Simplicity is a way of life for the Amish, an outlook that carries through until the end of days. Burial and funeral customs vary among Amish settlements, but commonalities they all share are togetherness, plainness and minimalism.
Amish Beliefs About Death
Members of the Amish community don’t dwell on the tragic aspect of the unfortunate event, and instead are more reserved because they believe God willed the death; dying is just part of life. This does not mean that the Amish do not mourn the death of loved ones. It is a somber time in the community, and visitors to the viewing and funeral usually wear black. The Amish believe that a well-lived life can lead to salvation in heaven.
Preparation for the Burial
The body is embalmed at a non-Amish funeral home and returned to the deceased’s home for the viewing, which lasts two days. The body is dressed in all white and laid in a simple wooden casket. No cosmetics are used to prepare the body for the viewing and funeral. Often the Amish make the wooden caskets. Regarding other arrangements, the community steps in so that the immediate family members do not have to take on the burden.
Amish funerals are held in a shop, barn or home of the deceased. A preacher gives two sermons: One lasts about 20 minutes and the other, about an hour. There is no a eulogy for the deceased, but instead the congregation hears the creation story. After the final sermon, those attending walk by the casket while the preacher reads his or her name and recites a prayer. After the casket is closed, it is moved on to the cemetery. It is not uncommon for hundreds of people from the Amish community to attend the funeral, but usually only close friends and family members return to the deceased’s home for a small and simple meal.
The casket is carried to the nearby Amish cemetery -- or sometimes one shared with Mennonites -- in a special horse-drawn hearse wagon. Other Amish family and friends will follow in a procession, similar to one with motor vehicles. If the cemetery happens to be farther away from where the funeral took place, the body may be transported by car. The grave is dug and filled by fellow Amish; the stone is usually plain and unadorned, featuring only the name, date of birth, date of death and age in months, years and days. Most Amish cemeteries feature stones identical in size to show the equality in their community.
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