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What Happens at a Burial Service?

After the funeral service, whether this is at a church, crematorium, or other venue, if you have opted for a burial for the deceased, you might be wondering what to expect. See our guide to what happens during the day of the funeral to find out more about what to expect before this takes place, or read on to understand the burial process.

What happens at a burial?

When the main service has ended, the priest or celebrant who conducted the service will usually guide those who attended outside, following the pallbearers and the coffin to the graveside. At the side of the grave, if there is space, there might be seats for the closest family members of the deceased; otherwise people will congregate while standing.

What is a committal service?

At the grave side, the priest or celebrant will usually say a few words, possibly including a prayer or biblical reading; this is known as a committal service. After the reading, family members might be invited to say a few words, and then traditionally these same people will scatter the first handfuls of soil on top of the coffin.

The lowering of the coffin

Next, the coffin will be lowered into the ground, and other attendees will be invited to place flowers or tributes at the graveside. Family and friends then pay their final respects, before leaving to make their way to the reception or wake if there is one.

What happens after a burial?

After the day of the funeral, most burial grounds stay open continuously – enabling visitors to see the grave of their loved one at any time. Some might be locked during the night, so you will need to find out the opening times from the groundskeeper or priest.

Can you be buried if you are not religious?

Yes, while traditionally graveyards are associated with churches, and at one time you had to be baptised to be buried, today this is not the case. Most cemeteries are non-denominational, meaning anyone can be buried there. As well as this, more and more people are opting for ‘green funerals’, at which the deceased is buried in a biodegradable coffin in a meadow or woodland. In this instance, the deceased will not usually have a headstone.

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What Happens at a Burial Service?

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A Few Kind Words...

To Lisa and all at Greenwood’s
Thank you for all the care and professionalism you have shown whilst caring for my Dad.
Thanks also for being so wonderful whilst looking after Diane and me, we are so grateful,
you took the pressure away from us during a very stressful time.

Sally and Diane

“Lynn, Bruce and I thank you so much for the wonderful understanding and help you have given us over the past days.It has been a difficult time but made so much easier by your guidance. With your kindness, we feel we managed to say our goodbyes to ‘Roger’, ‘Dad’ and ‘Grandy’ – showing our love and thanks to him for looking after us so perfectly over the years.”

Pat Clark

“Dear David and Hannah,
Just a quick note to say thank you so much for all your help and support over the last month or so.
The funeral was just as it should have been.
Your staff were lovely and the day went without a hitch.”

Michele & Caroline

“Thank you so much for the way you took care of Loui’s funeral for us. You really went the extra mile, we are really grateful for all your help with the arrangements with Louis and Mum.”

Sheila, Kenny & Family

“Thank you so much for the care you took of mum and help and kindness you showed us making a very sad time so much easier to bear. With very best wishes and a very big thank you.”

Claire, David & Pia Stevens

“Dear John,

Thank you for the wonderful service, support and help you offered me and the way you looked after my partner Bob, after he passed away.

From the professionalism and courtesy your team showed on that most traumatic moment – taking Bob from our house – to your kindness, and surefooted advice, the recommendation of the Celebrant, and then your kindness in coming to the cremation as well.

It’s been the hardest month or so of my life and yet I was so pleased with how the service went, the wonderful order of service you arranged and helped me with and of course the music as well. Throughout it all you treated me with respect, dignity and gave me such helpful advice. I’m not sure I would have managed well without that. Even more, I can now look back and reflect that the day went well and represented my partner and our love so well.

I think it’s important to thank people when they have done such a great job.”

Douglas

“Thank you so much for the care, support, compassion and understanding you showed with helping Chris and us to plan his funeral. You made a very difficult time for us more bearable for which we are very grateful. Thank you also for enabling all Chris’s plans to come to fruition. His ‘send-off’ was exactly what he wanted. Malcolm did a brilliant job too. Thank you, Jane, With love and sincere, thank you.”

Kathy, Samantha, Rosie and all the Sayer Family

“Dear Fran

I just wanted to drop you an email to thank you for all your care and support in the arrangements for my dad, John.

I know that my Mum, Valerie, was most grateful for your support and care, particularly last Friday which was a difficult day for her. Mum said to me that you went over and above in her eyes, making sure she was ok before you would let her leave.

Dad would have highly approved of the day yesterday, and that’s all we could have asked for. It really was the celebration of his life that he would have wanted.

Again, my sincerest thanks and gratitude to you all.”

Helena

“Thank you for all your kind attention during the funeral of my husband John on the 24th May. The arrangements were so efficiently and sympathetically handled that it lifted a huge burden from my shoulders. I enclose a cheque in favour of the Alzheimer’s Society in memory of my beloved John.”

Catherine Waterman

Dear Chloe,

We just wanted to all thank you and the rest of Alan Greenwood team for providing excellent service for organising and conducting our mother’s funeral – The day went perfectly.

Mike

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