Category Archives: funeral homes

funeral homes in Beltsville, MD

Who Will Take Care of the Dead?

After funerals at funeral homes in Beltsville, MD, the deceased are taken to their final resting places, which could be at cemeteries in small, rural communities, where the population is decreasing because younger people move away in search of more opportunity and the elderly people who stay began to die.

When the population of one of these communities declines, the question of who will maintain the cemeteries in the community becomes an issue. Combined with weather challenges, climate change, economic hardships, and the oddities of human behavior, the problem of who will maintain these rural cemeteries becomes even more complex.

Family and church cemeteries are usually maintained through contributions of members or others who have relatives buried there. These are the most likely cemeteries to fall into disrepair when people move and people die. There’s no more money to maintain the cemeteries.

The people who maintain cemeteries are called caretakers. Some live near the cemetery they maintain, while others have a residence on-site. In rural communities, if the caretaker of record dies then no one knows who’s responsible for maintaining the cemeteries. Many times, no one takes over the responsibility and the cemetery gets overgrown and essentially disappears.

For example, in Nebraska, if no one in the community informs the legal authorities that the cemetery has been neglected or is abandoned then local governments don’t have too many options to make sure that the cemetery is maintained. A lot of people don’t know that they can report neglected or abandoned cemeteries to local authorities and some people think it’s disrespectful to the dead to complain about the state of the cemetery. Occasionally, another member of the community will take over upkeep of the cemetery without telling anyone (so that there can be someone to take over after them), but they may move or die leaving it to be neglected and abandoned again.

Rural cemeteries in New York state have their fair share that are need of maintenance, but they also have many that are very well cared for and provide beautiful green spaces for the neighbors around them. Some people love the relative quiet of living near cemeteries, while other people can’t abide the thought of living in near proximately to resting places for the dead.

Research from shows that, in rural areas, homes in zip codes with cemeteries have an approximately 12% lower median price than homes that are in zip codes without cemeteries. However, this decrease in property values is a great concern for rural homeowners. This is because community services, such as education funding, are tied to the value of property, and when a tax-exempt cemetery is neglected or abandoned, then the overall value of all the properties around it decreases, making less funding available for the communities.

Many other rural cemeteries in other states face more challenges. Some cemeteries are maintained by an association, but the associations are seeing donations drop because of weather disasters and poor economic conditions, so the associations are either abandoning the cemeteries or asking relatives of the deceased who are buried there to volunteer to maintain the cemeteries. Some rural cemeteries get neglected or abandoned when property owners give access rights away to businesses or to the state. Once access to the cemetery is cut off, the cemeteries fall into disrepair.

If you want to know more about cemetery upkeep at funeral homes in Beltsville, MD, you can talk with our knowledgeable team at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A. You can visit our funeral home at 4400 Powder Mill Rd., Beltsville, MD, 20705, or you can call us today at (301) 937-1707.

funeral homes in Burtonsville, MD

What is an Ethical Will?

Before funerals at funeral homes in Burtonsville, MD, more and more people are choosing to leave ethical wills to their surviving family members. As people start to contemplate their own mortality, they also start thinking about what they want to leave behind for their families, including their children and grandchildren.

Perhaps they get their medical, financial, legal, and digital affairs squared away so that there are no ambiguities and everything runs as smoothly as it possibly can when someone is facing the end of life, and then dies. That is a tremendous gift to leave family members, because it takes care of the practical parts of the end of life and dying..

However, there are other things that are very important to pass on to future generations. One of these is our moral code – the principles we believe in and practice, to the best of our ability, in our lives.

All the stuff we leave behind will eventually be gone, either because it breaks, it gets old, or it gets depleted. Things are finite and always come to an end. But our moral code, also known as our ethical legacy, is an intangible gift that we can give to our families that is unbreakable, timeless, and is in abundant supply. It may be the most valuable thing that we leave to our families after we die.

