At Bare, we understand that planning a funeral can be a daunting and emotional task. Amid the multitude of decisions to be made, the pivotal choice between a traditional or contemporary funeral service can weigh heavily. 

As a proud Australian-owned company, we're dedicated to facilitating a meaningful farewell that resonates with your unique beliefs, values, and preferences.

In this article, we will explore whether a traditional funeral is the right choice for you and your loved ones.

What is a traditional funeral?

A traditional funeral, as its name implies, follows long-established practices and norms. The ceremony usually includes a viewing or wake, a formal funeral service in a church or funeral home, and a burial or cremation, typically with a committal service at the graveside or crematorium. 

The defining features of a traditional funeral include a structured format, religious undertones, and a respectful atmosphere.

The coffin is placed at the front of the church, chapel or crematorium for mourners to visit and pay their last respects before the funeral service begins. Once the service concludes, the coffin is then cremated or transported to the cemetery or burial site for a short graveside service before being committed to the ground.

The mourners then move onto the wake or funeral reception for refreshments and to share memories of the departed and support each other through their grief.

While the service is quite structured, with formal rituals, there are many opportunities to customise it to your preferences by adding music and flowers.

Assessing the personal and cultural significance.

Many families find solace in traditional funerals. The established format can provide a pathway for expressing grief and paying respects, and the religious elements can offer spiritual comfort during a difficult time.

If you or your family hold dear the values of heritage, tradition, and rituals, a traditional funeral might be a fitting choice. Consider the role that religious or cultural customs play in your life, as these can significantly influence your decision. A traditional service can provide a fitting and respectful commemoration of the deceased's life, echoing the customs and rituals that held significance to them.

Moreover, for those who value a sense of community and collective mourning, traditional funerals often allow a wider circle of relatives, friends, and community members to come together and offer mutual support, as churches or chapels often can hold a larger number of people.

Traditional vs contemporary: evolving trends.

Traditional funerals have been an integral part of Australian culture. However, societal attitudes and preferences around end-of-life ceremonies are changing. More Australians are recently opting for personalised ceremonies that echo the unique life and personality of the departed, rather than adhering strictly to traditional formats.

But this shift in trend doesn't make traditional funerals any less relevant. Instead, it underscores the growing recognition of the need for personalisation in funeral planning. At Bare we don’t believe there is a single way to say goodbye to a loved one, which is why our Bare Funerals are flexible to ensure you say your farewell in the way that’s right for you and your loved one. Whether that’s a more traditional funeral service, or a memorial-style service that takes place after a direct cremation. A blend of traditional and contemporary elements could result in a personalised ceremony that uniquely celebrates the life lived.

Factors influencing your choice.

Several factors can influence your decision when it comes to choosing between a traditional and contemporary funeral.

Personal beliefs: Your personal or religious beliefs can play a critical role in this decision. If you find comfort in religious rites and rituals, a traditional funeral might be the better choice.

Cultural norms: Cultural norms can dictate certain practices and rituals that are crucial during the mourning period. If these customs are important to you and your family, a traditional funeral could be more appropriate.

Preferences of the deceased: If the deceased had expressed specific wishes regarding their funeral, these should guide your decision-making. Honouring these wishes can be an essential part of the grieving process.

Community expectations: Sometimes, the expectations of your community or extended family can influence the decision. A traditional funeral allows for a broader community involvement, which can be a crucial factor for some.

Making the choice on behalf of the deceased.

If you are deciding on whether a traditional funeral is the right choice for a loved one who has passed away, consider the previous factors and think deeply about who your loved one was and what they would have wanted. 

It can be extremely difficult to make a decision for them when they aren’t there to make their thoughts heard, but this practice can help make the decision a little easier. For example, if they were a person who upheld traditional values, had a strong connection with their faith or preferred more formal events, then a traditional funeral may be the right choice.

However, if the person was a more relaxed and casual individual that didn’t care for formalities or had no particular connection to tradition or religion, consider that a traditional funeral may not accurately reflect the person they were.

Informing your loved ones of your choice.

If you have decided that when your time comes, you would like a traditional funeral, it’s important to communicate your wishes to your loved ones, particularly your next-of-kin. You can use a tool such as our Final Wishes to help outline what you want for your farewell, and to easily share with the relevant people.

It may feel morbid or uncomfortable to think about your end-of-life, but know that you’re helping family and friends avoid unnecessary stress during difficult times and ensuring your funeral is handled according to your wishes.

Read: How to create an end of life plan.

Final thoughts on traditional funerals.

At the end of the day, there isn't a 'right' or 'wrong' way to plan a funeral. It's about what feels most fitting to you and respects the life and wishes of your loved one.

Traditional funerals can provide comfort and a sense of closure to many, but for others, a less conventional route might feel more fitting. Whichever path you choose, the ultimate goal is to create a space where loved ones can come together to remember, celebrate, and say goodbye in a manner that's most meaningful to them.

Remember, you're not alone in this journey. At Bare, we're here to provide guidance and support, offering a range of services that cater to both traditional and contemporary tastes.

A traditional funeral could be the right choice if it aligns with your personal beliefs, cultural norms, or the wishes of the departed. However, with evolving societal trends and an increasing preference for personalisation, remember that your options are not limited to the parameters of tradition.

At Bare, we believe that every farewell should be as unique as the life it honours. If you’re unsure about what’s right for you and your family, our team is only ever a phone call away.  For help planning a funeral that reflects your wishes, call us on 1800 071 176 any time.