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Amish Funeral Traditions, Customs, and Beliefs

The Amish are a unique people with their own distinct culture and traditions. One important aspect of their culture is how they deal with death. Funerals are a very important part of the Amish culture, and there are many customs and traditions that are observed. This article will explore the Amish funeral tradition, customs, and beliefs.

What are Amish funeral traditions, customs, and beliefs?

One of the most notable aspects of Amish life is their adherence to simple traditions and customs. This includes their approach to funerals, which are conducted in a solemn and dignified manner. The Amish believe that funerals should be a time for reflection and remembrance, rather than a celebration of life. As such, they typically refrain from music and other forms of entertainment. Instead, funeral sermons focus on the deceased's relationship with God and their journey to the afterlife. Amish funerals are also notable for their lack of flowers and other adornments. Simple wooden coffins are used, and graves are usually unmarked. This helps to ensure that their soul can begin its journey to the afterlife without delay. While these practices may seem atypical to outsiders, they are an integral part of Amish belief and tradition.

In accordance with their beliefs about simplicity, the Amish practice simple funeral rites when it comes to burying the body. After death, the deceased is generally dressed in plain clothes and placed in an Amish pine casket. Amish pine caskets are made by the community by hand with no padding, handles, or intricate designs.

Do the Amish believe in cremation or embalming?

Cremation and embalming are generally not practiced by the Amish. If the state they live in requires embalming, they will have a body embalmed, but otherwise do not embalm bodies before having them buried in an Amish cemetery. (No state requires embalming for all bodies. This would be just in a rare instance, such as the deceased having had a rare communicable disease of the body being transported across state lines.) Cremation is generally not a method of disposition that the Amish accept, and those who are buried following Amish customs will be buried in a simple pine casket, not cremated.

What should I wear to an Amish funeral?

If you are attending an Amish funeral as a non-Amish person, it is important to dress in a way that is respectful of their customs. Both women and men should wear all black when attending an Amish funeral and should dress in modest, simple clothing.

What happens during an Amish funeral service

When an Amish individual passes away, they are buried exactly three days following their passing. Here is the order of services:

  1. The body is cleansed, dressed, and prepared in simple clothing that has been made by the family. Once prepared, the body is placed in a simple pine casket (also made by the community) for viewing.
  2. Family and friends are invited to the viewing of the body. This is a time of mourning and remembrance and takes place in the house of the decedent. Traditionally, the Amish display the body in a simple pine casket with no other decorations in the room. The viewing takes place for two days.
  3. After the viewing, a service typically takes place within the family's home, a shop, or a barn within the community. Friends, family, and others in the community are invited to attend and pay their respects to the deceased. No flowers or decorations are present at the funeral and no eulogy is read at an Amish funeral service. A minister typically leads the service with prayers, hymns, and a sermon.
  4. Once the service has taken place, the body is buried in the simple pine casket in a family cemetery, with the grave typically being dug by other members of the community.
  5. After the service, those who were close friends of the deceased and other family members return to the family's home for a shared meal.

Amish funerals are simple, respectful, and somber. They are not a time for celebration, and having strong emotional reactions or outbursts during the funeral is generally frowned upon. Instead, the focus is on accepting death as a natural part of life and providing support for those who are grieving.

What kind of food is served at the family's home following the service?

After an Amish funeral, those who were close to the deceased and other family members return to the family's home for a shared meal. The meal is typically a simple affair, with food that has been prepared ahead of time by the community. Common dishes include homemade bread, soup, vegetables (such as Amish funeral potatoes) and Amish funeral pie.

How do the Amish deal with grief and loss after a funeral?

The Amish believe in placing their trust in God and turning to their religion for support when it comes to grieving. The Amish grieving process is one that's handled in private and through their relationship with God. Grief is not something that should be handled or expressed publicly -- instead, the Amish believe in managing the emotional aspect of grieving privately, with a focus on remaining calm in the face of difficulty.

While Amish funeral traditions might be different from what other religious groups practice, they are nonetheless meaningful and help the community mourn and remember their deceased loved ones.

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Last updated November 16, 2022
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