The Funeral Car Procession – What Does Each Car Do?

Funerals are something that most of us will go through at some point in our lives. However, these occasions are also some of the most misunderstood of anything we’ll experience.  The funeral process is not typically something people learn about and, as a result, they feel confused and overwhelmed when they are dealing with it.

Funeral cars are, in particular, widely misunderstood.  When planning a funeral, the funeral cars are a simple yet vital part of the event. When people are asked how many cars they need, they often don’t know how to answer.  These same mourners are often also left wondering why so many cars are involved as well as how to handle the procession either as a rider or a driver.

Following is the general order in which these cars travel during the procession on the way to the cemetery:

  • The first funeral car is usually the one with the purple rotating light on top. This car leads the procession and is responsible for stopping at red lights or making sure the intersection is clear before leading the other cars through.
  • The second car is usually the hearse or funeral coach that carries the deceased. This is the most recognizable of all the funeral cars.
  • Next is the family car or cars. Depending on how large the family is, there may be only one or several of these vehicles. They typically carry the immediate family, including spouses, children and parents of the deceased.
  • Other cars involved in the procession include the flower car, which carries the flowers from the ceremony to the cemetery and other mourners who have attended the funeral. Sometimes, there is even a special car for the pallbearers. This usually comes after the family cars but before the line of other mourners.
  • This brings us to the question of why these cars are necessary.  Can’t the family simply drive themselves to the cemetery and lead the procession?   Why does a funeral need so many cars?

The simple fact is that the funeral procession is there to help support the family and friends of the person being honored.  Driving is an activity that requires focus, concentration and cognitive skills.  Mourning and grieving is a process that compromises these and so having someone else drive is simply safer.

Leading and managing the procession is also a difficult and demanding job, especially if the procession is long.  Police officers and drivers work together to ensure the procession stays together and no one gets lost during red lights and while moving through traffic.

While funeral cars seem like an extra touch, they are truly a vital and important part of the funeral.  Not only do they lend an air of gravity to the procession from the funeral home to the cemetery, they also ensure that the grieving friends and family can focus only on honoring their loved one without having to worry about traffic.