The Mormon funeral and burial traditions help to provide assurance and hope for the bereaved during their time of loss. The rituals of the religion take some of the burden of decision making off the family by outlining the preparation and procedures for the funeral and burial. The Latter Day Saints Church have funeral customs that blend the honor and respect of ceremony with the compassion and love of a grieving family.

Once the Death Occurs

When the death occurs, the bishop of the Latter Day Saints church should be contacted immediately to begin making preparations for the funeral and to help secure the use of a funeral home. Though the funeral home does not have to be exclusively Mormon, it is beneficial to find one that is familiar with the church’s traditions. If arrangements to secure a funeral home were not made prior to death, the bishop can assist with recommendations.

Many bishops will also assist in notifying friends and relatives through communication avenues within the church. Ministry organizations and women’s guilds often will assist with several tasks to ease the burden of the grieving family. The bishop may also assist in preparing the obituary and newspaper releases.

Another task of the bishop is to notify the Melchizedek Priesthood leader or high-level priest of the death. This leader will provide pastoral support and counsel for the grieving family, and will have specific tasks in the funeral and burial services.

Organ donation is acceptable in the Latter Day Saints tradition. If the deceased had expressed wishes for the donation of all or several organs, notification to proper authorities should be made immediately.

Preparing for the Funeral

In the Latter Day Saint traditions, most of the preparations of the body for the funeral are left into the hands of the funeral director and other professionals. Embalming is an acceptable practice and the preferences of the family and the laws of the land will be honored.

The clothing worn by the deceased is an important part of the preparation of the body for the funeral and burial. If the deceased were a baptized believer and received the temple endowment, then the body will be buried in the temple garments and temple clothing. The temple garments are white underwear that are provided by the church. The temple clothing are also all white but are to have been purchased by the deceased prior to death.

For the women, the temple clothing would consist of a long-sleeved white dress, white stockings and white shoes. The dress would be semi-formal and floor length. Some options are available for the women and the clothing might be a white skirt with a white blouse.

The temple clothing for men is also white and would include a long-sleeved shirt, pants, tie, socks and shoes. The deceased should be dressed in the temple clothing by an endowed family member of the same sex. If no family member is available, the bishop of the church may appoint someone to fulfill the task. If the body of the deceased is too fragile to be dressed, the clothing may be placed inside the casket, neatly folded, and placed next to the body.

Baptism and death are doctrines that are intertwined in the teachings of the Mormon Church. If a person has received the church’s baptism, the person may be buried in the official burial clothing, adorning him for heaven’s entry. Though such clothing does not prohibit entry into paradise, it allows the believer to be properly dressed and honored at heaven’s reunion.

The Mormons allow for believers to be baptized on behalf of a dead loved one. A newly converted Mormon may be baptized for their ancestors or be baptized for a family member who has just passed away. Prior to the funeral preparations, family members may petition the church for baptismal services on behalf of the deceased.

What Should Be Done

Mormon funeral services are traditionally very quiet, somber times of remembrance. The church tries to allow for the natural expressions of grief to be flavored with a strong hope that death is not the end. Funerals make use of traditional sacred music, hymns accompanied by organ, prayers and Scripture readings.

Latter Day Saint funerals tend to be used as a teaching opportunity to share with those who are not Mormon. Church leadership recognizes that many attending the funeral are not regular attenders of a Mormon church, but are thoughtful of the brevity of life and other spiritual matters during the time of mourning.

Prior to the funeral, Latter Day Saint churches hold a time of visitation where family, friends and church members can gather to comfort the bereaved and show respect and honor for the deceased. Typically the visitation will occur the afternoon and evening prior to the funeral. Visitations may be held on Sundays, preferably late afternoon and evening.

While the casket is often open during the visitation service, during the funeral service the casket is traditionally closed. The service is typically simple, with prayers, Scripture readings, hymns and an evangelistic message of comfort dominating the time together. Family members may speak, but often will recite the family prayer rather than presenting a more formal eulogy. Humorous anecdotes are typically not shared during the funeral service, incorporated instead into the visitation times or the meal held following the funeral.

When Should It Be Held

Funeral services are usually held within a week of the death. The services are typically not held on Sundays, respecting both the day of resurrection of Jesus and the time set aside to worship God. In addition, it would be rare for a funeral service to be held on Christmas day.

How Should Respects Be Paid

Those attending the visitation or funeral services will want to show respect for the deceased and honor the traditions and customs of the religion. Dress at the services does not have to be formal, but should reflect respect and decorum for the somber occasion.

The way that people show respect will often be dependent upon the relationship shared with the deceased and family. Presence at any or all of the services always offers support and shows the value placed on the relationship. Sympathy cards or notes expressing condolences are an appropriate means of providing comfort to the family. Flowers or other memorial gifts are often sent to the funeral home or family house to share respect. Gifts such as food baskets or donations to the church or favorite charities and organizations are appropriate for those with a closer relationship to the family.

Final Resting State

Because of the value the church places upon the body and the teaching that the body and soul will be reunited, the preferred final resting state in the Mormon tradition is by burial in a casket. Exceptions are made based upon circumstances and location.


The Latter Day Saints Church usually has a graveside service following the funeral service. Most of the time this service is open to the public, though occasionally the family will request a private service to be held.

The service at the cemetery is brief and is conducted by the Melchizedek Priestholder who has been assigned to the family by the church bishop. While brief, it is filled with tradition and ceremony. The priest begins with a prayer and follows with a scripted affirmation of the authority and presence of God in the service. Blessings and protection will be petitioned from God and a prayer asking God to comfort the bereaved will close the service.


Latter Day Saints traditionally practice burial instead of cremation. This custom stems from the belief that eventually the soul will be reunited with the body. Because the religion has spread world-wide, the church will make exceptions to this if local laws and customs prohibit burial. Other exceptions are made when unusual circumstances have caused the body to be lost or severely damaged.

In the event that cremation is chosen, Mormons will encourage a traditional funeral service be held, allowing the family the opportunity to mourn, be comforted by others and to begin the healing process.