Everything you need to know about Jehovah’s Witness funerals in the UK
With about 8.5 million Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world, and 140,000 in the UK, many people are invited to attend a funeral that follows these beliefs.
Based strictly and precisely on the Bible, the Jehovah’s Witness Christian denomination is perhaps best known for going door-to-door to hand out their religious material (like The Watchtower).
What to expect at a Jehovah’s Witness funeral in the UK?
One belief that differentiates them from other Christian beliefs, is that the Witnesses, as they’re called, consider God to be one person, rather than a trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jehovah’s Witnesses also abstain from birthdays, holidays like Easter and Christmas, voting, gambling, and smoking.
In line with this thinking, Witnesses’ funerals tend not to act as ‘celebrations’ of the life of the deceased (as is becoming more common in other religious and cultural belief systems). A Jehovah’s Witness funeral is likely to be a minimal occasion, and it’s unlikely there will be a large wake or funeral reception afterwards.
One more thing to note: you might hear yourself being referred to as a “Non-Witness” at a funeral – this is simply what those in the faith call those who are not.
Where do Jehovah’s Witnesses have funerals?
The most common place for a Jehovah’s Witness funeral in the UK is at a Kingdom Hall, another place of Jehovah’s Witness worship, or a local funeral home. As the Jehovah’s Witness community is often very close-knit, the service is likely to be attended by many people who knew the deceased well, and led by a male elder from within that group.
What are Jehovah’s Witnesses beliefs on death and dying?
Unlike, for example, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not base their religion around the idea of an afterlife – they believe that the soul dies at the same time as the body. But they do, though, share the idea of a resurrection that will come for worthy disciples.
This belief also means that there is often not a great amount of mourning or grief at a Jehovah’s Witness funeral – because they believe the deceased will one day be resurrected into a ‘paradise on Earth’.
Planning a Jehovah’s Witness funeral in the UK
Many Jehovah’s Witness funerals are planned within the local community, amongst religious elders and organisers. Fenix has a huge amount of experience planning funerals for people of every faith, and whether you need a full funeral service planned, or just some advice on flowers or venues, our personal advisers can offer you dependable advice and peace of mind.
What’s the length and order for a Jehovah’s Witness funeral in the UK?
Given their beliefs regarding death, a Jehovah’s Witness funeral is often relatively short. The service will feature readings from the Bible relevant to death and resurrection, acting as a reminder for the attendees of some of the tenets of their belief system. The funeral prayers for the dead are also drawn directly from the Bible, and will be recognisable to all the Witnesses in attendance.
In total, the service is likely to last something like 15-30 minutes. You may be invited to a modest meal with the family afterwards, but attending that is not seen as mandatory.
Can Jehovah’s Witnesses be cremated in the UK?
Yes they can – and it’s common. As their belief system teaches that their body and soul will be resurrected regardless of what state they’re in, they don’t stipulate against cremation. Just as Jesus was resurrected after crucifixion, so they believe that their bodies will be resurrected whole.
If you’re planning a Jehovah’s Witness funeral in the UK, it might be useful to remember that cremation is often cheaper than burial. But regardless of what you or your loved ones are planning, Fenix can help. We’ve been helping plan funerals for many years, and our personal advisers can help you no matter how big, small, private or public the event you have in mind.
What to wear at a Jehovah’s Witness funeral in the UK?
There are many overlaps between what to wear for a Jehovah’s Witness funeral and other religions. Generally speaking, formal wear is best, and darker colours are common. You could wear a suit and tie, or dresses/skirts that are not too revealing. Overall, simplicity and restraint is preferred, so don’t wear anything too ostentatious or flashy – including keeping jewellery to a minimum.
It's also a good idea not to take photos during the service. If you can, check with someone close to the deceased, or someone who’s helping at the funeral venue, to ask what is permitted. If you’re planning a Jehovah’s Witness funeral, it can be very useful to include on an invite or via personal message what the expectations on clothing might be, especially for non-Witnesses.
Should I send flowers to a Jehovah’s Witness funeral?
As with the issue of clothing, flowers are permitted at a Jehovah’s Witness funerals, but you will probably not see large or very colourful bouquets. Instead, choose something small and subtle.
If you’re arranging a Jehovah’s Witness funeral, Fenix can help you find a perfect florist in your area to provide flowers. We’ve been working with suppliers and experts like this all over the country for years, and we know exactly what’s needed, no matter what the occasion.
An alternative to flowers is food – it’s not uncommon for gifts of food to be presented to the deceased’s loved ones.