The Buddhist way of life teaches that death is a natural part of the life
cycle and that it is necessary for a person who is dying to mentally prepare
for the next incarnation. The Buddha did not leave specific instructions
funeral services and so Buddhist funeral traditions can be flexible. However, there are
some traditions that Buddhist families will generally follow after a death
and at the funeral home.
Buddhist families prefer that the dying process take place in a calm, peaceful
setting. When the individual dies, family members are expected to cleanse
the body. The decedent is dressed in everyday clothes, rather than garments
for special occasions. Some Buddhist families prefer that the body be
left in place for at least four hours before being moved to a funeral
home. However, if the decedent wanted to donate his or her corneas or
organs, then the proper authorities should be notified shortly after the
death. Some Buddhist families prefer to avoid embalming when local regulations
will permit this.
If a visitation or wake will be held, it is appropriate for the family
to choose a simple casket and to arrange the altar with candles, incense,
and other offerings. The decedent’s portrait and an image of the
Buddha may be displayed.
The family may choose to have a teacher or other member of the Buddhist
community perform chants. If this is not possible, then the family may
perform chants or set up an audio recording of chanting. The
chants should be focused on life’s impermanence and the transference of merit. It is traditional, though not required,
for a Buddhist to be cremated. Cremation services follow the precedent
established by the Buddha. However, some families may prefer burial. During
all of the services, it is expected that the family and other mourners
wear white. Head coverings should be removed during chanting or other rites.
At Chapel of the Chimes Oakland, your family will find compassionate and
culturally sensitive funeral services in Oakland. Our funeral home works
closely with each family to ensure that the funeral or cremation services
are an appropriately personalized celebration of life. Call (510) 654-0123
to speak with a funeral director.