Fifteen Crazy Things That Happened at Funerals

As I promised in last week’s article on weddings, I have fifteen stories from pastors about funerals.

For the most part, these stories are repeated only with minor changes. The essence of the stories is unchanged. Like the stories of weddings, there were so many great submissions of funeral stories. I probably need more posts of this ilk in the future.

  1. The pastor was preaching on the resurrection during the funeral when Siri on someone’s iPhone began to speak, “I’m sorry; I don’t understand what you just said.”
  2. Three different pastors told us they fell in the grave.
  3. Three different widows jumped in the grave.
  4. The deceased’s dog died shortly after the deceased died. The family put the dead animal in the casket with her.
  5. The family released a dove at the end of the funeral. A hawk was waiting. You know the rest of the story.
  6. One lady gave a testimony at her deceased pastor’s funeral: “Having Jim as my pastor was like being in a love affair.”
  7. The pastor was interrupted during the funeral and asked to adjust the deceased in the casket because she did not look perky.
  8. The best friend of the deceased gave a eulogy sharing how he and the now deceased picked up women.
  9. During the viewing of the deceased, a song was on continuous loop: “How Much Is That Doggy in the Window?”
  10. The pastor was asked to pose with the urn of ashes for photos after the funeral.
  11. The funeral home showed up with the wrong body.
  12. This funeral had two ambulances: one to pick up a man having a heart attack; and the other to get a woman in labor.
  13. There were two funerals close together. They finished at the same time. One funeral released doves. The other funeral had a salute with several guns. There were many dead doves.
  14. The widow began shouting and praying for her husband to rise from the dead.
  15. An Elvis impersonator was one of the key speakers.

I would wonder if some of these pastors were stretching the truth if I had not been in some similar situations at funerals. Life in the ministry is never dull.

Let me hear from you, particularly if you have some funeral stories to share.

Posted on June 1, 2016

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • Everyone showed up in cutoff jeans and sleeveless tees, one girl had two babies, was Very pregnant, and wouldn’t put out her cigarette.

    The widow was wailing so loudly she could be heard outside. The next day she skipped town with her late husbands ins. check and left his cremains at the funeral home.

    The music selected by the deceased mans son was about drinking and chasing women, a country honkey tonk song. The deceased was a regular at church and an usher.

  • Don Goforth says on

    At my first funeral, the family requested “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin.

    On one particular afternoon, I did a graveside funeral for one of 4 brothers, who didn’t get along with each other, though they all were there sitting on the front row with their spouses. It began raining when we started. It was a strong downpour and started to collapse the tent, so the nephews tried to prevent the disaster by pushing the water on the tent from below towards the edges. Instead it hit the seam in between the two tents and soaked all three remaining brothers and their families. For that brief moment they all laughed together and blamed the deceased for the dousing. Then the rain stopped.

    • That is a better song than “Highway to hell.”

      • I agree Stairway is not that bad coming from unsaved family and MUCH better than a country ballad about your usher getting drunk and chasing women.

      • Thom Rainer says on


      • Along those same lines, I attended a service for a teen boy that died in a car wreck. The service was held at a small, Baptist Church and early in the service they played “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” by Guns and Roses. I was youth guy and considered myself pretty hip at the time. But the whole service, not just the one song, had an eerie, dark – even evil – feel to it. My wife and I actually left the service before it was over.

  • Holyterror says on

    My first funeral. Funeral director informs me 5 minutes prior that the deceased’s 23-year old cat had been euthanized, embalmed, and laid at her feet.

  • #1 happened to me about two months ago during a worship service. I was preaching a sermon that was pretty weighty and the mood in the room was somber. Then someone brushed their phone causing Siri to say that phrase. I said, “Let me put it another way, Siri.” Then we all had a good laugh and I was able to rephrase things in a less heavy-handed way. I’m pretty sure that small interruption gave us the moment we needed to take a deep breath. Turned out to be a great service.

  • Pastor Bob says on

    I’ve never heard of a gun salute with real bullets. Sounds kind of dangerous.

    • Robert Martin says on

      Doves are very skittish and most likely the sound of gunfire that close to them literally scared them to death.

    • Tom Rush says on

      Military gun salutes are done with blanks. It is quite dangerous to shoot any real bullet into the air. What goes up … As to the doves, that’s just strange.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Just reporting the stories told to me, folks.

