What is a Funeral Repast

When we experience the loss of a loved one, a funeral ceremony fills several vital needs. Most importantly a funeral gives a support system for friends and family members. The after-funeral repast is a critical element of the grieving process.

What is a funeral repast? A repast is a meal after a funeral were mourners gather and collectively share their sorrow. The post-funeral reception offers an opportunity for friends and family to celebrate the deceased life. The definition of repast is not limited to funerals and means "A Meal"

A funeral repast is also known as: Repass, Funeral Meal, Mercy Luncheon, Meal of Condolence, The First Meal, Dignity Meal, Pominki (поминки), Kokubetsu-Shiki (告別式), Solemn Feast, Stypa

By: Bob Shirilla

   - What is a Funeral Repast
   - Benefit of a funeral repast
   - Purpose of a funeral repast  
   - Repast Invitation
   - Which is correct repast or repass
   - Funeral Repast Origin
   - How do you pronounce Repast
   - Planning a Repast Meal - 6 Tips
Repast - Post Funeral Meal

Benefit of a funeral repast

1) Comfort loved ones and offer support

Part of the grieving process and the healing process is to talk and share feelings. This is sometimes hard to do and harder if one is alone. By attending a Repast, people have an informal opportunity to chat and reminisce about the deceased. People who are shy and not used to public speaking can simply listen and feel that they are involved in the process. Grieving together goes a long way towards helping the healing process and a Repast offers the opportunity for all to get involved.

2) Allow family members to bond

At a Repast gathering, family members who have not seen one another for lengthy time periods can bond, offer and gain emotional support. This is especially true if family members live far away and have traveled long distances to attend the funeral. The Repast provides a safe place to gather, reflect and share thoughts over a meal. 

3) Offer personal condolences to the family

Funerals are never planned and one is often caught unawares. In the moments of grief and shock, it is sometimes difficult and not always possible to offer personal condolences to the family and loved ones. At the Repast, the setting is more casual and informal. Mourners will feel at ease approaching the family and offering condolences on a one-to-one basis.

4) Celebrate the life of the deceased

Death comes to remind us that life is important – that it is fleeting and can be snatched away at a moment’s notice. Spending time with friends and loved ones is a wonderful way to celebrate the life of the deceased. At a Repast, the process is informal and from the heart. Unlike speeches made at the funeral ceremony, gathering at a Repast allows people to speak more freely and with no pressure. Many will want to talk about happy episodes that they shared with the deceased. Many will recall special moments that they will treasure for years to come. Family can catch up and celebrate the Life that goes on after one of us has left this Earth.

5) Bring closure to the funeral process

The word Repast means ‘a meal’ and the symbolic process of Breaking Bread is part of many religious ceremonies. By sharing a meal with loved ones and friends, you begin to bring closure to the grieving process. People know that they are loved and cared about and that there are others struggling with the same feelings of grief. After a funeral, people tend to want to talk and not simply climb into their cars and return home to everyday life. The Repast offers an informal and loving setting that closes off the day, no matter how hard it has been.

Purpose of a funeral repast

When a funeral service is over, people are often left feeling alone, bereft and not sure what to do or where to go. Many tend to stand around and look for some sort of support or guidance, not wanting to just ‘pack up and leave’.

Planning an after funeral meal or Repast is an essential part of the funeral and grieving process. It gives mourners a place to go to and allows friends and family to talk, bond and share their feelings and stories about the deceased.

A Repast meal can be a formal affair at a large venue with multiple courses. Alternatively, it can be a small gathering at a family or friend’s home where finger-food is served.

A family spokesperson will usually announce the venue for the Repast after the funeral service. If one needs to travel, directions will be given. If nothing is said, you can assume that the Repast is by invite only, and the relevant people have previously been informed.


Repast Invitation

Many people wonder if they are invited to the repast meal. The after funeral reception (Repast) is either private or open to everyone attending the funeral service.

Am I invited to the repast?  If the dinner is open to all, the funeral director will announce that the family wishes to invite everyone to the repast gathering. When the funeral repast meal is private, invitations are typically sent via email or a printed letter.

Sample Repast Invitation

Sample Repast Invitation


Which is correct repast or repass?

Generally speaking, when referring to the reception after a funeral repast and repass can be used interchangeably.  

According to Webster, the definition of repass is "to pass through, over, or by again" and the definition of repast is "something taken as food". However, the Urban dictionary defines repass as "the gathering with food, occurs directly after the burial or burial ceremony" and the definition of repast as "family meal or gathering directly following a funeral."


Funeral Repast Origin

Looking at the etymology of the term repast, the origin was started in the late 14 century in Old French as "a meal, food" and this was derived from the Latin word repastus meaning "meal."

Many people question if the term repast is only used in the United States. It was surprising that repast is used throughout the world and France is 20th on the list. Using Google Trends the top five countries based on popularity are:

1 - Jamaica
2 - Trinidad & Tobago
3 - United States
4 - United Kingdom
5 - Australia


How do you pronounce Repast

 ruh . past

Repast in a sentence: The "repast" meal provides an opportunity for friends and family to gather and collectively commemorate the life of the deceased.


Planning a Repast Meal - 6 Tips

Funeral Repast Dinner


  1. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself. You may be grieving or in shock. If you need help from family members or friends to plan the Repast, do not feel bad asking for it. People are always willing to help in situations like this.

  2. The choice of venue is up to you. Many Churches and places of worship have community centers, halls or reception areas where you can hold your Repast. Ask your Priest or Pastor for information. You can hold your Repast at your home or at the home of the deceased. If you are planning a large affair, a restaurant or hall may be booked. You can even plan a Repast in an outdoor park or at the beach. You should consider what would best suit the personality of the deceased.

  3. There are no food rules for a Repast meal. It can range from a sit-down multi-course meal to a simple stand-up buffet. Food can be prepared by a caterer or by the family. You can even ask some close friends to each bring along a plate of snacks. Remember that some people may be vegan or have allergies, so plan on having a few special dishes for them. Make sure you have tea, coffee, juices and water available.

  4. The Repast meal is usually for friends and family. You can however decide whether to open it to all who have attended the funeral or to offer personal invites to selected people. If it is an open invitation, the venue can be announced at the end of the funeral ceremony. If not, be sure that the correct people have received invites before the time.

  5. Your Repast will cost money and you are under no obligation to spend more than you can afford. You can choose to have a small gathering or a lavish affair – it is entirely up to you. At no stage should the grieving family be put under financial strain.

  6. A Repast will essentially be filled with sad and grieving people. But, it does provide an opportunity to relax, talk and open up. People will want to share stories about their times with the deceased. The best Repast settings are usually informal and casual. You do not need to go overboard with décor or entertainment. Set out your food, some chairs and tables and allow people to mingle, chat and comfort one another.