Just like Baptisms and Weddings, Funerals are in integral part of the Christian Orthodox life. Orthodoxy regards death as the separation of the soul from the body. The soul first undergoes partial judgment, where behavior and character during life determine the final resting place, Heaven or Hell. After Jesus Christ returns to the earth and His kingdom is established, the final judgment will occur. Even though the Orthodox Church funeral service is considered a crucial process of prayer for the deceased’ soul.
While there are a number of variations, the Orthodox funeral generally consists of three Services. The first is the vigil service, or the Trisagion, which is usually performed at the church the night before the funeral day and on anniversaries of the person’s death. In the service, the prayers entreat God to grant rest to the departed soul so that it may receive mercy. The name of the service, “Trisagion,” comes from the repetition three times of the opening phrase of the service, “Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy and Immortal, have mercy on us.” The service also includes this liturgy, asking Christ to “give rest with the Saints to the soul of Your servant where there is neither pain, grief, nor sighing but life everlasting.”
The Funeral Service is continued at the Church, where the body is brought on the day of burial. The Divine Liturgy may be celebrated. After the funeral service, members of the congregation offer their farewell to the deceased. The Trisagion Service is repeated at the graveside. Following the funeral service, the mourners share a meal to celebrate the life of the one who died. The meal is a chance for the relatives and friends to remember their loved one in an informal setting.
Funerals also fill an important role for those mourning the loss of a loved one. By providing surviving family and friends with an atmosphere of care and support, a funeral service is often the first step in the healing process where one can show their respect for their loved one while grieving and acknowledging their transition from this earth to unity with God.