the ground may be installed. This practice is becoming more and more common, and I know many of us mourn the demise of elaborate monuments. Modern tombstones are usually made of granite and carved by mechanical means. They rarely include more than the name and dates of the deceased.
Many cemeteries now have facilities for burial either in-ground, or burial above-ground in a mausoleum, and have a crematory as well as a columbarium where cremated remains may be placed. A number of cemeteries have become wildlife preserves, and some have installed jogging and biking paths, and picnic areas.
There are approximately 15,000 funeral homes in the United States today, and operating one can be a lucrative business. Only 30-50 years ago, most Americans died in their homes surrounded by family members, and funerals were community events. Now more people die in institutions instead of in their own homes, and funeral directors take charge of the entire funeral. Americans have lost the desire to be active participants in funerals so we have very little exposure to the dead. I think that if we were to witness the peaceful death of a loved one and play a larger role in their funeral proceedings, Americans would be less afraid of death and more at peace with themselves.
Resources
American Academic Encyclopedia
The Bedside Book of Death, Robert Wilkins, 1990, Citadel Press, NY
Death in Early America, Margaret M. Coffin, 1976, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN and New York, NY
Embalming: History, Theory, and Practice, 1990, Appelton & Lange, E. Norwalk, CT
The Funeral Book, Clarence W. Miller, 1994, Robert D. Read Publishers, San Francisco, CA
Grief and Mourning in Cross-Cultural Perspective; Paul C. Rosenblatt, R. Patricia Walsh, Douglas A. Jackson; 1976, Human Relations Area Files Press