Quaker beliefs & practices about death differ from Friend to Friend, and from Quaker branch to Quaker branch of the Religious Society of Friends. This resource addresses what practices have been observed among liberal Friends.


Historically and at present, Quakers have not placed much emphasis on theological constructs or corporate beliefs of what an afterlife might look like. Friends place much more emphasis on paying attention to the sacredness of daily life and faithfulness to the Divine, from birth to death. It is expected that Friends in one’s Quaker meeting will help the caregivers of the dying person in different ways: visiting, providing childcare if needed, taking turns sitting with and worshipping with the sick or dying Friend, or providing a casserole for the caregivers’ family.

Quakers see death as a holy, natural process, not unlike birth. Friends emphasize that grief for a loved one is a healthy, normal process in which they may be of support to one another.


Like Quaker weddings, Quaker memorials usually align with the simplicity testimony. They are a celebration of the life of the Friend who has died. There is waiting, unprogrammed worship, though families sometimes request the inclusion of music or poetry that was special to the Friend.

At the start of the memorial, a member of the meeting, family member, or friend will welcome everyone and introduce the idea of un-programmed worship to the gathering, so that everyone assembled will understand what to expect. After a period of silent worship, usually about 15 to 20 minutes, family and f/Friends are invited to stand and speak from their hearts about the Friend who has died. Friends should pause a little before rising to give a message of their own, so that the group may absorb and process each message that is given.

After about an hour, the person who introduced worship will shake hands with another person sitting with them to signal the end of the service. Afterwards, there is usually a reception, often a simple potluck provided by Friends in the meeting.


Quaker burials also tend to be simple affairs. For some, this has included cremation or even green burial, to have as little impact on the planet as possible. Quaker headstones are usually a small, plain, slightly rounded stone with just the person’s name and dates of birth and death.

Other Resources

What to Expect at a Quaker Memorial Service | QuakerSpeak
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