Funeral agencies for all religions
Today, funeral agencies handle most of the practical aspects of a funeral - no matter what faith or religion one belongs to.
Many agencies have extended experience in adjusting ceremonies to various religious rules or individual wishes from the family.
Commercial funeral agencies were first established in larger Norwegian towns around 1870. However, the custom of attending to the body in the home and locally made coffins continued in rural areas until long after the second world war. There were many reasons for the shift of burial from private to public sectors. The most important is perhaps the growth of health institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes. Many tasks formerly done by family members, relatives or neighbors, were now became a public responsibility. For example, washing of the deceased at hospitals is now done automatically by hospital staff, unless family members express their wish to take part.
A funeral agency asks family members if they wish burial or cremation, and if the agency should arrange the ceremony. If the ceremony will be handled by the agency, the family is asked what kind of ceremony and where it should be held. Family members choose music, a coffin and accessories, and the agency takes care of preparing and transporting the body. Then the agency coordinates the timetable for the priest, imam or other religious specialists, for the chapel, cemetery and family. The agency can also assist during the ceremony.
Throughout time, many organizations have arisen which aimed to secure an worthy end to their members. In the 17th century, Christiania Merchants Corpse Association operated under the motto "Me today, You tomorrow". A similar association was founded in the town of Moss in 1800 by "24 good citizens who have the funds to buy themselves respectable black clothes, including accoutrements." Poor people were carried to the grave for free if "his circumstances are so meager that his estate cannot pay four speciedalers to the association".
Today, members of various ethnic and religious organizations pay regular fees to collective assistance funds. Turkish Burial Fund is one of these. The association has an agreement with one of the funeral agencies in Oslo for preparing bodies for transport back the homeland, or for Islamic burial in Norway - according to the wishes of the family. The Jewish Belief Society (Det Mosaiske Trossamfunn) in Oslo has their own funeral association group called Chevra Kadisha.