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July 30, 2020 Beyond The Dash

What is Repast at a Funeral?

The mourner's meal

What is Repast at a Funeral?
Repast is a chance for mourners to connect over a meal following the funeral ceremony. (Shutterstock)

Funerals are a chance for those who knew a deceased person to gather for collective mourning. This process helps folks connect with others who share the same grief, and to begin the healing process. After a funeral, many families will host additional memorial events. Sometimes a reception occurs, and closely linked to the reception is the funeral repast. 

A chance to grieve with those you love

The repast is the meal shared by family and close friends after the funeral. The breaking of bread together is a symbolic and practical way of aligning those who are grieving. Bringing loved ones closer together to share a meal, reminisce and grieve is just the first step for a community of people who have lost someone special. Repast exists to remind friends and family members that they're not alone in their grief. 

The main purpose of a repast is to celebrate the existence of life and love in the midst of death. It's a time for families and friends to catch up, learn new things about each other and get closer. The word "repast" has Latin roots and translates to "to eat." In the past, the word was used to mean any mealtime, but eventually became solely used for the meal eaten after a funeral. The point of this tradition was to offer those who were closest to the deceased the chance to grieve privately.

Modern repast

In recent times, the definition has somewhat shifted. While some families do choose to keep repast as an intimate meal shared only with close family members, others will host a more public reception. It can either be held at a family home, church, a civic hall or at the funeral home.

A spread of appetizers is more common than a formal, private meal these days. (Shutterstock)

Some keep repast as a meal, but expand the guest list to include friends and extended family, while others turn repast into a full-blown celebration of life. In fact repast is nearly synonymous with reception nowadays. At a repast, there might just be snacks and drinks or there may be a complete meal, depending on the funeral budget and wishes of the family.

A final word

A repast is a sacred addition to the funeral service to many families. It provides them with time to become closer with one another and truly appreciate each other's comfort. In the midst of death, family and friends will often have a strong desire to bond together for emotional support. 

Death reminds us that nothing is permanent and that everything can change in a fleeting moment. A repast is the time to reconnect with loved ones and remember why they hold such a special place in your life. While all repasts can look different, the purpose remains the same: to comfort loved ones and offer support during times of grief.

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