Monday, February 17, 2014


Marilyn spoke of the pictures she didn't take in comments of a previous post regarding someone's viewing which I really appreciate her not taking pictures.  In your questions, someone asked how do we deal when a family member passes away.

Our personal belief and Amish belief is that: "It is God's will." The person has done their time on earth and it is now their time to go to the Lord.  We cry, are sad, and know we will miss them. 

When someone passes, it is usually in our home.  We call the funeral parlor who will come, take the deceased person to prepare them.  Word travels fast among Old Order Mennonite.  You call one person and it seems everyone knows shortly.  Old Order Mennonite come to our home, take over our chores, prepare our meals, prepare our house and more. 

The men make our own coffins.  Most men make their family coffins, but there are times when either do to age, health or other situations where they can't.  If that happens other men take over and make it.  David has made coffins for our family and also for other people that couldn't make theirs.  Even if they can't make the whole coffin, people sometimes would like to at least nail a nail in the coffin just to have part in it.  Michael and Edward help David make coffins.  The hardest David had to make was his grandmother's when she passed.  Michael and David made it.  That was before Edward joined our home.  Our coffins are wider from the waste up and narrower from the waste down.

The coffin is laid usually on saw horses in the living room. Saw horses are covered with black covering, When the body returns from funeral parlor, it is dressed by the lady (wife, daughter, etc.) and laid in the coffin.  From that time until the funeral, people are sitting by the coffin twenty-four hours a day.  Old Order Mennonite decide who will stay what hours, so the family can  meet the people, get rest and more.  The Bishop comes to work out, with the family, the date and time of the funeral. 

We do not usually have a set viewing time like that one in the paper did.  Viewing time is from day break into the evening with no set time.  People come and go. 

Above, we and the Amish are alike, but from here we change.  Also, in our area, Amish will help with chores, prepare meals, help prepare the house right along with the Old Order Mennonite.  They will come to our funeral and we will go to theirs.  Some areas do not allow this, but ours does.  Elmer and Anna were at David's Father's house when his grandmother passed.  Also, they came to the funeral.

On the morning of the funeral, the Bishop comes to hold a service in our house just for the family and close friends.  Then the body is put on a horse pulled or automobile hearse.  All the buggies with the people coming to the funeral line up behind and we go to the meetings (church).  Funeral is held in the meetings.  After meetings, we raise the lid of the coffin one last time so we can file buy and see the person for the last time. 

From the church (the Amish from the house) line up and file to the cemetery.  At the cemetery, the grave is already dug. All year around the grave is dug when we arrive there by some of the men.  The coffin is laid on the top of the grave.  Bishop says prayers and some words about the person.  He ends with the Lord's Prayer.  Then the body is lowered into the grave.  As we walk by the grave we get a hand fill of dirt and toss in on the coffin.  It is for us to remember: "Remember man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return."

The Amish and Old Order Mennonite do not bury their people in public cemeteries.  We and the Amish have our own cemeteries.  Sometimes the cemeteries are next our meetings.  Or, it might be like the Amish, someone from our meetings or church donates the land where we have the cemetery.  Both the Amish and Old Order Mennonites do have headstones.  On the headstone is the person's name, date of birth and death.  They are plain headstones, nothing fancy.

After the funeral, we go back to the people's home or other family or friend's home for a dinner, same as the Amish.  It is usually a large dinner.  Many times we like to think of the good and happy times of the person that passed, not the illness or tragic of their death.  I know David's Father stood at the door and told us all to leave our tears outside of the house.  We had cried them.  Now was the time to remember her in laughter and joy.  It was quiet when we first got inside, then David's Father told a story of something funny she did.  We all laughed and others started telling funny or kind things she did.  All of us had a cheerful time, thinking of her. 

I hope this answers your questions regarding our funerals.  We do not have flowers at our homes, meetings or graves.  The Amish don't either.  Maybe Elmer would like to add something to this. 

Be With God,



New York State Of Mind said...

Good Morning Everyone,

Hope you enjoy Jean's post this morning.

It is -3 outside when I just walked Pierre this morning.


Countryside Reflections said...

Thank you for posting this Jean, it's really interesting. It must be so hard to make a coffin for a family member. In a way it's probably comforting when it's for an elderly person, but for a child or someone young, it must be really hard.

Is the wooden casket just placed in the ground without a vault or any protection around it? Just wondering because I was told that years ago before our cemeteries used vaults, when the casket eventually rotted away, the ground sunk in a little and that's what caused the grave stones to fall forward, like what you see in an old cemetery.


New York State Of Mind said...

Hi Doreen,

You have some very interesting questions. I will see that Jean gets them and answers them. In our old cemeteteries, many of the grave stones have fallen forward or sunk a bit.


Melissa M. said...

I appreciate that Jean shared this part of her culture. I can't say I "enjoyed" this post but death is inevitable when there's life, right?

New York State Of Mind said...

Hello Melissa M.

Thank you for your comment. It is not an "enjoyed" subject, but people have asked questions and Jean answered them. Most of her posts are more enjoyable that this.