Funeral traditions and practices vary widely across different cultures and religions. At Alex Gow Funerals, we understand the importance of respecting these varied traditions to honour the deceased and provide comfort to grieving families. With our long family history serving the Brisbane community, we have built strong knowledge of diverse religious and cultural practices related to death. In this article, we examine some key religious traditions and how Alex Gow Funerals supports families in observing meaningful customs.
As one of the dominant religions in Australia, Christian funeral traditions are very common in our work at Alex Gow Funerals. Services usually involve an opportunity for family and friends to pay their respects to the deceased, with the body presented respectfully in an open or closed casket. This is followed by prayers, scripture readings or a sermon led by a clergy member from the deceased’s church or faith community. There is also usually a celebration of the deceased person’s life, including reflections on their character and achievements from loved ones.
Burial rituals like committing the body to the ground by lowering the casket into the grave are also significant, as it allows family and friends a chance to say a final goodbye. At Alex Gow Funerals, we ensure Christian ceremonies are held respectfully according to the specific denominational practices of faiths such as Catholicism, Anglicanism, or other Protestant traditions. This includes facilitating rituals such as sprinkling holy water on the casket for Catholics or the formal committal prayer for Anglicans. By understanding the nuances of different Christian denominations, we aim to honour the deceased’s faith and customs during what can be a difficult time for loved ones.
Traditions surrounding death in the Jewish faith place great importance on a swift, timely burial, usually to be carried out within 24 hours of passing. This emphasis comes from the Jewish belief that the soul must make a swift departure from the physical body. As such, the body is never left unattended from the time of death until burial. Cremation is typically not practised either, and if required, ashes are never scattered or kept at home after cremation but rather interred.
At Alex Gow Funerals, we deeply understand and respect these important Jewish customs. We work diligently to facilitate burial within a 24-hour timeframe, ensuring the utmost respect and care for the deceased. All of our staff receive specialised training on the proper handling and preparation of the body according to Jewish law, which includes a respectful washing and then shrouding entirely in a plain white cloth before placement in a basic, untreated pine casket. With over a century of experience, families can trust we will handle all Jewish tradition arrangements with sensitivity and respect during this difficult time.
In the Islamic faith, burial of the deceased is to occur as swiftly as possible once life has passed, ideally taking place before sunset on the day of death. This swift burial requirement stems from the Muslim belief in the preservation of the body and the final resurrection. As such, cremation is strictly forbidden. The body also must be washed and shrouded completely in a plain white cloth by members of the same gender, as an act of purification and respect.
At Alex Gow Funerals, we make every effort to thoughtfully honour these important Muslim funeral rites and traditions. Our team is specially trained to work with the deceased’s family and manage the entire process according to their wishes and cultural practices. This includes performing the ritual washing, then securely shrouding the body prior to a timely transferral to a Muslim cemetery burial area. We ensure burial is in a simple grave facing Mecca, as required. Through open communication with Muslim community leaders and knowledgeable staff, we aim to sensitively guide families through these important religious customs.
In Buddhist philosophy, funeral traditions aim to aid in releasing attachment to this current life. For adherents of this faith, death marks the transition to the next stage of an endless cycle of rebirth. As such, funeral rites emphasise meditations and rituals that help ease this transition for both the deceased and mourners. Cremation, not burial, is typically the standard and preferred practice.
At Alex Gow Funerals, we deeply respect these Buddhist practices. We seek guidance from local monks and community leaders, we conduct respectful ceremonies that allow time for family and clergy to make meaningful offerings and recite scriptures, sutras, or chants around the deceased. This important time of prayer and contemplation helps to purge memories from this life. Once complete, we carefully facilitate cremation of the body according to Buddhist doctrine. Our team understands the cultural and spiritual significance of cremation in the Buddhist faith tradition. Families can feel assured we will treat their loved one, and key funeral customs, with the utmost dignity and respect.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have their own distinct cultural practices and ceremonies surrounding death that play an important role in healing for families and communities. In these traditions, there is typically a wake held near the body of the deceased where storytelling, dance, song, and other performance arts take place to honour their life. Painting the body with natural ochre dyes before burial is also common. Sacred belongings, tools, and art may be placed in the grave to accompany the deceased on their next journey.
At Alex Gow Funerals, we recognize the deep significance of respecting Indigenous customs. We work closely with local Native Title holders, community elders and cultural advisors to ensure proper protocols are followed for each Nation or language group. This includes facilitating traditional mourning wakes and burial ceremonies in the country. By taking the time to understand varied Australian Indigenous perspectives on death, we aim to provide culturally appropriate support that honours cultural heritage and brings meaningful closure.
At Alex Gow Funerals, as a family-owned business that has been serving the Brisbane community for over 180 years, we understand that the cultural and religious diversity of our region is continually growing and evolving. As Brisbane and South East Queensland have become home to people of all faiths, cultures, and backgrounds, we recognise that end of life practices and funeral traditions are as diverse as the communities themselves.
Our long history in the funeral industry has provided us with extensive experience in working sensitively with families from all walks of life to plan meaningful services that honour important cultural and spiritual rituals. Whether it be Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Indigenous culture, or other faiths, we strive to accommodate varied religious and traditional needs.
We will take the time to understand your family’s specific beliefs and practices to ensure they are respectfully incorporated. Our highly trained staff are committed to guiding families with cultural understanding and care. Contact us at (07) 3851 7800 to discuss arranging a service that respects and understands your family’s beliefs and practices.