Funerals are among the oldest practices of mankind. Since time immemorial, people from all over the world have honored their dead and paid their last respects in one form or another.
Today, funerals can be held in both traditional and unique ways, depending on the person’s culture, religion, beliefs and personality. For that reason, a funeral could last a short or long period of time. In this guide, we’ll take a look at the different lengths of various types of funerals.
How long is a funeral?
The duration of a funeral can range from a short half-an-hour to more than two hours. On average, a funeral’s length is around 40 to 60 minutes.
Funerals, wakes and memorials
Typically, wakes happen not long after a death occurs, and often immediately preceding a funeral. That’s because the purpose of a wake is for family, close friends and the community at large to come together in support of the family of the deceased.
In some countries, this could last for up to a week, since members of the family could be traveling from far away places.
On the other hand, celebration of life ceremonies, also known as a memorial service, are often held weeks or months after a death. It is a time of reflection and typically lasts only for hours, or a day.
How long is a funeral service in church?
There are multiple types of Christian denominations, and each type of Christian church has its own way of conducting a worship service. This is why there are several types of funeral services, depending on that church’s traditions.
Regardless of the denomination, the average church funeral service typically lasts about 40 minutes. Let’s take a look at the different types of Christian churches below, so that you can estimate how long a funeral service will take for each one.
How long is a Catholic funeral service?
The Catholic funeral mass is commonly around 40 minutes. However, a Catholic church’s funeral service could be much longer if it includes what’s called a Requiem Mass.
When a Requiem Mass is part of the funeral mass, the Holy Communion is included. This is the tradition in which parishioners line up to take the Holy Eucharist and communion wine. For this reason, the time of a Catholic funeral service could be longer, depending on how many people partake in the Holy Communion.
How long are other Christian church funeral services?
Christian Protestants and other Christian denominations tend to have the same average funeral service length, which is 40 minutes to one hour.
While the Holy Communion is typically associated with the Catholic Church, Protestant and Baptist churches may offer communion as part of their funeral services. This could extend the funeral service’s duration.
That’s why it’s good to know the departed’s religious faith, or what their family details in a funeral invitation. Even if the religious denomination isn’t stated, the name of the church on a funeral service invitation could offer some clues.
How long is a funeral home service?
A funeral home service may take between 15 to 20 minutes if their chapel is non-religious. However, if the funeral home chapel is associated with a particular religion or denomination, it may take 30 minutes to one hour, depending on the specific funeral rites and traditions of that denomination.
How long is a graveside funeral service?
A graveside funeral service usually lasts around 15 to 20 minutes. Keep in mind that the graveside funeral service is typically followed by attendees paying respects to the departed and their family, therefore the total attendance time can be much longer than 20 minutes, depending on the number of guests in attendance.
A graveside funeral service can be conducted as the final and only funeral service, or it can be part of a larger service, such as a church funeral mass that concludes with the interment. It could also be the conclusion of a funeral home service. The graveside funeral service is sometimes seen as the final destination of a funeral procession that starts at a funeral home. If this is the type of funeral service you will be attending or hosting, then the entire service could last up to a few hours.
How long does a cremation funeral service last?
A cremation funeral service could last between one and two hours. This is because a funeral home or church cremation funeral service includes an specific type of interment, which will occur in a church’s garden specially designed for hosting ashes or urns. The remains could also be interred in a private memorial garden, memorial wall, mausoleum or columbarium.
However, if the ashes of the departed are to be taken home by the family, either for safekeeping or to be scattered elsewhere at a later time, the cremation funeral service could last for less than an hour.
How long does a Jewish funeral last?
A Jewish funeral service typically takes between 15 minutes to an hour. While a Jewish funeral service is traditionally held at a synagogue or graveside, it can also take place at a funeral home. Modern Jewish sects may also accept cremation funeral services, which could take a bit longer than traditional Jewish funeral rites.
How long does a Buddhist funeral last?
A Buddhist funeral service could last around 30 minutes to one hour. Prayer offerings and and a sermon are common in Buddhist funeral services, so the service could last longer than an hour, depending on the traditions and the particular Buddhist sect or temple chosen for the service.
You should also keep in mind that traditional Buddhist practice dictates that the body should be cremated after the funeral service. The scattering of ashes — typically in moving water, like a river — could be part of the overall funeral service.
How long does a Muslim funeral last?
A Muslim funeral service is quite simple and can take anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour. Before the funeral rites, the body of the departed is cleansed by an Imam with the help of family members, close friends, or volunteers if there are no family present. This cleansing is called ghusl. The body is then wrapped ceremoniously in a white shroud called kafan.
While these ceremonies are not exactly part of the funeral service, if you are going to take part in the cleansing or wrapping ritual, you should take that into consideration in terms of the time you'll need. Remember that cremation is forbidden in Islam, so you won’t have to factor in this option when estimating funeral service time. After the funeral prayers are completed, the funeral guests will proceed to the cemetery for burial.
A time to reflect
Regardless of the time spent attending a funeral service, the most important thing is to honor the person who's passed away, and to give them a final farewell. One of the greatest gifts you can give a loved one is to be with them and cherish their memory to the very last moment.
If you would like to learn more about the funeral process, you can consult with a funeral director. Take a look at our guide on finding trusted funeral directors to help you get started.
Additionally, you can create an online memorial here. It’s a beautiful way to honor your loved one’s legacy and memory.