It's sometimes difficult to know what is appropriate for a funeral if you are not familiar with the family's religious beliefs. Although many traditions, such as the giving of flowers, cross religious lines, others do not. And even when traditions do cross over, they may hold slightly different meanings. For Jehovah's Witnesses -- or Watchtower Society members -- flowers are appropriate for a funeral, but with some restrictions.
Flowers should be sent to the deceased's family before or after the memorial service, which is usually held about a week after the death. Avoid sending flower arrangements meant to be displayed at the service, such as a wreath placed on a stand, or an arrangement meant to drape over a casket, as Jehovah's Witnesses believe that funeral services should be extremely modest. Instead, send a simple bouquet or plant and a sympathy card directly to the family of the deceased.
Beliefs About Death
Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe in an eternal soul that lives on after death. Since they do not believe in Hell, they do not believe that souls will go there when the body dies. They do believe in heaven, but they do not believe that the soul travels there at the moment of death. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that death is the end of all consciousness until God resurrects the deceased. This belief is reflected in how they hold their funeral services.
Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the dead should not be venerated in any way because such traditions are a result of worldliness and do not reflect scripture. Wakes, ceremonies and special rituals -- anything meant to honor the dead -- are not in following with their beliefs and as such, are not present at most funeral services. Instead, funeral services are simple, modest and focus on Biblical readings and teachings. They are short in comparison to other religious funeral services -- between 15 and 30 minutes on average.
Jehovah's Witnesses do not use religious symbols in their gathering place -- called Kingdom Hall -- or anywhere else. Religious symbols are often tied to holidays, many of which they do not celebrate -- including Easter and Christmas -- because they believe them to have pagan origins. Therefore, if you do send flowers to the family of the deceased, or to the funeral home, avoid sending flowers in the shape of a religious symbol, such as a cross, or any flowers that have a religious symbol attached to them.
- Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images