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Old 12-24-2013, 01:45 PM   #1
Johnny Dancing
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Graveside TV Funerals

It seems every time there is a funeral on a TV show or movie there is a beautiful graveside service. Has anyone else noticed this?

I have been to several funerals for rich and poor and the service is always inside some tacky Holiday Inn like funeral home room. Then they cart the corpse off to the cemetery where they store it for burial at the grave digger's convenience.

Are graveside funerals a TV trope or are they actually common in some places? Most funerals I have attended have been in Michigan so I supposed funeral home only services could be a Michigan thing.
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Old 12-24-2013, 02:01 PM   #2
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Every funeral I have been to was at the grave site, but it was never raining like it does for TV funerals.
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Old 12-24-2013, 02:09 PM   #3
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It seems every time there is a funeral on a TV show or movie there is a beautiful graveside service. Has anyone else noticed this? I have been to several funerals for rich and poor and the service is always inside some tacky Holiday Inn like funeral home room. Then they cart the corpse off to the cemetery where they store it for burial at the grave digger's convenience. Are graveside funerals a TV trope or are they actually common in some places? Most funerals I have attended have been in Michigan so I supposed funeral home only services could be a Michigan thing.
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I think it's regional. Growing up in AZ there was usually either a church or funeral home service, followed by a graveside service.

In New England, seems rare. Can only recall one graveside service: my grandfather's, which was in a foot of snow.
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Old 12-24-2013, 02:21 PM   #4
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I don't think that I've ever been to a funeral which did not include a graveside service.
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Old 12-24-2013, 02:36 PM   #5
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All funerals I've been to had both including my grandfather in 1980 (in NY) and my father in 1996 (in Florida).
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Old 12-24-2013, 02:54 PM   #6
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I've been to many many funerals, almost all catholic, and almost every one had both a church service (a funeral mass) followed by a brief graveside service.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Catholic_funeral
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Old 12-24-2013, 02:55 PM   #7
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I've never been to one where they actually have that device that lowers the casket into the ground while everyone is there. The ones I have been to they just conclude then wait for everyone to leave before actually lowering the casket and burying it (probably with a bulldozer or something).

I used to have an aunt who insisted on staying at the graveside to make sure the casket was actually lowered and buried so she knew that a) nobody stole anything out of the casket and b) that she knew that the person was actually buried there when she went to visit the grave. I don't think that anything actually happened to her to be this suspicious of the cemetery work staff, I think it was just some superstitious thing she did.
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Old 12-24-2013, 03:29 PM   #8
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The Mrs's father bought adjoining gravesites for himself and his wife. When MIL passed there was a graveside service where they lowered he casket into the ground and her daughters each dropped a rose onto the casket. This was during the spring/summer. When FIL passed, we did the whole "Flag Draped Casket -- Fold the flag and hand it to the oldest survivor" thing (FIL served in the Army during WWII). They didn't lower the casket into the ground because it was November and the ground was frozen.

Last edited by tiassa : 12-25-2013 at 08:27 PM.
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Old 12-24-2013, 04:35 PM   #9
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Oh well, at least this thread wasn't about putting old CRT sets into the ground.
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Old 12-24-2013, 04:57 PM   #10
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In my personal experience, it seems that if there's a graveside service, it's usually a much shorter one usually only for direct family, held after a more public one in a chapel or funeral home. I haven't personally seen one where the main service is at the graveside as they often show on TV/movies.
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Old 12-24-2013, 05:13 PM   #11
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Wow. I didn't know it was different elsewhere.

Here you can go the graveside after the funeral mass/memorial as you wish. They may leave the casket in a chapel if the ground is too frozen for burial.

For Jewish funerals the friends can throw in the first shovelfuls of earth.
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Old 12-24-2013, 06:31 PM   #12
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I've seen a big change in arrangements over the years. It was the full blown chapel service, funeral procession and graveside services when my grandparents died. When my Father died, we had a memorial service but family only went to the cemetery. Many years later when my Mother died, she had outlived everyone she knew except her children, so we just had a private graveside service for her. When my MIL passed we really did nothing except had her cremated.

