My parish tradition is that a meal is served after the funeral (usually in the parish hall, sometimes at someones home, or restaurant). It's just a chance to let the family get support from friends and family, for stories and memories to be talked about. However, even so, it was originally meant to bring comfort to the mourning family, however, today it is just an added burden and cost. No longer do we bring food to the distressed family who are too grieved to cook for themselves. No, now they have to feed the public that comes to the funeral. That's just another thing for them to worry about. I think it's all messed up. If you can't cook for 50, you have to hire a caterer, or book a room in a restaurant...it's all extra work and expense for the family.
Anyway, perhaps the "wake" can be slightly jolly, reminiscing about the person, telling stories, etc., however, the funeral in my opinion, should be free of frivolity.
So many times it seems people don't even notice the person lying in the coffin, as they tell jokes, gossip and talk about mundane daily work issues, while standing right next to the casket. Just seems out of place.
When my uncle was passing away from a stroke, I read up for the first time on Orthodox funerals, etc. It was my first brush with death since my grandfather died when I was a small child.
I think it would be great to put all the facts in one location so the family that is stressed, worried, and grieving doesn't have to "search" on what to do and how to do it.
I sat with my uncle and read Psalms to him. I had read that there's a particular prayer to be read at the parting of the soul and the body (I can't remember at the moment which one), but, I had that page marked and when the bells started going off, and lights were blinking and the buzzers screaming, and the room filled with medical personnel because he was "coding" I grabbed his hand and while squeezing it read from the book. I don't know if it made any difference to him, but, IF it even may have, I was going to do it. Anything to help him.
We, my mom and I, also spent the night with him in church and read all but the last page of the Psalter. I was faltering over the words, when people began arriving in the morning for the funeral and a man gently came up to me and took the Psalter and candle from my hands and read the end in a loud booming and clear voice.
It's all important. The panachida's as well. On day 3, 9, 40.
Knowing all these things would be so helpful to the family that is going out of their minds with grief.
After my uncle died, I whipped up a brochure for our church, explaining the basics. It's just too hard to do "research" when you can't even remember your own name.
I'll have to take a look at this book.