Buddhism - Buddhist funerals usually have multiple ceremonies, usually the visitation is the best one for friends to attend. There are different sects with different guidelines. Please call the home in charge to ask what is and is not appropriate. Do not wear red clothing or send red flowers. White flowers are best.
Christian - Most Christian faiths allow for either burial or cremation. Services at a funeral home or the church are both acceptable. Most Christian churches acknowledge a person who has been baptized as a member of the faith even though they may not have been actively practicing or a current member of a particular church. Therefore, if an individual who falls into this category wishes to have a Christian service explain to the church that you wish to have a service at the chosen church or would like the attendance of a church leader at a funeral home service. They usually will try to make accommodations. (This works best if the church is the home congregation or church of a family member or the family was a member at one time). Flowers are a good choice for all Christian services.
Catholic - Catholics believe that the body should be present for the funeral mass prior to cremation. Catholics do not believe in scattering ashes; the Church teaches that the ashes should be buried or placed in a niche
Protestant - Protestants believe in cremation and consider scattering of the ashes a perfectly acceptable practice. Many Protestant churches have scattering gardens attached to them. Flowers and food are both considered appropriate gifts to be sent to the funeral home or the family’s home. Certain small Protestant sects are opposed to cremation.
Eastern Orthodox - Many members of this group are still very much against the practice of cremation. The Eastern Orthodox Church forbids cremation and will not allow a religious ceremony for a member who chooses cremation without extenuating circumstances.
Hinduism - Hindus believe in cremation only. Typically there is an intimate time with family for a one day period where the deceased is mourned at home, not a funeral home. The deceased is taken to the crematorium with just the immediate family and priest. Do not send flowers.
Judaism - Judaism does not believe in a public viewing and believe that the body should be buried as soon as possible, many times even the same day that the person died. They do not believe in embalming or cremation. Burial should take place in a simple wood coffin and flowers should not be sent. A sympathy gift basket of food is usually the best option. The immediate family then sits Shiv’ah, or Shiva, which means 7 days of mourning at the family home. They will receive friends and other family at this time.
Liberal Jews - Do support cremation
Orthodox Jews - Fiercely oppose cremation
Islam- Muslims do not believe in cremation or embalming. The preparation of their loved ones is done by family or a funeral home that is familiar with Islamic customs. The family member is prepared for burial and wrapped in a white shroud. The deceased is laid directly into the grave without any type of casket, they are placed laying on their right side with their head facing toward Mecca. Very silent ceremony. Do not send flowers.
Non-Religious -Even without a religous service, you still have many options. You still may want a visitation at a funeral home with a ceremony in place befitting the individual. Select music, poems, readings, philosophies, or inspirational quotes. Have a eulogy or invite a few people to speak followed by a meditation in silence or to music. Or you may choose to have a service at the burial site or niche possibly followed by a gathering. If you decide to have a direct funeral or cremation you may opt for a memorial service at a future date to allow for planning.
Note: If a person believed in God but stopped formal practice or did not have membership in a church but would like a church ceremony for their funeral, ask a relative or friend to ask their church to have the service or contact a non-denominational church to see if they can help with arrangements.