I'm thankful the use of funeral processions has diminished greatly.
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Old 12-24-2013, 06:32 PM   #13
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For both my mother and father we had both services. I remember my mother's was very emotional - but it was rather brief.

For my father, it was an expanded service because the first service was 50 miles away - so the graveside was for the local people. He spent 40 years in one town (where I grew up and my mother died) and then after my mother died, he remarried and moved 50 miles away and made a bunch of new friends. So most people went to one or the other.

My MIL didn't want a graveside - she specifically had told her sons that when she died she didn't want it - she had already bought a plot in the middle of nowhere because it was really cheap.
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Old 12-24-2013, 09:26 PM   #14
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I have been to around 5 funerals or services, and one or two of them included a graveside component. At least one of those people was being cremated, so there was no grave to be at.
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Old 12-24-2013, 09:36 PM   #15
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Moving this thread to Now Playing makes me giggle....
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Old 12-24-2013, 09:44 PM   #16
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Moving this thread to Now Playing makes me giggle....
I'm pretty sure it started here, but I could be wrong.
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Old 12-24-2013, 10:02 PM   #17
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I'm pretty sure it started here, but I could be wrong.
Hmmmm- I thought it started in HH - but I could be wrong.
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Old 12-24-2013, 11:02 PM   #18
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I've been to both types, but more funeral home followed by procession to cemetery than only graveside. I've never been to one where the casket is actually lowered into the ground.

I bet the graveside only is cheaper, but honestly I think that type us "nicer". The chapels at the funeral homes just give off a weird vibe to me.

Strangely, I've only been to one in an actual church. Guess that just isn't common any more.
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Old 12-24-2013, 11:16 PM   #19
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Most I have been to start at the funeral home the wake was at, proceed to the church, and from the church to the cemetary. I'd say it's about 50/50 whether you end up graveside once at the cemetary - some end in a chapel instead of graveside. I've always assumed it had to do with weather. The graveside ones I have been to have all ended with the casket being lowered.
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Old 12-25-2013, 12:14 AM   #20
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When I was pretty young a great uncle or some kind of distant relative died and the family had his body brought to their home before the funeral for visitation and all. It was really weird as various family members would take turns staying in the living room with the body throughout the day and night. I think this went on for 2 days and nights.
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Old 12-25-2013, 12:24 AM   #21
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When I was pretty young a great uncle or some kind of distant relative died and the family had his body brought to their home before the funeral for visitation and all. It was really weird as various family members would take turns staying in the living room with the body throughout the day and night. I think this went on for 2 days and nights.
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It used to be the custom in most Celtic countries in Europe for mourners to keep watch or vigil over their dead until they were buried — this was called a "wake".

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Old 12-25-2013, 12:38 AM   #22
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I think part of this is the tenor of the show also. My recollection is that funerals in comedies are indoors. It provides a better atmosphere for comedy. The more solemn a show the more likely it is to be graveside.

I think the graveside also is a bit of a convenience. Rather than staging 2 parts, service and burial, they can just do one and everyone knows what's happening in a short amount of time.

It's kind of like the presents they have on TV where they just take the top of instead of needing to unwrap them. It's a convention. It helps tell the story in an efficient manner.
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Old 12-25-2013, 12:52 AM   #23
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Could it also be the fact that TV and film originates primarily from Hollywood, CA, where the weather is pretty much perfect 24/7/365? I suppose if you live somewhere like that, having a service outside probably makes sense.