We all know of people who lived by an ethical code, but who failed to pass it on to their families, so it died with them. We also see the results of not having an ethical will in successive generations, as scandals, disasters, and even total ruin because they didn’t have an ethical legacy that they were accountable to and responsible for continuing and passing on to future generations.

These examples are a good reason to think about writing an ethical will. While this isn’t a legal document, it how you’ve tried to live and how you would like your family to live after you die. It’s your personal code, which involves relationships and ethics. If you’d liked to see a good example of an ethical will, consider reading the book of Proverbs in the Bible.

So what’s in an ethical will? The framework involves a mission statement that explains the code we’ve tried to follow in living our lives. Included within that are the lessons we’ve learned from our relationships, our experiences, our successes, and our failures. Life is full of lessons. Those can provide us with a perspective on our lives, while they can give guidance to our families that we leave behind when we die.

An ethical will should state what we deem to be the most valuable and important in life. It states what we stand for and what we will not turn from nor compromise on. These are our core values, which we want continued to be followed after our deaths.

Although the term ethical will is new, people have been doing this for a very long time. It may have taken the form of a letter written just before someone died or it may have been a series of conversations in the months, weeks, or days before dying. While not everyone has always done it, many people saw this as the last gift to their families and they made it happen.

If you’d like to know more about ethical wills at funeral homes in Burtonsville, MD, you can talk with our knowledgeable team at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A. You can visit our funeral home at 4400 Powder Mill Rd., Beltsville, MD, 20705, or you can call us today at (301) 937-1707.

funeral homes in Greenbelt, MD

How to Give a Memorable Eulogy

At funerals in funeral homes in Greenbelt, MD, close friends and family members are often chosen to deliver eulogies for a deceased loved one. Eulogies are very special tributes that highlight the deceased’s life and offer insights into their character, temperament, and what made them so special.

Most people can get a little nervous when they’re asked to give a eulogy because they don’t write or speak for a living. Additionally, because they’re grieving too, it can be hard to hold it together emotionally when talking about a loved one who has died, even when the stories and memories are positive. The other thing that can make people anxious about giving eulogies is that they don’t want to disappoint or embarrass the bereaved family.

The most important thing to remember about a eulogy is that it is less about delivery than it is about being heartfelt in remembering the person who has died. It’s telling the story of someone’s life in a very personal way. The eulogy should highlight how the deceased made in a difference in the world while they were here. It should showcase their milestones, their accomplishments, and their relationships, among which yours was a close one.

There are several things that should be included in a eulogy.

The first thing should summarize the milestones in the deceased’s life, including their birth, education, career, and important relationships, including marriage, children, and your own.

A eulogy should also detail the positive attributes of the deceased. You can give insights into what the deceased was like as a person (for example, gentle, humorous, thoughtful, kind, honest, and gracious, and so on).

Most of all, a eulogy should provide good memories of the deceased. These are for the family and will give them a lot of comfort, as well as laughter and happiness, to ease the grief of their loss.

Eulogies often highlight something that the deceased was known for. If the deceased loved literature or history, for example, a memorable eulogy will show how those were integrated into the deceased’s life. Eulogies are not meant to cover every detail of a person’s life.

Don’t try to give the eulogy from memory. Write it out. Start with a draft, give yourself some time, then go back and edit it. Have another person to read it and give you feedback on what changes they would suggest. Let someone read it out loud. This is an easy way to hear what needs to be edited or clarified.

Once you’ve finished writing the eulogy, let someone edit it for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. This can prevent you stumbling in giving the eulogy because of typos, run-on sentences, or incomplete sentences.

Practice giving the eulogy, remembering to speak clearly and in a slow, measured rhythm. Eulogies are generally about 10-15 minutes, so practicing giving it will help you stay within that timeframe. Practicing giving the eulogy can also ease the anxiety of public speaking. The best ways to practice giving a eulogy are in front of a mirror or in front of your family or friends.

Now you’re ready to deliver a thoughtful and memorable eulogy to the deceased that will honor them and give comfort to their family.

