Do funerals take place over Christmas?

Published: 18/1/2024

Losing a loved one is never easy and the holiday season can be an especially challenging time to cope with grief. Many people wonder if funerals can or should take place over Christmas. In this article, we'll explore this sensitive topic, provide guidance and offer support to help you navigate this difficult time.

Grief doesn't take a break during the festive season, funerals taking place over Christmas period is the family's choice in the end.
Grief doesn't take a break during the festive season, funerals taking place over Christmas period is the family's choice in the end.

Understanding the importance of funerals

Funerals are an essential part of the grieving process. They provide an opportunity for family and friends to come together to honour and remember the life of the deceased. Funerals offer a sense of closure and a chance to share memories and emotions. While they are typically solemn events, they also serve as a way to celebrate the life that was lived.

Grief doesn't take a holiday

Grief knows no calendar and it doesn't take a break during the festive season. Losing a loved one is heart-wrenching at any time of the year, and the pain can be particularly acute during holidays like Christmas. The holiday season is often associated with joy, togetherness and celebration, but for those who are mourning, it can intensify feelings of loss and loneliness.

Can funerals take place over Christmas?

The answer to this question is yes, funerals can take place over Christmas. The timing of a funeral should be determined by the needs and wishes of the family and close friends. If holding the funeral during the Christmas season is what feels right, it is absolutely acceptable. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, as each family's circumstances and cultural traditions differ.

RELATED ARTICLE: How to cope with grief over the holidays

Factors to consider

While it's entirely possible to have a funeral during the Christmas season, there are some factors to consider:

Timing in Australia: The timing of a funeral in Australia depends entirely on you, the family and the deceased. Typically, funerals are held within a few days to a week after a person's passing, but cultural and religious traditions, as well as personal preferences, play a significant role. In cases where the death is unknown an autopsy may take place which means you will need to wait longer for the body to be returned to the family. There really aren't any rules around how long after a death a funeral has to take place, as long as there is clear communication between the family and the funeral director, together you will find the most suitable time.

Availability of services: During the holiday season, some funeral homes and service providers may have limited availability due to staff taking time off for their own holidays. It's important to check with the funeral home to ensure they can accommodate your needs and schedule the service at a convenient time.

Family and friends: Christmas is a time when many people have commitments to their own families and may have travel plans. Consider checking with close family members and friends to ensure they can attend the funeral if you decide to hold it during the holiday season.

Emotional toll: The emotional impact of a Christmas funeral can be significant. It may be a time of mixed emotions, as you mourn your loved one while surrounded by the festivities of the season. Be prepared for the emotional challenges and consider seeking support from a grief counsellor or a support group.

Decisions to make: Ultimately, the decision to have a funeral during Christmas should be based on what feels right for you and your family. If it brings comfort or feels like the right way to honour your loved one, then it is a valid choice. However, if the holiday season would make the grieving process more challenging for you and your family, you may choose to postpone the funeral until after the holidays.

Do funerals go ahead during the Christmas holidays?
Do funerals go ahead during the Christmas holidays?

Alternatives to consider

If holding a traditional funeral during Christmas doesn't feel appropriate or manageable, or you want to do honour your loved one at Christmas and hold a funeral in the new year perhaps, consider these alternative ways to remember them:

Memorial service: Consider holding a memorial service in the new year when the holiday rush has subsided. This allows you to focus on commemorating your loved one without the added stress of the holiday season.

Online memorial: In today's digital age, you can create an online memorial or tribute page where family and friends can share memories, photos and condolences. This can provide a sense of connection and support, even if you can't be together in person.

Private gathering: Instead of a formal funeral, you can opt for a smaller, private gathering with close family and friends to remember your loved one. This can be a more intimate way to find solace during the holidays.

Grief doesn't adhere to a calendar, and the timing of a funeral should be based on your needs and circumstances.
Grief doesn't adhere to a calendar, and the timing of a funeral should be based on your needs and circumstances.

Seeking support

Dealing with grief during Christmas can be exceptionally challenging. It's essential to lean on your support network during this time. Reach out to friends and family who understand your pain and are willing to offer emotional support. Additionally, professional grief counselling or therapy can provide valuable guidance and coping strategies.

To find support:

Beyond Blue provides Australians with information and support to improve their mental health. Call 1300 22 46 36 or visit beyondblue.org.au for more information.

Lifeline Australia provides Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24-hour crisis support. Call 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au for more information.

GriefLine listens, cares and supports people experiencing loss and grief, at any stage in life. Call 1300 845 6am to midnight AEST, 7 days a week.

MensLine Australia is a professional telephone and online support and information service for Australian men. Call 1300 78 99 78, 24 hours / 7 days a week.

Life Supports Counselling provides Australians with experienced counsellors & psychologists in their local area Australia-wide. Call 1300 735...

Kids Helpline is a free 24/7, confidential and private counselling service Australia wide specifically for children and young people aged 5 to 25 years. Call 1800 55 1800.

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