Trying to hold a lengthy service outdoors in a place like Wisconsin where weather is unpredictable and often quite awful makes somewhat less sense. People aren't going to be thinking much about the deceased when they're more thinking about how bone-chillingly cold they are, for instance.
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Old 12-25-2013, 12:55 AM   #24
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It's kind of like the presents they have on TV where they just take the top of instead of needing to unwrap them. It's a convention. It helps tell the story in an efficient manner.
Heh - good point. How many real-world gifts are really given in boxes that have removable lids like that? I don't think I've ever gotten or given *anything* in that style of box. Some jewelry is about all I can think of that is commonly given in a box with a removable top.
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Old 12-25-2013, 12:56 AM   #25
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For Jewish funerals the graveside portion is a significant part of the whole thing. Usually (but not always) there is the service at the funeral home or temple. Then there is the motorcade to the cemetery. Then there is the graveside service. (Very solemn) Then everyone goes back to someones house where there tends to be lots of food and everyone stays and talks. Usually this has the opposite tenor of the funeral and graveside service. (Pretty upbeat discussions celebrating the good rememberences of the deceased.)

The graveside portion is very emotional. They lower the coffin while you're there. You are then encouraged to throw shovelfuls of dirt onto the casket. This makes a big THUD. There is nothing like hearing that thud to bring home the finality of what you are participating in. (Did I say it was emotional?)
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Old 12-25-2013, 12:58 AM   #26
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Heh - good point. How many real-world gifts are really given in boxes that have removable lids like that? I don't think I've ever gotten or given *anything* in that style of box.
Also like all bombs on TV or in the movies have a clock/timer that can be easily read.
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Old 12-25-2013, 01:07 AM   #27
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Trying to hold a lengthy service outdoors in a place like Wisconsin where weather is unpredictable and often quite awful makes somewhat less sense. People aren't going to be thinking much about the deceased when they're more thinking about how bone-chillingly cold they are, for instance.
I've been to a couple of Jewish graveside funerals during the winter in NY. (You dress warmly) Frozen ground didn't stop them from doing the burial. In the Jewish tradition you're supposed to be buried before sundown the next day. So I guess they don't let the frozen ground stop them. I wonder if this is the same in places where the ground gets really frozen hard like Wisconsin?
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Old 12-25-2013, 08:29 AM   #28
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I've been to a couple of Jewish graveside funerals during the winter in NY. (You dress warmly) Frozen ground didn't stop them from doing the burial. In the Jewish tradition you're supposed to be buried before sundown the next day. So I guess they don't let the frozen ground stop them. I wonder if this is the same in places where the ground gets really frozen hard like Wisconsin?
It's not like they are digging the graves with shovels. They use heavy equipment. We don't deal with much frozen ground in my area, but can you not still dig in frozen ground with things like backhoes and such? I hadn't ever given it much thought and now I'm curious.

Over the years my husband has dug many, many graves with his backhoe. Following the tradition started by his father, he's never charged money to dig a grave.
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Old 12-25-2013, 08:33 AM   #29
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I have never been to a grave side funeral but there is a very large cemetery near me and I see grave side stuff all the time so someone must be having them.

Any certain religion that does these?
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Old 12-25-2013, 10:55 AM   #30
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I have seen on Blue Bloods where a large funeral service is held in a church (usually ending with a Frank Reagan eulogy), but I think that is rare on TV.

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Every funeral I have been to was at the grave site, but it was never raining like it does for TV funerals.
The day we buried my oldest brother, we had a significant rain storm. My mother had hired a piper (bag pipes) who played at the church and then came to the graveside service and played there. If I remember correctly, they had a basic covering at the grave site (like an open-air tent where it was basically just a roof).

Then when the graveside service ended, we made our way to our cars and the piper led the procession (on foot in a torential rain fall) all the way to the main gate (somewhere between a quarter and a half mile). I will never forget that.


Most of the family funerals I have been to had a wake at the funeral home and they held a small service there the night before the funeral. The day of the funeral just the family would gather at the funeral home and there would be a procession to the church for the funeral service, then another procession to the cemetary with a small grave side service.
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