The way that individuals mourn the loss of a loved one is a very personal expression of the type of relationship shared with the deceased. For many, processing through grief is a difficult experience, one that needs the support and strength from others. The Mormon periods of mourning attempt to blend the formal structure of religion with the caring compassion of a friend as it helps its members find comfort and hope.

Types of Services: Visitation, Funeral & Burial

Latter Day Saint churches typically have three distinct services to honor the dead and to console the grieving family.

Visitation Service or Wake

Prior to the funeral, a visitation service is normally held. The visitation, sometimes called a viewing or wake, is usually held at the same location where the funeral service will be held. Unless circumstances prohibit it, the viewing usually offers an open-casket. The viewing is open to any mourner who wishes to attend and pay respects. Often at the end of the viewing, a time is set aside for only the family and closest friends to mourn together. Many times a bishop will be present to bring comfort and counsel to the family and to offer prayers.

Funeral Service

The Mormon funeral service usually takes place in a ward, or local church building. It is also acceptable to hold the service at the funeral home or another location for convenience. Some funeral services may be held in the cemetery itself.

The Latter Day Saints funeral usually includes a time of sharing memories and thoughts about the deceased. Often one or more family members deliver a prepared eulogy honoring the deceased with fond stories of times shared.

The service almost always includes the traditional worship elements of hymns and music, Scripture readings, and a sermon. The messages delivered at Latter Day Saint funerals attempt to encourage and strengthen the bereaved by talking about hope and eternal life, but almost always include evangelistic threads of the atonement and the plan of salvation.

Graveside Service

It is customary in the LDS Church to have a graveside service following the funeral service. Typically any of the guests at the funeral are invited, though sometimes the family will request that the burial service be limited to the family. Some families will not hold a funeral and have only one service at the cemetery.

The service at the grave site is usually brief and is conducted by a Melchizedek Priestholder who acts in the name of God. The service usually begins with a prayer inviting the Heavenly Father’s presence. The priest then affirms that he is acting on the authority of Melchizadek and consecrates the site as the final resting place for the deceased. Words requesting that the place be protected and blessed are followed by a prayer asking God to comfort the bereaved.

As some are aware that certain services of the Latter Day Saints are open to members of the church only, some non-Mormons wonder if they are allowed to attend a funeral service for a Mormon. The services that are restricted to members of the church are the services held in a Mormon temple. Most funeral services are held in wards, or local churches, and thus are open to anyone wishing to attend.

Mourning Traditions, Customs & Rituals

Funeral services are typically not held on Sundays in the Latter Day Saints churches. The somber attitude that prevails during a funeral makes it difficult to properly worship God on the sacred day set aside to honor him.

After the funeral and burial services, it is traditional in the Latter Day Saints churches to have the family and close friends meet back at the church building for a meal prepared by the women’s Relief Society. A typical meal of ham or turkey, potatoes, salad, rolls and dessert is provided and allows the bereaved to have some time together to reflect with each other about the life of the deceased.

Length of the Mourning Period

Latter Day Saint churches do not have a set amount of time that should be spent in mourning. Since the funeral if usually held within a week of the death, the period of time from the death to the burial is considered the most intense period of mourning.

Mormon doctrine places value on the role that ancestors play in the shaping of the character and activities of the current generation. Remembering the deceased is a way to honor those of the past. It is common to gather family together, pray and tell stories, and visit cemeteries on birthdays, anniversaries or other dates important to the family.


The grave site at the cemetery holds a special place in the teachings of the Latter Day Saints Church. The grave is blessed and dedicated by a priest prior to the burial. A special service conducted by the priest or his representative is held at the time of the burial. The site then becomes a special place for family and friends to gather and remember their loved one.

Comforting the Bereaved

Members of the Latter Day Saints Church traditionally have visitation times before the funeral and burial services.

Visiting the home of the family following the funeral is an appropriate way to offer comfort and support. Though there is no official mourning period in the Mormon tradition, words of hope and encouragement in the days following the funeral are always appreciated. Such gestures make the bereaved feel assured that their loved one is remembered and that they are cared for.