If you’d like to know more about giving eulogies at funeral homes in Greenbelt, MD, you can talk with our knowledgeable team at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A. You can visit our funeral home at 4400 Powder Mill Rd., Beltsville, MD, 20705, or you can call us today at (301) 937-1707.

funeral homes in Beltsville, MD

How Funeral Traditions Link Us to Our Past

With funeral traditions at funeral homes in Beltsville, MD, there are links to our past and there is a familiarity that is warm and supportive, which is exactly what a bereaved family and the mourners who join them when a loved one dies needs.

While some people are eschewing funeral traditions and substituting them with alternative rites, the reality is that funeral traditions fulfill the emotional needs of both the family that is grieving and the mourners who are grieving with them. This is an important step in both the grieving process and in moving forward without somebody that you love.

The ceremony, whether it’s a funeral service or a memorial service, to honor a deceased loved one is composed of familiar words, symbols, music, and actions. It is predictable. In fact, it’s the only thing that’s predictable after someone dies. It helps us to know what to do when we don’t know what to do.

In the 1800s, English Prime Minister William Gladstone said, “Show me the manner in which the nation cares for its dead and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender mercies of its people, the respect for the laws of the land, and their loyalty to high ideals.”

Funeral rituals care not only for the dead, but also the living. They have a rich tradition that goes centuries back and generations back, and they are the thread that connects us to those who’ve gone before us.

Some people say they don’t want a funeral or a memorial service. The reality is that the funeral service or the memorial service is less about the person who has died and more about the people they leave behind. It is an essential part of helping a bereaved family to accept the loss of the loved one and take the first step forward toward a life that won’t have that person as a part of it.

Without a funeral service, there is no closure. Funeral rituals, which include communal support, consolation, comfort, and encouragement, give a grieving family the closure they need to emotionally move forward. When those funeral rituals aren’t done, the family of the person who has died, as well as their friends and associates, is left with unfinished emotional business.

This can take years to sort out and to make peace with. This can place a heavy burden on everyone because the funeral rituals were skipped or were replaced with a substitute that did not take care of nor address the emotional needs that a grieving family has.

One of these emotional needs is to be able to say goodbye to a loved one. This practice is embedded in the funeral ritual of visitations. The family gets to spend time alone with their loved one before other mourners come through to pay their respects and to offer consolation. This time gives the family an opportunity to say goodbye. There may be tears. There may be small mementos that are placed in the casket. There may be speeches from the heart, not said were not able to be said when the loved one was alive, but said now as part of the goodbyes.

If you’d like to know more about funeral traditions at funeral homes in Beltsville, MD, you can talk with our knowledgeable team at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A. You can visit our funeral home at 4400 Powder Mill Rd., Beltsville, MD, 20705, or you can call us today at (301) 937-1707.

funeral homes in Burtonsville, MD

Funeral Faux Pas to Avoid

Faux paus happen at funerals at funeral homes in Burtonsville, MD more often than you might think. It’s not that people are intentionally committing them. Instead, they simply don’t understand what is acceptable and unacceptable at funerals.

There are unspoken rules about conduct and dress at funerals. These are in place as a way to show respect to the deceased and to the grieving family. Though you probably won’t be called out for making one of these unintentional errors, it can be embarrassing, seemingly disrespectful, and hurtful to the bereaved family.

One thing that’s considered a faux pas when attending a funeral is to take pictures of the grieving family or their loved one who has died. With the advent of social media, taking pictures at any event is almost second nature.

However, a funeral is the one place where no pictures should be taken. This can be challenging, because funerals often bring together family members who are seldom in one place at the same time. If you choose to take photos, they should be somewhere other than the location of the funeral service. Preferably, family members should arrange to meet somewhere else if everyone wants family pictures taken.

Under no circumstances should you take pictures of the deceased. Although many funerals are recorded or live streamed with an open casket during the funeral service, it is still considered disrespectful to take pictures of someone who is died.

