How to Write a Funeral Scene


Part One

  1. Before you start the scene, you must decide on a few important things.
  2. »A.First, choose whether it is a religious or civil funeral. But here are a few things that happened at both.

I.   Right before service, close family gather at the house while others gather at the funeral venue.

II.        The hearse arrives at the house and they load up any flowers or gifts people have brought to the house.
III.     The family usually follows the hearse in funeral cars. Sometimes they are able to run red lights, too.

Example 1:   Everyone came. Everyone, including Mike Donner, Emilia’s very distance son. He moved across the country to get away from his mother, for five years to be exact, but it wasn’t until today that he decided to visit. Sadly this is the day of Emilia’s funeral. Minutes later a hearse and three limos arrived at the house. The family filed into the vehicles while the drivers loaded the hearse with the numerous roses. Emilia loved roses; they were red, she loved anything red.


    »B. Next, consider what point of view are you using? First or Third person?

I.      For first person tell the story through the eyes, mind, and feelings of the main character.
II.   Focus less on the funeral and more on the emotions the protagonist would be feeling at that moment.

III.    Mention a sentence or two about the ongoing of the funeral, and then tangent off into the protagonist’s mind and feelings, explaining the sadness (Or happiness, maybe your character is an asshole).

Example 2:   (No Example Added- but you can add one for your scene)


    »C.Do the reverse if you are doing the story in third person.

I.          Focus on the gloomy occasion, placing a few sentences about the character’s emotions every paragraph or two.

II.         Consider the type of scene it is; make sure the mood of the scene is sad, maybe depressing, but not disturbing or creepy?

Example 3:   The family arrived at the funeral location where the service would take place. The atmosphere not only looked gloomy but felt gloomy, even for Mike. Everywhere he looked there were no smiles; it reminded him of his tenth birthday… depressing. I hate this, why did she have to die? Mike thought momentarily before he took his seat at the front.

Even the seats weren’t very comfortable. Mike had to re-position his rear end a few times before he could sit properly. And to top it all off, the chairs were Emilia’s favorite color: red. A bloodstained red.


Part Two

  1. Describe the setting by building the scene with useful details.
  2. »A.What is the weather like? Cold, snowing, warm?

I. Weather affects the people attending. And since they can’t linger outside, they would have to all cram inside.

II. Is there a big turnout? Does it feel stuffy or claustrophobic inside?

Example 4:   But what was there really to complain about/ It was a sunny day, with birds chirping and flowers blooming. His mother would have given anything to see this day.

Besides, all of her sewing buddies, church friends, former high school classmates and cousins came to the funeral, making the air a little too stuffy. Mike’s mother was popular in that way. For reasons he’d never understand.


    »B.What building is it located in? A church? A hotel? This depends on whether the family is religious or not. Next, describe the inside.

I. In the funeral home are rows of chairs, with a front row of fancier chairs for the immediate family. In front of the chairs is an open space and then the casket is displayed. Note if the casket is open or closed?

II. Most funerals will have two large candles on wooden pillars on either side of the casket. Above the casket (or on it if the casket is closed) is usually a flower arrangement called a casket spray.

III. Inside there will be music, hymns at a religious funeral or the deceased’s favorite music (can be anything from classical, rock, television).


IV. Religious funerals are more of a church service, civil funerals have people reading poems, appropriate extracts of literature, or people may simply get up and tell stories of what that person was like.

Example 5:   The moment he tuned out the chattering and noise, Mike noticed something right in front of him. What here came he to see…. the casket. Good grief it was an open casket. Apparently he would be able to see his mother one last time. Something he never really wanted to do, considering they weren’t very close.

On each side of the casket sat two large candles. Both were, of course, red in color. Above the casket were the roses brought from the house. And in the background, faintly playing, was a Christmas song Emilia used to listen to every Wednesday. Mike hated that song. His birthday happened to land on Christmas, and, at the age of ten, the worse memory came with it. Mike had invited his close friends to attend his birthday party, some of them were older than him by eight years. One of the coolest kids on the block agreed to stop by, too. Mike, being a young kid that he was, felt so happy to have someone he looked up to come see him on his birthday, especially because he didn’t have a father or a brother. Though things changed that day. Ever since that sad, sad day Mike never was able to forgive his mother nor the older kid that came to his birthday to supposedly support him.



Part Three

  1. Once the viewing/speeches/services are over, everyone is dismissed.
  2. »A.The procession would start and all friends and family follow the hearse to the cemetery.

I. The funeral director and another funeral attendant would close the casket. From there, the casket would be brought out of the funeral home by pallbearers (people who are chosen by the family to help carry the casket) and into the hearse. Sometimes the coffin is carried on the shoulders; sometimes it is carried by the handles.

II. When there, the casket would be carried out of the hearse by the pallbearers, laid on rails and the casket is supported on belts so it can be lowered into the ground.

Example 7:   Mike decided not to see his mother one last time. He didn’t want to “accidentally” spit on her. His anger for her was well known. Some people even thought he murdered her at first, but the evidence proved otherwise and the real culprit was locked behind bars for a long time.

The casket was closed, and pallbearers carried it on their shoulder to the hearse. Friends and family followed. Mike reluctantly joined them.

