Beliefs Regarding Death
Greek Orthodox Christian believe that death leads to the separation of the body from the soul. They believe that when Christ comes again to the world, final judgement will be delivered to each soul which would result in it spending an eternity in either Heaven or Hell.
Greek Funeral Etiquette
The Greek Orthodox funeral is considered a serious ritual that takes anywhere in between 30 minutes to an hour. Attendees of the funeral are expected to dress in a specific manner, often dark and somber clothing for women and dark jackets with ties for men. Greek Orthodox funeral services are typically open casket if the state of the body of the deceased allows for it to be so,however viewing the body is completely optional and is up to the guests. Guests at the funeral service often greet the families of the deceased and provide their condolences by saying the phrase “memory eternal” or “may their memory be eternal” or “may you have an abundant life”.
The Greek Orthodox Funeral Service
Priests of the Greek Orthodox Church lead the service and use multiple readings such as The Divine Liturgy of St, John Chrysostom. Attendees that do not share the same faith as the congregation are expected to stand and participate in the service. After the prayers are done, the graveside service is conducted in which prayers are done, then each guest is expected to place a flower on the casket before the deceased is interred to the earth. The Greek Orthodox funeral service is held in a church of the same faith, generally between two and three days of the death occurring. Greek Orthodox funerals do not happen on Sundays or Holy Saturday.
Views on Cremation
The Greek church does not tolerate cremation as it is part of the Orthodox Christian Faith. Orthodox Christians, specifically Greek Orthodox as it is the oldest Christian denomination, do not cremate their dead since it is considered destructive to the body.
Mourning and Memorializing the Dead
The bereaved usually does not go to work for a week. In many cases, widows avoid social events for a whole year. It is typical for mourners to avoid gatherings for the first forty days after the death occurs and also only wear black clothing during that time. Greek Orthodox widows usually wear black for two years. Memorial services are held on the Sunday closest to the fortieth day after the death. Different memorial services are also held annually on the anniversary of the death.