Can I Hold a Funeral on a Holiday?
One of the most popular sayings in the funeral planning industry is that no one can time the moment of their death. No matter how much preparation you do in advance, the loss of a loved one is always a shock—and the shock often comes during a bad time of the week, month, or year.
Although you can technically hold a funeral service at any time (provided you have the body cremated as opposed to buried), most people opt to have a funeral within the first week following death. Grief is still so fresh during this time that family may need the support and closure that a funeral provides, and any time you choose traditional burial, it is best not to delay longer than necessary.
So what happens when death occurs near a holiday? Is it acceptable to bury a loved one on a day set aside to commemorate a national or religious holiday? Or will you have to reschedule if the dates get in the way?
National and Public Holidays
The death care industry is a 365 days a year, 24 hours a day business. Funeral directors and their staff work on call and are available around the clock to help you in your time of need. This means that if death occurs on a national holiday, you will still be able to find someone to help you start to make arrangements.
However, holding funerals on national holidays is rare. Some of the most obvious funeral holidays (Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day) are extremely busy ones for cemeteries, and they tend not to schedule burials while so many mourners are out paying their respects. And outside of the death care providers, you might not be able to find (or be required to pay more for) support services like procession companies, officiants, musicians, and caterers, since it is a national holiday for them, too.
Because of this, most funeral professionals recommend you wait a day or two and hold the funeral on another day.
Sundays and Religious Holidays
Most funerals are held on Fridays and Saturdays because people are more available than they might be during the week. Sunday funerals can and do exist, but because it often interrupts traditional religious observances, they tend to be less common.
Traditional religious observances on holidays like Christmas and Easter make funeral planning even more difficult. On these days, you are much less likely to find a religious official willing to hold the funeral service, a church that isn’t already being used, and funeral support providers who are not off with their own families and celebrations. Cemeteries may also have restrictions during this time.
When to Hold the Funeral?
Always talk with your funeral director and the cemetery representative to find an ideal date for the funeral. Holiday services are rarely ideal, so you will most likely be directed to the days preceding or following the popular date.