“One size fits all” does not apply to funeral services. There are many different types of funeral arrangements available, and funeral homes can easily customize a funeral to reflect the unique personality of the deceased while also catering to the wishes of the family.
Funeral services have evolved over the years due to changing religious and cultural traditions as well as shifts in social norms.
Trends have also influenced funerals, e.g., green burials and crowdfunded funerals have recently grown in popularity. Yet despite the various options for funeral arrangements that abound, the tried and true basic funeral services still remain.
The main types of funeral services fall under these four basic categories:
- Traditional Funeral
- Direct Burial
- Direct Cremation
- Graveside Service
Traditional Funeral Services
A traditional funeral service includes a viewing or visitation, a funeral ceremony, and burial at the gravesite. Also known as a “full service” funeral, traditional funerals tend to be the main package offered by most funeral homes. It starts off with a viewing/visitation, where attendees can view the body and pay their respects to the family. Embalming is usually recommended for viewings, although the casket can remain closed per the family’s wishes.
A funeral service follows the viewing/visitation and is held at a funeral home, church, or other event space. Traditional funerals usually include elements such as prayers, eulogies, readings, and music. Afterwards, the body is transported by procession to the cemetery/burial location and interred in the grave. There may also be a funeral reception or repast for family and friends of the deceased to come together after the burial.
A direct burial happens when the deceased is buried shortly after death without any funeral service or other formal ceremony. The funeral home obtains the death certificate and required permits, prepares the body, and arranges transportation to the cemetery for burial.
Direct burial tends to be an affordable funeral option as embalming of the body isn’t necessary and a simple box can be used for burial instead of an expensive casket. The lack of ceremonial services also cuts down on overall funeral costs, but the cost of the cemetery plot should be taken into account when figuring total expenses. Cemetery grave plots can be pricey depending on the location.
A direct cremation happens when the deceased is cremated shortly after death without any funeral service or other formal ceremony. Embalming is unnecessary as there is no viewing/visitation, and a cardboard container can be used for the cremation process.
The cremated ashes are placed in an urn which can be buried below or above ground, scattered, or kept by the family. Direct cremation is an inexpensive funeral option and is rapidly growing in popularity with price-conscious consumers.
A graveside service (also known as committal service) occurs when the funeral service takes place at the cemetery or burial site. Funeral attendees gather at the gravesite for a ceremony led by a chosen officiant and as with traditional funeral services, there may be eulogy readings, prayers, and music (although a graveside service tends to be a shorter affair).
After the service the body is lowered into the grave or placed in a mausoleum or crypt. If the deceased was cremated, the urn holding the ashes can either be buried, scattered, or placed in a columbarium niche.
What is a Memorial Service?
A memorial service differs from a funeral service in that the body is not present. A memorial service is usually held after the deceased is buried and there is no viewing or visitation. However if cremation was the method of disposition, the urn containing the cremated ashes can be present during the memorial service.
Some families hold memorial services as a way to memorialize their loved ones, while others view memorial services as celebration of life events where family and friends of the deceased can gather in remembrance, share memories, and support each other in grief.
There are numerous possibilities when it comes to choosing a funeral service. Funeralocity helps you find and compare funeral homes in your area so you can select the type of funeral service that best fits your needs.