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Lying in state. Derived from an ancient Hebrew practice that served the functions of a precaution against a premature burial, an act of piety, and an occasion of prayers for the dead.



Provided an opportunity for those who had been present at the death to clear themselves of the suspicion of foul play, and a chance for all interested parties to witness whether an equitable distribution of property had been made.

Hebrew Wake (in the past)


- Occasional horses and carriages were used after the wake to carry the deceased to the church cemetery.
- Most often hand carried and mourners would walk parade fashion from the house to the gravesite with the wooden box on their shoulders. Sometimes a band would play. Since the bodies were not embalmed, most funeral services occurred within 24 hours of the death.

Hebrew funeral (in the past)


The deceased was laid out at home, sometimes in a roughly made pine box.
Other times, the body was washed and dressed in clean clothes, then laid on a table or bed for viewing.

United states prior to 1830


Various components of the funeral and burial rituals function to placate the soul to render its reluctant, usually involuntary, and frequently violent departure from this world, as amicably as possible, and to forestall any possibility that it might return to disturb those who remain behind.
- Useful objects placed in the pine box and objects that the deceased was particularly fond of (matches, small change)
- Body carried from the house feet first: by not seeing the door as it left, it would not be able to locate it later.
- The procession would take various paths, returning to the house by a different route to confuse the soul's sense of direction: the wailing and lamenting that had begun at the time of the death were forbidden upon the return trip lest the soul be distracted from its otherworldly journey and return.
- The mattress of the death bed (at conclusion of the funeral), was taken out and washed, and a meal was prepared by neighbors for the family and friends.
- Funeral activities concluded until the day of the dead (November 2nd) when a mass would be celebrated, the grave visited, and food left out on the table.
- Soul had to be convinced to say in the next world.

Italian American funerals


- Inventions paved the way for automation and systemization of the workforce.
- Businesses formalized their processes and services into a new type of professionalism.
- New ways to beautify death
- specialized business for casket makers

1830- 1920 America


In wake of the trend towards this, science, medicine, religion, philosophy, and education developed new ideas and specialized approaches to working and living.



Brought on by the modifications of death previously perpetuated by the church.

According to Farrell: religious thought in the nineteenth century migrated from the morbid, medieval notions of death to ideas developed from the logic and reason inherited from the Age of Enlightenment.



- influenced by the new romanticism and adapted from scientific naturalism.
- employed in the development of romantic, garden-like cemeteries.
- dealing with a person's death was considered a repugnant set of tasks to endure; thus the romantic and more spiritual customs came to replace the previous emphasis on the biological aspects of death.
- Accumulation of these factors turns American attitudes toward death in another direction.
- General entrepreneurial growth in this country fostered the development of the funeral business and the insurance industry.

The theology of death


1. Treatment of the body
2. The burial container
3. The funeral environment
4. Funeral procedures

Ferrel's 4 basic elements changed by American funeral practices.


- Funerary treatments and preparation for the deceased's body previously done by family and friends were replaced in the 20th century by outsiders whose profession was labeled "undertaker"
- Embalming became the preferred standard for preserving the body and improving it's appearance.
- form of protection via disinfection and preservation
- resolved the issue of premature burial
- "lay out the body so that there would be as little suggestion of death as possible"

Treatment of the body


Coffins were no longer built to conform the deceased's body but were designed in a standard rectangular shape that took the focus away from the individuality of death.

The burial container


- Funeral vigils and viewing of the body traditionally took place in the deceased's home, went to the church, then to the cemetery.
- After the turn of the century, funeral directors suggested the need for a town center that would accommodate the deceased's family in preparing the body, providing a common place for the vigil and funeral service, while at the same time serving as a receiving point for bodies that were being sent hoe from another state.
-1920 funeral homes established a cheerful atmosphere that was aesthetically pleasing to their clients.
- helps families deal with loss by removing practical burdens of death
- taking funerary duties out of the home, thereby lightening the physical and emotional load.

The funeral environment


- Shortening of the time spend wearing mourning clothes
- Family took a more passive role while the funeral director provided a brief service that focused on consoling the survivors.
- unknowingly contributed to a general suppression of grief.

The funeral procedures


Removed the ugliness and fear of death while simultaneously reducing its sting through aesthetic enhancements and distancing its reality.

The advent of 20th century industrialization and expansion of innovation