Questions on the Amish and Death

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  1. Do Amish believe in an afterlife?
  2. How do Amish mourn the deceased?
  3. What happens at an Amish funeral?
  4. Are Amish embalmed?
  5. Do Amish use funeral homes?
  6. Where are Amish people buried?
  7. Who makes coffins for the Amish?

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Do Amish believe in an afterlife?

Yes. On the subject of Hell, the Amish-published doctrinal book 1001 Questions and Answers on the Christian Life cites the Bible in describing it as “the place where all the unrighteous will suffer the pangs of indescribable torment forever.”

Regarding the unsaved, they should “seek the pardoning grace of an ever-loving Father,” while Christians should “redouble their efforts for the salvation of the lost.” Heaven is “everlasting joy and glory” prepared “for the saints of God (Matt. 25:34).” Read more on Amish beliefs on Heaven and Hell in 1001 Questions and Answers on the Christian Life.

How do Amish mourn their dead?

While Amish focus on the world beyond this one, they certainly feel sorrow and loss like any other humans when loved ones pass away. Amish women typically wear black dresses as a signifier of loss. The length of time a women may wear such a dress depends on the relationship to the deceased, with the black garment being worn for a longer time period the closer the connection.

Amish people may visit a cemetery in remembrance of a lost loved one, but they do not pray for the souls of the deceased as in other Christian denominations, given the belief that all that can influence their final state has already transpired.

cemetery-nappanee-indiana

Amish cemetery. Nappanee, Indiana settlement.

What happens at an Amish funeral? 

An Amish funeral service is similar to a church service, held in the home and with preaching by two ministers. The body of the deceased is placed in a pine casket, usually made by an Amish person. Amish funerals are often very well-attended, as are viewings, which are also held at Amish homes. Read more on Amish funerals.

Are Amish embalmed?

Yes, deceased Amish people are typically embalmed by a professional mortician before the body is returned home for the viewing. The most conservative Amish may abstain from this practice.

Do Amish use funeral homes? 

Amish may make limited use of funeral home services, particularly for embalming the body, but viewings and funeral services are typically held in the home, as is the typical Amish practice regarding church services.

Where are Amish buried? 

Amish cemeteries are located in various places throughout the community, often on a patch of farmland. They are recognizable by their simple gravestones and fencing.

In some places (Lancaster County) Amish may be buried alongside Mennonites but in most cases Amish have their own private cemeteries. Members of the community take turns tending and maintaining the cemetery grounds.

Who makes coffins for the Amish? 

Amish are typically buried in very simple pine caskets. These may be made by a member of the community who builds caskets as a business.

More questions on the Amish? Get answers to 300+ questions in 41 categories at the FAQ main page.

References:

  • Kraybill, Donald B., Steven M. Nolt, and David Weaver-Zercher. The Amish Way: Patient Faith in a Perilous World. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010.
  • Hostetler, John A. Amish Society. 4th ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993.
  • Kraybill, Donald B., Karen Johnson-Weiner, and Steven M. Nolt. The Amish. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013.
  • Brown, Joshua R. “An Amish Mortuary Ritual at the Intersection of Cultural Anthropology and Lexicography.” Yearbook for German-American Studies Supplemental Issue Volume 3 (2010): 85-100.

To Cite this Page: Wesner, Erik J. “Death.” Amish America. Erik Wesner, 11 Feb. 2015. Web. [Date Accessed]. <http://amishamerica.com/death/>.

Image credits: Headstones – Brenda