Greek Orthodox Funeral Services in Sydney
While losing a loved one is a difficult and painful period in anyone’s life, the Greek Orthodox Church members take comfort that death isn’t the end and life is everlasting. The Greek Orthodox faith teaches its flock that the soul after death is reunited with the body and with Christ and so there is no death but rather our loved ones have only “fallen asleep” and have been given everlasting life. This comforting belief should provide hope and peace amongst Greek Orthodox Christians as they can continue to pray for the souls of their reposed family members and hope for their eventual reunion in the eternal life.
When someone passes away, the Greek Orthodox Funeral customs and traditions are an important part of the spiritual and emotional journey after their death. Orthodox Funerals has over 30 years experience guiding Greek Orthodox and all Eastern Orthodox families during this sacred and pious time.
What to do When a Death Occurs
When a loved one passes away, a priest should be called immediately to lead prayers over the deceased’s body for the release of the soul (Trisagion). A close relative should also call Orthodox Funeral Services on 1300 211 700 as soon as possible to collect and care for the deceased person.
Following Eastern Orthodox practices the body needs to be prepared for the Church service, which means bathing and clothing the body immediately after death. The Orthodox Funerals mortuary attendant will take the utmost care for the deceased and once the body has been prepared, a priest will lead a prayer service called the Panikhida. This marks the beginning of a three day wake. During this process, the Book of Psalms is recited by family and friends.
The caring and experienced funeral directors and staff at Orthodox funerals will coordinate all the funeral, Church and burial service details with the priest and cemetery and will make sure all your wishes are fulfilled.
Orthodox Funeral Expectations
It is an expectation that all those people present at an Orthodox Funeral Service should stand throughout, except if they are elderly, disabled or have difficulty standing.
Eastern Orthodox Churches expect those that attend a Church funeral service to dress modestly when entering the Church. Covering your arms and legs is highly recommended when attending the service at a Greek Orthodox Church. Although not required by the church, it is customary for most people when they attend a Greek Orthodox Funeral to clothe themselves in black or dark coloured clothing, with a black shirt, suit jacket and pants for men and a black dress or blouse and skirt for women.
When the Greek Orthodox funeral service is concluded in the Church usually you will have the opportunity to greet the family and offer your condolences and prayers. Mourners will also be encouraged to approach the casket after the service to say goodbye. You may choose to kiss the icon or cross in the coffin.
After this, the burial usually follows in the cemetery upon which luncheon (Makaria) is usually served.
Greek Orthodox Funeral Rituals and Traditions
A Trisagion prayer service is performed by a priest usually immediately after death or the night before the funeral at the wake. It can also occur at the graveside burial and on memorial days which are set by the church.
A wake is a customary part of a Greek Orthodox funeral and is held the night before a funeral. Family and friends can say their goodbyes in private and pray together with the priest.
The Greek Orthodox Church Funeral Service includes hymns, prayers, readings from the bible and anointing. The priest will offer a sermon about the deceased and close the casket after everyone pays their respects to the deceased and their loved ones and the priest completes the Trisagion prayer.
The final order of service is a graveside service where the deceased is laid to rest in the cemetery. The priest recites the Trisagion service again followed by hymns and a blessing when the casket is lowered into the grave.
Following the burial, all attendees to the funeral are invited to a luncheon where they can offer support and condolences to one another.
Mourning and Grief
After the funeral Greek Orthodox families usually take a week off work to spend time supporting each other and light candles, incense, attend Liturgy and pray as much as they can for the repose of the soul for their passed loved one. Commemoration services take place a week following the funeral and memorial services are held 40 days and one year after the death of our loved ones. Lots of families host annual memorials for the soul of their deceased family members.
During the 40 days after the funeral, family members will be in mourning, often choosing to wear dark colours and not participating in celebratory events/occasions in order focus on grieving and healing. The 40 day memorial is significant as it represents Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and provides a sense of comfort to families who come together for one another and find a sense peace in the hope to meet again in the eternal life with their passed loved one. While the grieving period continues after this memorial, it slowly turns to healing and keeping alive memories and stories.