When funeral planning, you may not actually be looking at doing a funeral. You may want to have a memorial service. You may just want to have a party. Here are some considerations about what kind of send-off to plan.
“What is traditional? What is contemporary? What is simple? Every family comes to this with a totally different perspective. Expectations are often based on the customs of those who have died, and their families, and their traditions,” said funeral director Glenn Taylor.
Will remains be intact and present or not? With a body present, it is a funeral and you have a certain range of options. The body can be cremated immediately after a funeral. If the body will be buried, where the burial is to take place impacts the funeral services. A local burial can mean a graveside service at its most simple, and the options grow from there.
The family can hold visitation at the funeral home, a chance for family and friends to see the deceased one last time (if that was his or her wish or the family’s tradition), or just to visit with the family before the funeral. The funeral can take place in a house of worship with a religious funeral, at a funeral home, either with a religious ceremony or not, or even at your own home, followed by burial. If you’ve got the acreage and the zoning to do the burial at home, great! If not, then the body will have to be transported to a cemetery after the funeral.
Other religious rituals can take place with the body present, such as the Catholic rosary service, separate from a funeral mass. An overview of funeral services and traditions for a range of religions will be coming to this blog in the near future.
If the deceased finished his life in Florida but has a burial plot on Long Island, he’ll need to be shipped, and that’s going to impact funeral arrangements. I’ll post information about shipping bodies domestically in the near future. One option is to have a funeral with friends and family in the city where the person dies, then have a graveside service at the destination cemetery. Another option is a funeral in the distant city, then a memorial service in the city where the person had most recently lived and died.
A memorial service, held when the body is not present, either because of cremation, body donation to science, or other reasons, opens up a whole range of creative possibilities. The event does not need to be held within days of the person’s death. It can be scheduled weeks or even months later. To reap the healing benefits of holding a memorial service, you may want to do the event within the first few weeks of the death, when grief is still fresh and the act of creating a service can help process mourning.