Using a cell phone during the funeral service is another faux pas. While we’re attached to our smartphones seemingly all the time, we should put them aside out of respect for the deceased and the bereaved family while we’re at a funeral service. There is no phone call, text message, or social media post that can’t wait for about an hour.

The optimal thing to do is to leave your cell phone in the car. That way you won’t be tempted to answer a call, answer a text, or post messages on social media. However, because cell phones have become a necessary accessory, if you do bring it into the funeral home, you should put it on vibrate so that it doesn’t ring or ding during the service.

A third faux pas at funerals is wearing bright or sexy clothing. Black is the traditional color that is worn at funerals. If you don’t have anything black, then gray, navy, or dark brown clothing is acceptable.

A funeral is a somber occasion, and wearing bright clothing suggests that the funeral is a casual event to you and that you don’t have respect for the mourning that the family of the deceased is experiencing. Additionally, bright clothing takes the focus off the family and puts it on you, which is also considered disrespectful.

Clothing should be modest because you do not want to draw attention away from the grieving family to yourself. Sleeveless dresses or blouses should be covered by a sweater or jacket. Clothing should not be form-fitting, nor should it be suggestive. Ladies should wear flat shoes without open toes.

However, if you’re attending a funeral where the deceased has a different cultural tradition than that in most American funerals, you should talk with the family member to find out what is appropriate to wear.

If you’d like to know more about funeral etiquette at funeral homes in Burtonsville, MD, you can talk with our knowledgeable team at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A. You can visit our funeral home at 4400 Powder Mill Rd., Beltsville, MD, 20705, or you can call us today at (301) 937-1707.

funeral homes in Greenbelt, MD

Funerals for Military Veterans

For funerals for military veterans at funeral homes in Greenbelt, MD, there are benefits available through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The most basic of these benefits includes free burial in a national cemetery, a gravestone or grave marker (in both national and private cemeteries), a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate.

For burials in national cemeteries, there is no charge for opening and closing the grave or for a grave liner or vault. The grave marker or gravestone will be placed after the funeral at no charge, as well.

Spouses and dependent or disabled children of honorably-discharged military veterans or current military members can also be buried, at no cost, in national cemeteries with a gravestone or grave marker, even if the military veteran is not buried there.

Spouses who lost a military member while on active duty, and then later marry a non-military veteran can claim burial benefits from the previous marriage. Spouses whose marriages to military members or military veterans ended in divorce are not eligible for funeral benefits.

People who are not eligible for veteran funeral benefits include adult children (unless they’re disabled), parents or siblings (even if they’re dependents of the military member or military veteran), any military veteran with a dishonorable discharge, and military members or military veterans who’ve been convicted of capital crimes or subversive activities.

If a military member dies while on active duty, the military will cover the cost of all funeral expenses, including embalming, casket, transportation to the cemetery, burial (if it’s in a national cemetery), and a grave marker or gravestone. Whoever is designated as the next-of-kin is also entitled to a $100,000 death gratuity.

If a military veteran died as a result of a service-related injury, the burial allowance is $2000 if burial is in a national cemetery. If burial is in a private cemetery, the burial allotment is $300.

Military gravestones and grave markers come in several different styles, but if the military member or military veteran is being buried in a national cemetery, then the style of gravestone or grave marker must be consistent with other grave makers and gravestones in the cemetery. The average time for a gravestone or grave marker to be delivered is about three months.

The inscription on the grave marker or gravestone must include – in this order – the name, branch of service, year of birth, and year of death of the military member or military veteran.

Funeral arrangements for burial in a national cemetery can be made only at the time of death, not in advance of death. If military honors are requested, they will be provided by personnel from nearby military installations or by a local veterans’ group of volunteers. Fly-overs are done only for military members who were on active duty when they died.

If a military veteran dies in a VA facility and has no next-of-kin or insufficient assets to pay for a funeral, the VA will pay for all burial costs. If a military member or military veteran is buried in another country (if they died fighting during a war, for instance), the family can get passports at no charge to visit the grave or memorial.

