RIP Lindsay
Sep 13, 2006
I attend many Haitian and Dominican funerals here in Juan Dolio. Too many. I was at one this week and as usual they asked me to take photographs as it is very important to have a picture of the deceased in the coffin. Much as I don't really like this I do it, and then give the photos to the family. Often it is the only photo they have of the deceased as most Dominicans and Haitians here do not have cameras.

Whilst in the chat room earlier this week I mentioned I had to leave to take the photos and some people asked to see them. I said I would not put them in a thread but myabe in the gallery which I did. Understanderbly, they were deleted as they would be upsetting to some people.

Haitian and Dominican funerals are very interesting. The body is washed and covered with talcom powder and quickly put in the coffin which in our case comes from San Pedro for around 2500RD$. The coffins come in pink, blue or silver which is more expensive. The eyes and mouth are glued shut. The whole washing of the body and preparing it for its journey is very important and has to be done by the wife/husband and closest family. It all happens very quickly. The coffin is open over the face and is surrounded by a cross and candles. There is then a wake which lasts all night and then the burial the next day in a local cemetery. If you can afford it, you put concrete on top of the coffin quickly or the casket gets robbed! They are only put a couple of feet deep rather than deeper as in the UK.

At the wake, coffee is served and if you want to help the family out you buy the casket and a sack of coffee. Dominican wakes are sadder than Haitian ones, in that there is a lot of wailing and crying, but in Haitian ones it is more like a party with dancers, lovely singing and the obligatory games of dominoes. I have even seen dominoes played on top of the coffin!!!

When the person dies you can tell how strong they were as to how the spirit leaves the body. If they shake and groan a lot they were strong as the spirit has to fight to leave, but if they die peacefully they were weak....or so they tell me. Please God let me be weak!!!!

At Haitian funerals you need a gallon of Brugal for the dancers too, and soft drinks for people all night as well as coffee.

They really are quite nice occasions and the fact that it is all over so quickly I think is much better than Uk for example where you might have to wait over a week for a funeral.

I do have some photos, so if anyone would like to see them then pm me. I really don't want to upset anyone, and the families have no objection at all, but there was a lot of interest in the chat room.



Oct 26, 2004
Thanks for that Matilda...I found that most interesting and insightful as one who thankfully hasnt had to attend any funerals in the DR.

It is helpful to try and understand the local customs as one wouldnt want to be inappropriate in this situation and would want to conform to the traditions of the mourners.
Sep 19, 2005
I have been to three dominican funerals so far. One was a motorcycle accident with a serious head injury. On the first two I went and viewed with Tavina the open casket. The last one was the motorcycle accident, and I knew of the head injury and I decided not to view, because I didnt need to see a mangeled face and head, on someone I had never met before. my GF called me a chicken.

So doesnt anyone else think that the last actually viewing of the person you knew and or loved would be so horrific? You know that last view will be the one you remember the most and who wants to remember a loved one in that way.

My brother in law die horrifically in a motorcycle accident and luckily in america they have closed caskets for such deaths. So they used a good photo on top of the casket...much better memory i think.