Mourning After Burial - “Memory Eternal

A white cross used in traditional Orthodox burial services.

Probably the least understood and yet an extremely important aspect of the mourning period after burial of a loved one is that of traditional memorial events.

The mourning period for Eastern Orthodox Christians can vary with each family, but generally lasts for forty (40) days. Within the forty day mourning period, the third day, the ninth day, and the forty (40th) day have special significance.

A suggested period of mourning with specific days and memorial events are as follows:

  • Immediately upon passing – an Orthodox Priest prays a Trisagion Service over the recently departed

  • The third day after death – an Orthodox Priest prays a Trisagion Service for the deceased emblematic of the fact that Jesus was dead for three days before rising from the grave.

  • The ninth day after death – an Orthodox Priest prays a Trisagion Service to acknowledge the fact that as Eastern Orthodox Christians, we believe the spirit of the deceased has now joined the nine (9) choirs of holy angels.
  • The fortieth day after death – a forty day memorial is offered with Holy Bread and Wheat offered by the family of the deceased in his/her memory. It is the belief of the Eastern Orthodox Christian that the deceased’s soul remains on earth for 40 days.
  • Six month, one year, and three year Memorials are traditional in the Eastern Orthodox Community. It is also appropriate to have Memorials at other times as the family may wish.