Celebrating African American Funeral Traditions


Since Krause Funeral Homes opened its flagship location on Capitol Drive back in 1958, we’ve made it our mission to serve every family who walks through our doors with respect and compassion. Over the years, as we’ve expanded to Brookfield, New Berlin, and our facility on Brown Deer Road, our multi-cultural staff has established a reputation for treating people with dignity, no matter their race or religion. We’re proud to assist those in our diverse community, including our African American neighbors, who have turned to us during their time of need for more than eight decades.

Part of our responsibility and passion when helping families plan funerals, burials, and cremation is incorporating specific rituals and traditions as they pay tribute to their loved ones. We know how long-standing customs can bring peace and comfort during difficult times. We also know how important it is to have a deep knowledge of a family’s history – especially the traditions they carry from one generation to the next. In our work, we truly care for families, providing genuine and personal service when people are at their most vulnerable.

For many African Americans, funerals are viewed as a celebration of life; a peaceful, celebratory homegoing, as these ceremonies are often called. There is a sense of pride woven throughout the rituals, which often begin with a week-long visitation, as loved ones offer their condolences. Two to three days prior to the funeral, families will often hold a wake allowing loved ones to spend time with the person who died.

On the day of the funeral, vehicles like our impeccably maintained Cadillac hearses and sedans can escort the family from their home to the church, and later, to the gravesite. Traditionally, an open casket is adorned with flower arrangements and ornate fabrics. Those in attendance often join in African American hymns – sometimes with a choir present – and the presiding pastor gives a eulogy. Following the service, the procession leads to the gravesite, where loved ones will place personal items on the final resting place. Afterward, many will go to the church, funeral home, or family home for a reception.

Each of these practices and rituals is significant, as loved ones support one another during a time of overwhelming emotion. Here at Krause, Milwaukeeans know how deeply we care about and support our neighbors, particularly during times of sadness. We have a long history in this community, and are here to help every family create the meaningful, personal service their loved one deserves.

We encourage you to contact us anytime, and visit our four funeral home locations throughout Milwaukee. Our facilities offer the ultimate in convenience and comfort, with every detail and amenity carefully designed to put grieving families at ease. This includes formal chapels, in-house catering facilities including beer and wine, and state-of-the-art flat screen TVs for personalized video tributes. Families often tell us they appreciate how everything can be taken care of in one location. Reach out to us to learn how we can walk alongside you when you need us.

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