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M.G. Cox wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have a couple quick questions:

  • In a "normal" death, (meaning, a death by natural causes), what are the Catholic traditions surrounding grief and burial?

I know there's something called a "candlelight vigil", but I am not sure what that entails, or what purpose it serves.

  • If a member of the Catholic Church committed suicide, would that person's family be permitted to lay the person to rest on consecrated church grounds?
    I've heard "no"; but am not sure if this is true.
  • If a member of the Catholic Church committed suicide, would the other elements of grief, such as the vigil I mentioned above or a funeral Mass, still take place?

M.G.

  { In a normal death and a suicide, what are the Catholic traditions surrounding grief and burial? }

Mike replied:

Dear M.G.,

Thanks for the question.

This posting should answer your last two questions:

Your first question was:

  • In a "normal" death, (meaning, a death by natural causes), what are the Catholic traditions surrounding grief and burial?

The Catholic traditions surrounding grief and burial have there foundation in the Christian funeral. You can read more about this from portion of the Catechism of the Catholic Church titled:

Christian Funerals

  • Why do we celebrate the funeral rites?

In the funeral rites we:

  • pray for the deceased, entrusting them to God's mercy and care.
  • We honor the body.
  • We comfort the living in their grief.
  • We celebrate the funeral rites not only for the lovingly departed but also for those living at the time of their grief.

Kudos to St. Jude Catholic Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana who helped with this last answer.
They have a pretty good Christian funeral page on their site.

As I researched your question, I noticed that various Catholic dioceses have different sets of guidelines.

This one is from the Archdiocese of Boston. The left hand navigation on this page will give you
greater or lesser detail in various areas of interest.

Hope this helps,

Mike

Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
Suggestions for this web page and the web site can be sent to Mike Humphrey
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