Beliefs about death and dying, and life after death

Sikhs believe the soul goes through a cycle of rebirths, with the ultimate objective being to break the cycle and be reunited with God. They believe that the present life is influenced by what happened in previous ones and the current life will set the scene for the next.

Expression of grief

Mourning amongst the family and their relatives begins immediately and is undertaken discreetly in the family home. White or light colours are worn during mourning.

The coffin is taken to the family home where it is left open for friends and family to pay their respects. It is then taken to the Gurdwara where hymns and prayers are sung for the person who has died. If appropriate, food may be brought to the family home as a gesture of help in their time of need.  

The family remains in mourning for several days after the funeral and may listen to readings from the Guru Granth Sahib (Holy Book).

Funerals and customs 

The body is cremated as soon as possible after death. A short service follows at a crematorium, during which the eldest son (or other child or family member, depending on the family) presses the button for the coffin to move behind the curtain.

Any member of the Sikh faith, including women, may attend a funeral, alongside members of other faiths. Both men and women cover their heads at a funeral.

After the funeral, prayers and a meal are usually held at the Gurdwara. The ashes may be taken back to India to be scattered. In the UK they may be sprinkled in the sea or a river.

Support organisations

Our grateful thanks for their input into this resource to:

  • Suman Mumtaz, Child Bereavement UK
  • Maninder Hayre, Child Bereavement UK

Visit our page: How we can support you for more on our services.

You can also call our Helpline 0800 02 888 40, email [email protected], or use Live Chat on our website.