To obtain funeral benefits for a military veteran, give the funeral director a copy of copy of their military separation order (DD-214). If a spouse is claiming military funeral benefits, a copy of the DD-214 and a copy of the marriage certificate should be given to the funeral director.

If you’d like to know more about military veteran funerals at funeral homes in Greenbelt, MD, you can talk with our knowledgeable team at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A. You can visit our funeral home at 4400 Powder Mill Rd., Beltsville, MD, 20705, or you can call us today at (301) 937-1707.

funeral homes in Beltsville, MD

Remember Mothers Who Have Died

After a mother’s funeral at funeral homes in Beltsville, MD, the memories of her will live on and on. We all discovered Mother’s Day early in our childhoods, and our celebration of Mother’s Day began with drawing a picture or putting a little gift together in elementary school to take home to our mothers. And they cherished each one of those rudimentary efforts by proudly displaying them on the refrigerator or on a corkboard in the kitchen or den.

And, even when we grew up and left home, all the mementos of Mother’s Days gone past were carefully tucked away in a box somewhere in the attic or basement, because they were special to our mothers.

Mothers were our first go-to person from the day we were born. Whether we were hungry, we needed a diaper change, or we just needed to be held, mothers were often the first to respond to our cries. They’d spend hours rocking us, holding us, and bonding with us.

As we got a little older, mothers were there to clean up cuts and scrapes, put bandages on, dry our tears, give us advice how not to get hurt again, and then let us go back out to the big, bad world of playing better prepared.

By our teen years, we are ready to stretch our wings a bit and fly, and while our mothers may want to hold us closer because they can see how quickly time flies and how soon we will actually launch out of the nest and into our own places in the world, we want some distance between us and them. The inevitable tension of these years for both our mothers (and our fathers) and us can seem like it will never end for anybody.

But we still love them and they still love us, and we still do neat things for them on Mother’s Days, although as we mature we realize that every day is Mother’s Day and our world would never be right without them in it, even if we’re trying as hard as we can to push them away some.

It is not really until we go out on our own, to college or to work, that we truly appreciate all that our mothers have done and we start moving back toward them as they adult children in a relationship that is still respectful, but has elements of friendship mixed in.

We may have been the caregivers for our mothers in the last years of their lives. Whether they had heart conditions, dementia or mixed dementia, or the debilitating effects of a stroke, they were still our mothers and we loved them. The roles may have reversed, with us becoming the parent and them becoming the child, but we never neglected to show them honor and respect.

This Mother’s Day, instead of thinking about their absence in our lives, we should instead fill our lives up with all the memories our time with them. Play some music your mother loved, Cook or bake her signature dish or the one that was your favorite growing up. Take a long, long walk and just rehearse all the fun times, all the funny times, and all the sweet times you had with your mother and you’ll find Mother’s Day is not as hard as it could be.

If you’d like to learn more ways to remember your mother at funeral homes in Beltsville, MD, you can talk with our knowledgeable team at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A. You can visit our funeral home at 4400 Powder Mill Rd., Beltsville, MD, 20705, or you can call us today at (301) 937-1707.

funeral homes in Adelphi, MD

The Purpose of Pallbearers at Funerals

Pallbearers are always a part of funerals at funeral homes in Adelphi, MD. The word pallbearer comes from the decorative heavy cloth used to drape the casket – it’s known as a pall – and the tradition of having pallbearers is almost as old as funerals themselves.  

Regardless of whether the funeral service is open or closed casket, the role of pallbearers is transport the casket. At the end of the funeral service, pallbearers will carry the casket to the hearse before anyone else leaves the service. Once the hearse arrives at the cemetery where the deceased will be buried, pallbearers then carry the casket from the hearse to the gravesite.   

There are usually six to eight pallbearers. They carry the casket using handles on the sides of the casket. It is not unusual in some cultures for pallbearers to carry the casket on their shoulders.  

