Australia is a melting pot of many different cultures and religions. Even though some people are simply descendants of those who may have initially immigrated, they want to maintain these traditions, especially when it comes to important life events. If you are a Greek migrant who has few memories or real understanding of some of these traditions, you may be wondering how you should proceed in the unfortunate event of a family bereavement. What key points do you need to be aware of?

Respecting Eternal Life

The Greek Orthodox religion firmly believes in eternal life and the church wants to emphasise that the departed is still alive with God following death. This notion of eternal life for the soul is to be found throughout the traditions surrounding mourning and the funeral. It is believed that the physical body will be eventually reunited with the soul, when the last judgement occurs and as a consequence, cremation is not allowed, as it would destroy the physical body.

Preparing for the Journey

It is also believed that a person will go through a journey to the afterlife. It is therefore common for smaller, personal and valuable items that may have belonged to the departed to be placed in the coffin prior to the funeral.

Paying Respects

It's also traditional for a special prayer service to be held on the night before the funeral, at a chapel or church. This will be the occasion for people to pay their respects and to view the departed. This particular service is repeated at the graveside or in the church, several times after the death.


A period of forty days is allowed for mourning and it's traditional for friends and relatives to bring specific items of food and drink to share with family members at their home. For example, dried biscuits, coffee or wine are often associated with this event.

Planning the Funeral

It's normal for the funeral to be held on a weekday, rather than a weekend and it should never take place on a Sunday. Following a short service, the attendees will have the opportunity to pay their last respects to the open casket before removal to the graveyard.

Following the quick prayer ceremony at the graveside, it's traditional for the family to host a wake at their home, where a meal is shared and special dishes represent how life is lived in the family's original homeland.

Handling Arrangements

Many Greek Australians will want this funeral to be handled by directors who are familiar with the specific culture and tradition. Get in touch with someone who specialises in this, to handle these sensitive arrangements.