An Amish funeral is shorter than a normal Amish church service. It lasts about an hour and a half. Another difference is that there is no singing at all. After the service, everyone has the chance to file past the coffin to view the body. The close friends and relatives will stay for the burial, but the rest of the people will leave; and this will be their last chance to view the body.
The coffin is put in a special hearse buggy. Everyone who wants to go to the graveyard to the burial gets into their buggies. Earlier in the day, assigned men called hostlers will have numbered the buggies in order of priority: earlier numbers are close relatives, and later numbers are friends and neighbors. The hearse buggy leads the way, and slowly, all the rest of the buggies get into line and follow. I remember as a little girl, we were allowed to stop our school work and go to the windows to watch funeral processions go past.
At the graveyard, the coffin is reopened one last time, and everyone present files past. The immediate family is the last to view the body. Sometimes the family will cry softly, but no one ever wails loudly. That would be considered improper.
After the coffin is closed, it is gently lowered with ropes. Nobody talks. Men take turns shoveling the dirt onto the coffin. They shovel slowly and reverently. Sometimes close relatives or family members will take a turn with the shovel, to show respect for the departed one.
After the hole is filled with dirt, everyone leaves quietly. Close friends and family will be invited to the house for a meal. Afterwards the church people will help clear away the benches and put the house back to rights.
For months afterwards, the family will stay home Sunday afternoons to receive the many visitors who will come. If a widow is left, she will wear black every time she goes away, for a whole year. A woman whose brother or sister died will wear black on Sundays for six months.
NOTICE: One of my readers mentioned that what I write about the Amish does not always apply to Amish in every community of the United States. That is very true. I live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and therefore know more about Lancaster County Amish. Amish in different communities do practice things differently.
Most times before I post an article, I will read it to my mom, who used to be Amish, just to make sure that what I write is accurate. Sometimes I will even call my Amish aunt or ask my Amish grandma to make sure what I’m writing is correct. I welcome any Lancaster County readers to clarify any mistakes in my comments section. My goal is to give an accurate representation of Lancaster Amish culture!