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What is a committal?

The concluding rite of a funeral service is the committal and this can be a very emotional moment. It can take place at the funeral service, the graveside, or in the case of a cremation, in the crematorium chapel.

In the cemetery, family and friends will gather near the open grave into which the coffin is partially lowered and the committal is spoken. Handfuls of earth can be scattered on the coffin and petals or floral tributes may be placed on the coffin as family and friends pay their last respects before the coffin is fully lowered.

At a crematorium, the words of committal are normally accompanied by the coffin being lowered on a catafalque. A catafalque is a construction at the front of the chapel on which the coffin is placed prior to the funeral service or the committal service.

When the words of committal are spoken the coffin is lowered to approximately floor level. Following this the family and mourners are invited to come forward to place floral tributes or petals on the coffin and pay their last respects before leaving the chapel.

Sometimes the funeral service is held entirely in the one place such as the church, chapel or family home and includes the Prayers of Committal. Family and mourners pay their last respects before the coffin is then taken to the cemetery or crematorium for an unattended burial or cremation.