  • Upon exiting the hearse at the grave side I heard a click, and whispered to the Funeral Director, “It sounded like the door locked!” Sure enough the coach doors were locked, and the body was in the back yet to be taken to the grave site. There must be a safety, because by the grace of God the back door was open. We had the service and afterwards the 6’2″ director had me open the back door as he climbed through the window to undo the driver’s door lock latch. I heard him say, “Greg go ahead and open the door.” As I did, the alarm on the hearse started to blare and he shouted get in and drive. ” I got in spun the tires and drove back to the funeral home with him in the back as we both were laugh out of control. I later explained to the family with great laughter.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Okay, Greg. I give. Why do you need a safety feature that locks the body in the hearse? I don’t think he or she is going anywhere.

      • Jean Weaver says on

        You don’t want the back hatch to accidental open and the casket go flying out!!!

  • Mark Dance says on

    A military color guard was at a graveside service I was conducting, which seemed strange since no one had mentioned this to me. After a few questions, I helped these fine soldiers find the right funeral and cemetery, which was across town. (They barely made it in time)

  • Sister of deceased asked to have casket reopened after funeral service and before the burial. I assume for additional grieving. She bends over the deceased for a long while and comes up with…a bra! She said, ” No one should have to sped eternity in a bra.”

  • Mark Woolfington says on

    When I worked as a hospital chaplain, the son of a patient who had died moments earlier informed me that he needed to go home to get his father’s dogs. Dad had requested that they be euthanized and cremated upon his death, and their ashes placed in the casket with him. The family honored his request.

  • Laramie Minga says on

    I was leading at a funeral by playing a digital piano and singing hymns during the service. At the end of the funeral, as the family was getting their last look at their loved one in the casket, I was playing some soft meditative hymns, when my finger accidentally caught the button that turned on the techno drums. Not familiar with this keyboard, it took me a while to figure out how to make it stop. There were a mixture of gasps and chuckles. Thankfully the family was on team chuckle.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Nothing wrong with an upbeat funeral.

    • Martha says on

      Oh gosh. These stories are beyond hysterical. I think the winner, though, is when some of the pastors fell in the graves. I thought to myself, could anyone ever have a worse day ever in all of time? No. No they couldn’t. Wiping my eyes from laughing at the intersection of pure horror and pure humor.

  • Ray Burks says on

    As a local pastor, I was asked to conduct a funeral for a family that had no pastor or church affiliation ar all. The deceased had actually died in prison. His family chose the music for the service – Willie Nelson’s “Seven Spanish Angels.” Apparently the song was being played from a greatest hits album.. When the song ended, I stood to begin my part, but someone forgot to stop the music and Willie’s next song began….”Of all the girls I’ve loved before…….” I sat back down until the music stopped. Afterwards I was told the song was appropriate for the deceased’ life!

    At another funeral, a singer showed up at a graveside service with a portable “boom box” which she placed on a tombstone and sang a song from her latest album, which was available for purchase.

    You can’t make this stuff up!

  • The officiant tried to take a shortcut to the pulpit (of which there are many in cathedrals) and wound up knee deep in the baptistry which had water in it.

    The estranged/ex-wife and the brother of the deceased got in an argument during the eulogy over how good the deceased was.

    Funeral directors have seen the deceased raise up in the open casket.

    The pastor did a better job conducting a funeral than he did on most Sunday mornings.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      I’ve got to hear more about the third sentence.

      • I’ve heard about that. Never witnessed it. But I was told by a man that used to work in a funeral home, that if all of the air is not pressed out of the body, it can raise up at unexpected times, making a burping sound.

      • Muscle spasms, especially if the deceased is too long for the casket and the knees are bent a little bit.

      • Josue Brewster-Sanchez says on

        Pastor and part of his congregation show up for the funeral of one of his congregants and they had church in that funeral. At the end he goes up to the widow and hands her a love offering on behalf of the church. When he gets out to the foyer his wife says to him “did you know any of them people in there”? He said no! Well that’s because brother Jim’s family is waiting for you to start the service next door.

      • Glenn Grigsby says on

        I did a funeral for a family member, and her husbands nick name was Butch, I had it all typed as Butch, but when I did the service I used the ” B” word in error, my face got red, i apologized, but he said out loud that was ok as his kids called him that because they could not pronounce Butch.

        At another funeral for a vavorite uncle, when the wind that was blowing from my back and towards the family, suddenly shift to come from the right, and blow my papers in my book. I looked to my right and said “Ok, Uncle Jim, that was enough.” And the wind stilled, and the family laughed about it and said that was like him th do that, as he was a jokester.

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