The Final Journey: The Meaning Behind Funeral Processions and How To Respect Them

by Amy L. Silva Rigtrup

The Funeral Procession is simply defined as a procession where family/friends, on foot or in vehicles, accompany the deceased to the place of memorialization and ultimately to the final resting place. Funeral processions can be solemn, personalized and in some cultures, a celebration.

In this fast-paced society, some view funeral processions as a nuisance, created solely to make people late to wherever they may be traveling to. It usually isn't until people find themselves in a procession, riding behind their loved one, that they understand the true significance.

With today's episode of The Silva Lining, I aimed to highlight the reasons processions are needed, ways to respect them and to offer a new perspective without having to experience that solemn ride in the limo. I was joined by my incredible grandfather, Hon. Milton R. Silva to discuss this topic from his memories of what funeral processions where like throughout his life in the industry. To take advantage of his legal career, he also shared the current laws surrounding funeral processions - and in true "Not Guilty Milty" fashion, there were some great stories thrown in, as ONLY he can tell them.

To summarize, here are some practical reasons for having funeral processions:

  • Keeps family/friends/attendees together throughout the events of the funeral
  • Makes the day of the funeral as easy as it can be for the overwhelmed and grieving family
  • Aids in navigation so that attendees don't get lost
  • Allows the funeral director and staff the ability to control and manage the logistics of parking in an orderly fashion

When driving in a procession, be sure to have your car's lights and hazards on and to stay as close as safely possible to the car in front of you.

If you see a procession coming, wether in your car or on foot, remember above all to NEVER cut in or interrupt the procession. It may seem like a nuisance, but the more that drivers attempt to cut in or pedestrians try to cross the street, the slower the funeral will have to travel as the director tries to keep everyone together. 

Instead of letting stress take over, I urge you to take a moment, exude some empathy for the family and maybe send up a prayer for the deceased. As a funeral director, I have witnessed many ways that people have shown respect for the family and the deceased as a procession goes by. Pedestrians will stop walking, bow their heads, maybe remove their hats; someone mowing the lawn will turn of the motor and pause; around election season, supporters and candidates holding signs at major intersections will signal to each other to lower their signs and bow their heads; all of these gestures, I assure you, mean so much to the family.

I gave some examples on the show of some personalized processions that I've witnessed, but want to share with you one of the most touching that I've heard of. A 3 year old boy passed away from a rare disease in Arizona and his parents made a simple post on Facebook before his funeral requesting anyone with a truck to come to the funeral because their son loved trucks of all kinds. CLICK HERE to read what happened.

The Silva Lining is thankful for our wonderful sponsor:

St. Anthony of Padua Credit Union - We are proud to be sponsored by such an incredible bank, that in an age of conglomerate banks treating people like numbers, maintains a relationship with its members based on trust, friendly service and loyalty. With competitive rates for savings accounts and various loans, St. Anthony of Padua can handle all of your financial needs. Convenient online banking and more information at