Choosing pallbearers for the funeral of a deceased loved one is an important part of the service. When deciding who to use as pallbearers, if your deceased loved one did not designate them in advance, think about the people who were closest to your loved one. These might be family members, long-time friends, or close colleagues. You can also choose to appoint pallbearers from organization that the deceased may have belonged to, such as civic groups or the military. Traditionally, because the casket is heavy, pallbearers have been men, but it’s becoming more common for women to be chosen to be pallbearers as well.  

You can also designate people who were close to a deceased love one as honorary pallbearers. These are people who will walk in front or behind the casket as it is being transported. This is generally done for people who were very close to the deceased, but who are unable, for whatever reason, to actually carry the casket itself.  

Take some time to give thoughtful consideration to the people you choose to be pallbearers for your loved one. Consider those who might have been close, but may not be emotionally up to the task of carrying the casket or even being an honorary pallbearer because they are overcome with grief.  

Being a pallbearer is an honor and a way to demonstrate deep respect for the deceased. Being chosen as a pallbearer also means that you had a special place in the deceased’s life and it gives you an opportunity to participate in the funeral process that will take the deceased to their final resting place.  

Pallbearers need to arrive early at the funeral service. There will be a designated area up front where pallbearers will sit (it’s usually the row across the aisle from where the family is sitting).   

Dress conservatively (dark suit and tie for men or dark suit or dress for women). Wear comfortable shoes, since you may be carrying the casket over uneven ground. The funeral home staff will make sure you know how to carry the casket so it doesn’t get dropped during transportation (always a fear among pallbearers).  

Because pallbearers carry out one of the most important roles in funeral services, solemnity, decorum, and respect are key attributes that each of them must display. If you’ve been chosen as a pallbearer and you don’t think you can do it, either physically or emotionally, have a honest discussion with the family of the deceased and offer to help them in some other way. They chose you because you were close to the deceased, and even though you may not be able to fulfill this role in the funeral process, there are many other ways that you can serve the family.   

If you’d like to understand more about the role of pallbearers at funeral homes in Adelphi, MD, you can talk with our expert staff at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A. You can drop by our funeral home at 4400 Powder Mill Rd., Beltsville, MD, 20705, or you can contact us today at (301) 937-1707.  

Adelphi, MD funeral homes

Death and Funeral Rituals around the World

You will go through certain funeral rituals at Adelphi, MD funeral homes when you’re planning a funeral service. While American funeral rituals may be familiar to most of us, to some degree or another, we don’t often think about or know what kind of death and funeral rituals are done internationally.  

Since the 21st century has brought more globalization into society, Americans often find themselves with the opportunity to travel for pleasure or business all over the world. Being knowledgeable about the cultures of the places we’re visiting is an essential part of traveling, and death and funeral rituals are part of that culture.  

For Jewish funerals, the body must be buried within 24 hours. Males wear white shirts, which they tear as a sign of grief, and they place black ribbons on their jackets. Coffins are always biodegradable and closed. Once the coffin is in the grave and prayers have been said, the mourners take turns shoveling the dirt on to cover the grave.  

In Sweden, mourners wait as long as possible before they bury their dead (legally, the body has to be buried within a month). The psychological reasons behind the Swedes’ delay of burial is debated, but some people speculate that it is an intrinsic fear of death that keeps Swedes from burying their loved ones as long as possible.  

In the Far East, it is common for professional mourners to be hired to help increase the grieving of those who are actually mourning the deceased. These professional mourners sob loudly at will to denote the popularity of the deceased person and to remind everyone how much they will be missed. Not only can professional mourners grieve convincingly, but after a quick biography of the deceased’s life, they can present themselves as if they had known the person their entire lives.  

For Koreans who cremate their loved ones, urns have been mostly replaced with urn jewelry. The cremains are cleaned and transformed into crystals, which are then turned into colorful beads. However, Koreans do not wear these. Instead, they display them in a glass container.  