As the casket lowered into the ground, many tears were shed. Mike even had a tear shed, but it honestly wasn’t sadness. It was happiness. Mike Donner believed he had every right to hate his mother. He knew she didn’t leave him any fortune and he knew she hated his guts just as much as he hated hers. For Mike to have attend this funeral was a miracle in and of itself. Truly, he wanted closure but he’d never admit that to himself.


    »B.Then a brief graveside ceremony would start.

I. The pastor or someone will say final words and maybe even a final prayer. When that is done, the people would leave and the funeral staff would stay and make sure that the casket is lowered by the cemetery staff.

II. The family usually stays last and the person closest to the deceased stays until the funeral home people leave after covering up the grave.

Example 8: 
  Mike happened to be the last to stay. Why? No one knows.
“Hey Mike, you coming to the dinner?” A man’s voice said.
Mike looked up to see who it was and immediately furry boiled over inside him. “You!” Mike shouted, attacking the man and pinning him down on the ground.
“Help! Help!” the man shouted, trying to escape Mike’s hold.
“I hate you. Why are you even here?” Mike knew the man’s face. It was the coolest kid on the block. Well, maybe not anymore, but the kid who came to Mike’s tenth birthday party a long, long time ago. “Why did you even show your face around here, hmm?”

The man on the ground, named Gregg, finally spoke to Mike. “Look man, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You slept with my mother that Christmas day, on my birthday. I saw you! Don’t deny it!” Mike shouted, anger clouding his eyes.
“Dude, I didn’t do it. I swear.”
“Prove it.” Mike released the man and stood from the ground.
“—Because I did it. I slept with your mother.” Another voice from behind Mike said.
Mike and Gregg looked to see who the voice was coming from.
“Dad?” Mike said. “Impossible. I saw Gregg in the bed with my mom twenty years ago.”
“Your friend left early that day. He felt sick from some kind of flu. I told him that I’ll tell you he was leaving, but I forgot. I’m sorry Mike. That day I snuck in through the back door, entered your mother’s room and we, well you know.”
“So that head I saw was yours?” Mike said, now releasing his breath.
“Yes. That head was mine, and so was that foot.”
Gregg slowly but surely left the scene as Mike and his father spoke about that Christmas night. The night that was the main reason for Mike’s anger for his mother for twenty years.


    »C.Now is the time to wrap it all up

    I. After the funeral is over friends and family will gather for a meal to honor the deceased.

    II. And/or a lovely dinner is held for the family to pass on condolences to each other and to remember the deceased.


Example 10:  

       At the dinner, Mike’s father confessed everything to his son. A long, overdue confession that could potentially rekindle their relationship.


“So why didn’t you and mom ever get back together if that night was so intense?”

“Well, son, when you walked in on us we knew we were in trouble. I packed a few things and left. I was afraid. You seemed so upset.”

“That’s because I didn’t know it was you, dad. I thought it was Gregg sleeping with my mom.”

“Well, I left that day and I never returned. I made sure to leave her a token of me to remember me by. It was a bright red scarf.”

“That’s probably why she loved red so much. She always wore that scarf. She loved you dad.”

“Yep, Emilia was beautiful that’s for sure. And together we don’t make no ugly babies, Mike.”

Mike grinned. “But, wait a second. If you didn’t kill mom, Gregg didn’t kill mom and I didn’t kill mom, then who did? Who was the man the police said they caught?”

“Are you sure you want to know?”

“Yes, I’m sure. Spit it out!”

“Your mother, before she met me, had a very unusual life. She made money dancing for strange men at the club. She stopped that ever since she had you but when you moved away and she didn’t have a second income coming in, she decided she needed another job to make ends meet. Anyways, for the past year she’s been dancing again. Men would call her the cougar because she isn’t as young as she used to be. I offered her some cash but your mother was too proud to take it. Well, one day when she was dancing she got drunk and went a little too far with one of the men. A few weeks later she found out she was pregnant. She wanted to keep the baby but the man found out. He told her to get an abortion because it could ruin his reputation and he was a married  man. But your mom didn’t care. With you out of the house and no man in her life, she felt lonely and thought the baby was a miracle considering her age.”

“What happened.”

“You know how she died. He murdered he in her home, using my red scarf that I gave her. The nerve of some people. The police thought it was me, at first, but I had a perfect alibI. I told them who is might be and the ended up finding the culprit.”

“Oh my god. So you’re telling me that this wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t move out?”

“I’m not saying that, son, but let’s face it. If you weren’t so angry with your mother and assuming she slept with your friend twenty years ago, then maybe, just maybe she would still be alive. But also you should consider this. If she never died, you would have never found out the truth. Just remember, Mike, things aren’t always what they seem at first glance. Sometimes, you got to look closer.” Mike’s  father handed his son the red scarf.

“Keep this as a reminder of those wise words.”

And with those final words, Mike Donner, the man who carried a heavy heart for twenty years against the one person who loved him more than anyone had ever loved him, was now crying tears of sadness for her. His mother Emilia wasn’t a lowlife, she was a true angel. Something Mike had every reason to be proud of.


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8 thoughts on “How to Write a Funeral Scene

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