How long does a funeral last?

A funeral can last anywhere from 15 minutes to a couple of hours, depending on where it is taking place and the religion of the deceased.

More contemporary or individualised funerals, such as humanist services, have more flexibility in terms of length than traditional religious funerals, which may last for a couple of hours. In the UK the average service lasts for around an hour.

How long does a funeral last at a crematorium?

Most cremation services last between half an hour and 45 minutes – shorter than a traditional burial. This is because burials involve the committal of the body into the ground as well as a traditional service, often doubling the amount of time spent. By contrast, crematoriums tend to wait until the mourners have left before cremating the coffin unless mourners want to witness it for religious or other reasons.

Mourners may wish to watch to cremation process, which generally lasts around two hours but can be as short as one hour or as long as five. This practice, though not standard, is relatively common among people belonging to faiths that traditionally cremate their dead, such as Hinduism or Buddhism, or those who desire the closure of seeing the process through until the end. Loved ones also have the option of pressing the button to begin the cremation themselves.

 people sitting in the pews of a church while a funeral takes place
People sitting in the pews of a church while a funeral takes place

How long does a Catholic funeral last?

A Catholic funeral service that includes a Requiem Mass, in which mourners take Holy Communion, may last as long as an hour and a half. If a graveside service is included it may be two hours or even more from start to finish. A Funeral Outside Mass will usually be much shorter, an hour or so if there is a graveside service.

Those attending Catholic funerals should expect a burial of some kind to take place due to the traditional belief that the body must be kept together. This may be a classic burial or the interment of ashes in the ground or in a columbarium and mourners should factor in the time this takes.

How long does a Muslim funeral last?

A traditional Muslim funeral service lasts between half an hour and an hour. Cremation is prohibited in Islam thanks to beliefs that the body must not be desecrated after death, so expect there to be a burial service in addition to the ceremony. The funeral may then extend to an hour and a half or so.

How long does a funeral last with a reception service?

A reception service generally takes two or more hours but there is not usually a strict time period, particularly if it is being held at the home of a bereaved family member.

Guests don’t usually have to stay for the duration of a funeral reception – the hosts (generally the family of the deceased) will stay throughout but most mourners come and go unless they are staying for support. You should set aside several hours if a funeral service is directly followed by a reception and you want to be there for the whole time.

How long does a funeral last – how to find out

If you are attending a funeral and aren’t sure how long the service will go on for, ask the person or people arranging it, or the funeral celebrant to clarify. Failing that, check the funeral service schedule.

Funeral service schedules are generally given out as you enter the building where the funeral is taking place. Although precise times are rarely, if ever, listed on the schedule, you will be able to work out the length by how many speeches and readings have been planned.

Should you need to leave during a funeral, be courteous and inform the people arranging it. Leaving during the service itself may be necessary and if this is the case, wait for the most appropriate moment and leave quietly without disrupting anyone.

If you must leave early during the reception, stay long enough to pay your respects and offer condolences to the family of the deceased. Have a single drink with them and thank them before leaving.

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