In Madagascar, the people of Malagasy exhume the bodies of their loved ones every seven years, wrap them in cloth, and then dance with the corpses. Since the smell is not so pleasant, they spray the cloth with wine. While they’re dancing with the corpses, they tells stories of about their loved ones and their families.  

A common trend in Ghana is for deceased people to be buried in a container that represents their lives. Coffins can be shaped like boats for fisherpeople, airplanes for pilots, and even Mercedes for successful corporate executives.  

A death ritual for the Tinguian people in the Philippines is to dress their deceased loved ones in their best clothes, seat them on a chair, and place a lit cigarette between their lipes.  

For the people of Sagada in the Philippines, their funeral ritual is to hang the coffins of the dead on the highest places they can find on the mountains. The reasoning behind this is that the closer a coffin is to the sky, the closer the dearly departed is to heaven.   

If you’d to know more about international funeral rituals from Adelphi, MD funeral homes, you can speak with our knowledgeable team at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A. You can come to our funeral home at 4400 Powder Mill Rd., Beltsville, MD, 20705, or you can contact us today at (301) 937-1707.  

funeral homes in Burtonsville, MD

Funeral Customs in the South

You may see some Southern funeral traditions at funeral homes in Burtonsville, MD, but if you go further down in the American South, you will see customs that have been passed down through generations and remain to this day, even though more and more people living in the South are not originally from there.  

One funeral custom is the South is bringing food to the family of the deceased person. It’s a way of expression condolences without words, but it’s also a practical realization that the family needs to eat for several days and preparing food or going out to eat is the last thing on their minds. Southerners are generous with their food offerings, bringing soups, casseroles, biscuits, fried chicken, and desserts. Doughnuts are also a mainstay in food delivered to a family that’s grieving, since it’s a quick way to fuel with a cup of coffee in the morning while the family is working with the funeral home to make funeral preparations for their loved one. Southerners also bring salads, salad dressing, and juice and soda, ensuring that they cover all the nutritional needs of the family.  

It is also a common funeral custom in the South to have a potluck after the graveside service. Usually it will be hosted by a family member who is not part of the immediate family who has lost their loved one or it will be hosted by the church that the deceased attended. These potlucks put on a spread of quintessential Southern comfort food and they offer an informal gathering where the family can find comfort and support through memories and stories of their loved one.  

New Orleans, the home of all that’s jazz, has a funeral custom known as the “Second Line.” When musicians or other prominent people die, New Orleans native musicians pick up their trumpets, tubas, and trombones to play as they dance. No funeral dirges here, as up-tempo, jazz-laced songs like “When the Saints Go Marching In” are played while the procession follows the funeral hearse and goes to the cemetery or funeral home. The famed Preservation Hall Jazz band has had, in the past few years, ceremonial second lines for David Bowie and Prince.  

Extreme personalization is another Southern funeral custom. People in the South often get buried with unusual things they love. For instance, one man was buried with Mountain Dew, his favorite soda, while another man was buried with what he requested: a watermelon and a six-pack of Budweiser beer.   

Southerners also memorialize their dead in interesting ways. They are very good about keeping graves up and flowers fresh, but it’s not unusual to see lit, live Christmas trees fueled by generators at graves during the holidays.   

There are two graves that get unusual attention each year. At William Faulkner’s grave in Oxford, Mississippi, visitors routinely leave full bottles of whiskey (Faulkner’s adult drink of choice). In Baltimore, Maryland, for 60 years, a mystery person left three roses and a bottle of cognac (Poe was an alcoholic, and his death was related, in part to overconsumption) at the grave of Edgar Allan Poe on his birthday. When the tradition stopped, Baltimore stepped in to resume it.  

If you’re interested in finding out more about funeral customs at funeral homes in Burtonsville, MD, our experienced staff at Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, P.A. can help you. You can visit our funeral home at 4400 Powder Mill Rd., Beltsville, MD, 20705, or you can contact us today at (301) 937-1707.