If you are Eastern Orthodox, your faith community and church will take care of a lot of the funeral process for you if you lose a loved one. However, you may still need the help of a funeral home. Here's what a funeral home can do:
1. Prepare the Body
Traditionally, many people who are Eastern Orthodox prefer to do some of the preparation of the body on their own. This includes washing and dressing the deceased and may include anointing the deceased with oil. This tradition mirrors the preparation of Jesus' body for burial, as described in Luke 23:50-56.
Even if you want to do this part of the process on your own, you may want the funeral home to help with some of the preparation. For instance, if there was an accident, the funeral home can help with reconstructing some of the face or body so it can be viewed—there are limitations, so it depends on the extent of the injuries.
If you have friends or family coming in from out of town and you have to delay the funeral, you may want the funeral home to embalm the deceased as well. This preservation process requires specialised knowledge and skills, and it's not something you can do on your own.
2. Hosting the Viewing
Many Eastern Orthodox families like to have a wake before the funeral, at their home. However, if your home is not large enough to host everyone, you may want some help from a funeral home. Many funeral homes have viewing areas that are suitable for hosting wakes.
3. Transporting the Body
If you decide to have the wake at home, the funeral director can move the deceased's body from the funeral home to your house. Similarly, these professionals can also move the body to the church and eventually to the cemetery.
4. Accommodating Prayer Services
If you don't have an Eastern Orthodox church in your community, the funeral home may even be able to host the service for you. Many funeral homes have chapels where you can have church services or funerals from a variety of faiths. If you know an Eastern Orthodox priest, you can ask him to come say the service.
Otherwise, you may just want to integrate some of the traditional elements into a nondenominational funeral service. For instance, you may want to integrate the prayers or scriptures commonly read at most Eastern Orthodox services.
Click here for more information on Orthodox funerals.