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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  • My very first official duty in my first pastorate, fresh out of College. I had to do a service for someone whose ashes had been interred in the wrong place. In the UK it is classed as an exhumation and needs home office (government) permission. To get round this they dug a trench to where the ashes should be and pushed them along it (“underground” and therefore not exhumed)!!!!!

  • Jessie Cunningham says on

    I own a limo service and often drive for funerals. The car has a fully stocked bar in the back. I have arrived at burials, opened the back door to find the entire family drunk. At one burial the wife was so drunk, she almost fell in the grave.

    I have also had families crying on their way to the burial, start fighting about money on their way to the luncheon.

    The husband’s wife and girlfriend both came to the funeral. Each had children by the deceased, they were seated on opposite sides of the church, had to leave the church by different doors. They still managed to get into a fight, police had to be called to break up the fight.

  • I conducted one funeral where I was asked to sing “Somewhere over the Rainbow” at the graveside.

    I conducted another funeral where a family member brought a large television and a “Rock Band” video game and set it up on the table behind the urn with the deceased’s ashes and played “Stairway to Heaven” on the video game during the middle of the service while the entire congregation watched.

    Every family has to do what they need to in order to have closure. These were two of the most interesting I’ve encountered.

  • Stephen Arp says on

    My Brother-in-Law had a Seminary Pastorate in the eastern Kentucky mountains. During a final viewing, the deceased was pulled from the casket and fell to the floor. Being a ‘frugal’ funeral, the deceased was not wearing pants.

    I officiated in a funeral where one surviving son asked to pray at the graveside. Being a very young minister, I agreed. When I called on him to pray, he knelt beside the casket and began to pound it with his fist as he prayed. One strap holding the casket above the grave broke loose with the pounding, and the casket slide into the grave. The young man continued to pray as if nothing had happened.

  • Michael Bartlett says on

    A woman crept into the funeral home and stole a ring off the deceased. It was caught on surveillance cameras. She was later arrested. But it was hard to perform the funeral.

  • Great list, and I enjoyed reading these comments and stories from others. I have preached more funerals than I can count and have seen my share of oddities at various funerals:
    -“Freebird” requested by family, denied by funeral director, then played afterward in parking lot.
    -Grandson of the deceased played a song on an electric guitar at earsplitting volume and had numerous technical difficulties.
    -Daughter of the deceased walked up to her sister at the funeral and said, “Here’s your share from our mother’s inheritance. She then dropped in her sister’s hand their mother’s false teeth. The sister, who attended my church, turned and walked away and took this horrid slight most gracefully.

    I have also witnesses strange things at funerals I attended, but was not officiating. A few years ago I attended a graveside service for a friend’s father. It was mid July, 90 plus degrees, and very humid. The pastor and his wife sang about three songs with the pastor accompanying on the guitar. Pastor then began preaching and did so for about 30 minutes. He then grabbed the guitar and did another mini-concert. We had been there nearly an hour when an elderly man in front of me collapsed and was carried to some shade and given water to revive him. The pastor then wisely prayed the benediction and dismissed us – before someone else collapsed.

  • Susan Strang says on

    The widower approached me at the pulpit less than five minutes after the service began saying in loud voice that I simply must hurry the service because he had a date!

  • My friend was doing the service at his father-in-law’s funeral. Our friend, who had taken care of his father-in-law for several years, including showering, skin lotion rubs, toilet help, denture care, etc. told about his father-in-laws last comment to him: “Geez, if I knew you’d be taking this kind of personal care of me I would have been a lot nicer to you before.”

  • This isn’t funny but it’s true. The person giving the eulogy decided to use the opportunity to announce the fact she had been having an affair with the deceased as her husband and the deceased’s partner sat in the front row. She wrote a special poem about it all and read it out to us. I had to follow it with a sermon. Eeek. That was a tricky few minutes!

  • Loving these stories! Dr. Rainer (or anyone else who may like to respond), would there be a time that you would say “no” to doing a funeral? What about walking out of a funeral in protest of a situation?

    Hoping a podcast comes out of these stories 🙂

  • Ken Overturf says on

    When deputy returned not reckless

  • Ken Overturf says on

    At pre-service family consultation, 2 family members got into an argument. County sheriff was called. Deputy handcuffed the 2 family members together around a tree and drove away. They had calmed down greatly when he reckless an hour later.

    At graveside family requested to play “waltz across Texas.” At completion daughter say, “let’s hear it for Mom. Hip hip hooray, hip hip hooray, hip hip hooray!”

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