Every culture has its own way of dealing with death and how to honor the dead. While being cremated and buried are fairly common practices, there are numerous cultures that have a different, even unusual funeral practice. Read on to find out more:
South Korea’s burial beads
In South Korea, a common practice allows you to wear your dead relatives as jewelry. Yes, after cremation, many opt to transform the ashes into beads of various colors like pink, blue-green and black instead of burying them.
Sweden’s late burial
In Sweden there are still some unique funeral rituals which have survived through the ages. One such ritual involves burying or cremating the body only about one to three weeks after death. During these weeks the body is rested in a “special” place.
South Africa’s ash-smeared windows
In South Africa, death and funeral practices are important parts of their culture, and their deceased ancestors are viewed with respect and fear. When someone dies, ash is smeared on the windows of the house where they died, and all the beds are taken out from the room to make space for the mourners. Animal scarification (tattooing) may also occur. And after the funeral, before entering the house again, everyone needs to wash off any dirt they may have gotten from the graveyard. They believe this removes bad luck.
Ghana’s unique coffins
A common funeral practice in Ghana is being buried in unique coffins. They want to be buried in a coffin that represents who they are and what their life was like. So, for instance, if a pilot dies, then his coffin may take the shape of a plane. The whole idea is to customize the coffin, so it speaks about the person's life in the best way possible.
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One of the biggest concerns that people have whose loved ones are cremated is what to do with the ashes. Many often choose to keep them in an urn and place it on the mantelpiece or shelf, while some people choose to scatter them. Cemeteries also allow cremated remains to be buried.
If the deceased had not mentioned before their death where they would like their ashes to be scattered, you can choose to scatter them in any of the following places.
Scattering ashes on private property such as your garden or farm is a common practice. However, in some states, you need to get a permit first before you do so. This is a meaningful practice for many since, in a way, it means that your loved one is always with you, or at a place which mattered to them. ·
Bodies of water like rivers, ocean, as well as lakes and streams, are also popular choices for scattering ashes. If your loved one was a free spirit or someone who was a nature lover, scattering their ashes into such bodies of water would mean that they are finally free to go where the flow takes them.
You can even scatter ashes in national parks, but you will have to get permission from the National Parks Service. With each park, the application form will be different. Make sure that you don’t scatter the ashes on mountain tops, where ecosystems are more fragile. Even though ashes are not harmful, it’s better to scatter them further down over a large area.
If you plan to scatter ashes overseas, for example in a country your loved one adored, make sure to find out what kind of regulations the country has on scattering ashes. Remember to get in touch with the airport and consulate first to ensure which documents are required.
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Flowers are an important part of a funeral, mainly because they hold so much meaning and significance. Based on how you want your loved one to be remembered, to symbolize a certain trait that they were known for, or to express a certain sentiment, you can choose the kind of flowers to be showcased during the funeral ceremony.
Below, we outline the five most popular flowers used in funerals and what they represent.
Lilies, especially white lilies, are perhaps the most common flowers used in funeral services. They represent the innocence and purity that the departed soul receives once they leave their earthly form. It is to be noted that the white stargazer lily specifically represents sympathy.
While white poppies may be a little more difficult to find than red poppies, they do make the perfect funeral flowers. These flowers represent sleep, death and even consolation. They stand for the belief that it is after death that we will get the biggest consolation of everlasting life.
Pink carnations symbolize remembrance and commemoration, while white carnations stand for innocence and love. These meaningful symbolisms make them ideal for funerals – services which are meant for commemorating your loved ones. Plus, carnations work really well with all kinds of flowers and are long-lasting.
In many European countries chrysanthemums symbolize death and are, therefore, used only in funeral services or placed on graves. In many Asian countries the flower represents grief and lamentation. However, in the U.S, they stand for truth, and white chrysanthemums specifically stand for comfort and faith, making them perfect for funeral services.
Another common funeral flower is gladioli. They represent sincerity and strength of character and are available in various colors like pink, white, yellow, orange, red, purple, green and salmon.
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Giving sympathy flowers to those who are mourning the loss of a loved one is a common practice all over the world. They show that you are sorry for their loss, and care about their well-being.
However, flowers may not always be the best choice for a sympathy gift in certain situations. For instance, the sight and smell of flowers may only remind the bereaved of the loved one. In most cases it is highly likely that they will be receiving lots of flowers from others, so it's not a very practical gift.
Below, we provide different and thoughtful alternatives to sympathy flowers you can give to those who are grieving.
1. Candles make great sympathy gifts for those who have lost a loved one. Not only does it help create an atmosphere of calmness and serenity, but it also invites contemplation and reflection. Scented candles can also help them relax and soothe them physically and emotionally. You can even find candles especially made as sympathy gifts with meaningful quotes inscribed on them.
2. Bringing comfort food for those who are mourning is a thoughtful and practical sympathy gift. In the days following the loss, they will have a lot on their plate and may not always have time to cook their food. So, whether you buy them a food box or basket, or cook something on your own. This shows that you truly care for their well-being.
3. The main issue with sympathy flowers is that they are not long-lasting, and hence not very practical. They eventually wilt and die. A good alternative to this is a potted plant, which is much more long-lasting. Succulents are the best choice since they don’t require constant care.
4. Today many people make donations to a cause that was close to the deceased. For example, if the deceased actively supported a certain cause or organization, you can donate to them. Or if they died from a certain disease, you can donate to organizations related to that illness.
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