When a family member dies, one of the first things to do is to contact a reputable Funeral Director who will assist you with the various arrangements that need to be made. The Funeral Director will contact your local priest and arrange with him the date and time of the funeral.

The funeral of a Catholic should normally be celebrated with a Requiem (Funeral)  Mass in the Church, followed by Christian Burial, although the choice of cremation is acceptable provided that it is not chosen for an anti-Christian motive. The body may be brought to the Church the day before the Funeral, although this is optional.

The character of a Catholic Funeral

It is important not to be unduly influenced by the portrayal of funerals in popular television drama, or what you may have witnessed happening elsewhere in other churches, or what appears in the television commercials of funeral firms. 

Our Catholic Funeral Mass is a deeply good event in which a balanced combination of elements are present. Naturally, we are sad that somebody we love has died: attempting to make the funeral a superficially light-hearted occasion is inappropriate. On the other hand, our Catholic faith means that the Funeral is not “the end” but a liturgical celebration filled with the hope of eternal life. We who are left behind are sad, but the deceased person is assisted by our prayers and rejoices in our charity towards them. After the funeral has finished, it is good to arrange a gathering of relatives and friends to relax and share their memories of the deceased.

In the Catholic Funeral we do “celebrate the life” of the person who has died, but this is not the principal focus. Their most pressing need is for our prayers for the forgiveness of “any sins they committed through human frailty.” In fact, the two things are not exclusive. We both remember and give thanks for the good that our deceased friend or relative has done, and at the same time pray for them  - as they prayed for others.

The music at the Funeral Mass should ideally be the texts of the Mass. As an alternative, suitable hymns may be chosen. 

Recorded music and secular songs are never permitted at a Requiem Mass or a Funeral Liturgy in church, but can be played at the reception/wake afterwards, where they are more appropriate. Please don't cause yourself embarrassment or  unnecessary pain by asking for them to be used in the church - the answer will always be a polite but firm 'No'.  

It is also important to remember that a rite of committal at a crematorium is still part of the Funeral Liturgy, and any music chosen should reflect the fact that this is an act of worship of Almighty God - we are there first and foremost to pray for the person who has died.

It is permitted for someone to give a brief speech or words in remembrance of the deceased person before the Mass or liturgy begins, although this is by no means necessary, and can often be found difficult or even embarrassing for all concerned because of the perfectly natural grief that is experienced. Again, it is advisable to make such speeches at a reception after the committal when people are more relaxed. If it is going to be in church it should be of two or three minutes' duration and the content should reflect the fact that it is in a church context.

Remembering the Holy Souls

One of the most important characteristics of the Catholic funeral is that it is not “the end”. The Church prays for all the Faithful Departed every day at Mass, and parishes make it possible for Masses to be requested for the repose of the soul of individuals, especially on the anniversary of their death. This ancient practice, which was known in the earliest centuries of the Church, helps us to remember our loved ones in a constructive way, to place our grief in its proper perspective, and to help them by our Christian charity.

November is observed as a month of special prayer for the Holy Souls. During November we celebrate All Souls Day (2 November), we usually have a service for the blessing of graves at a local cemetery, and we give special honour to the memory of our loved ones by listing their names on the November Dead List.