made of sea and sunlight (hagar_972) wrote in little_details,
made of sea and sunlight

Secular funeral in rural present-day Maine

Setting: contemporary (2009), northern Maine, fictional town of ~20k people. The town is semi-rural: it has a fairly tiny center that mostly behave middle-class-ish, and then a wide rural sprawl of farms and drifters.

This town has only one church. This church functions as the power base for hate activities against a minority that lives in this town. (Supernatural minority. If you think you recognize the fandom, you probably do.) Many (if not most) families of this minority group are organized together as a distinct sub-culture with its own traditions. They have their own defense organization, which is occasionally... overzealous.

Edit: The town's size, location and single-church situation are show canon and moreover, they're major plot points. Yes, I know they're unrealistic; yes, I did my research on this; however, I'm stuck with it - changing any of those things would destabilize the show's world too much. Attacking those points is not helpful. /Edit

Scenario: funeral for a child of a family that is a member of the minority, but at (vehement) odds with the organized community structure due to its excess violence. I have a single parent who needs to bury a school-aged child (there are classmates and families of classmates and extracurricular-activities friends and their families), and who is alienated from both the only church in town, and the organization that fills that void for people on whom the church hates. Making it even worse on the bereaved parent, his break with the organization is recent (no more than days before the child's death) so he has no support system and no experience in managing the vehemently-non-affiliated state.

The complication is that everything I know about North American burial practices I learned from TV, and it's just about 100% alien to me; funeral and burial practices in my country/culture differ that much.

What a need: a walk-through and brackets on relevant parameters.

I've been told that funerals typically occur 3-5da after the death, and that there are "funeral homes" (that are not religious spaces) where it's possible to hold some sort of service/ceremony before the burial itself. I'm still drawing a blank on... a lot of things. What sort of a structure would be expected, for the service? Who speaks? How long is it expected to take - ten minutes, thirty, an hour? Do you bring 7-8yr olds to a funeral (the deceased child's age), or is that frowned upon? And where do you bury - how do cemetaries/burial fields work in that area?

I also need the etiquette for what happens in the days leading up to the funeral and in the days after. I've a single father (now bereaved) whose only remaining social network is whichever parents of his late daughter's friends don't have conflict loyalties; families associated with the town's church won't show up for the funeral, and families associated with the defense organization won't be welcome. The town's only about 20k people, so that... doesn't leave a lot of classmates left. (I figure a school year is anything from 100 to 200 children, but I might have very wrong ideas about the age distribution and so overestimate.) The social expectations where I live are completely different. Do you come over, even if you don't live next door? Do you bring food, and if so what kinds? Is it all right to cook in the bereaved parent's kitchen? Are there any issues with gender and gender expectations here? What's the difference of before and after the funeral? Is any of this affected by the child's death being violent (accidentally killed in an attack on her father)?
Tags: usa: maine, ~funerals

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