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Memorial Funeral Service Options

By Michael D Johnson, Sr.

Funeral service options Popular options for remembrance services include the following:

o Religious: This type of funeral may follow the rituals and ceremonies of any religion or particular denomination of a religion. The funeral may be held in a place of worship or funeral chapel and is characterized by the emphasis on the beliefs of the deceased concerning the after life. A clergyman usually conducts the service, and there can be prayers, readings, and music.

o Nonreligious: A semiformal service conducted by family or friends prior to or after final disposition. It highlights the personality, history, and remembrances of the deceased. This may be held in any location with the body present (a commemorative service) or without the body present (memorial service.) The service usually highlights various speakers and mayor may not have music or readings. This service is often called a celebration of life, and pictures, mementos, and memorabilia may be shown.

o Family gathering: An informal gathering any time after final disposition. It can be held in any location and focuses on remembrance of the deceased as part of the family circle. There is no formal program. It may also occur when the ashes are scattered.

o Private Service: Any type of service that limits the attendance to members of the family and invited guests.

Graveside service: The service is held at the graveside or the place of the final disposition rather than gathering at a church, chapel, or other facility.

Burial on land

Although cremation has grown in popularity over the past 30 years, burial is still final disposition of choice for most people in North America. Almost 75 percent in the United States and 58 percent in Canada choose burial over other options. Some people argue that we are running out of space in cemeteries. This may be true in the urban centers but space exists to continue burials in smaller centers or in rural areas. For some people, there is a family plot or a cemetery containing the remains of family members.

Burial At Sea

Burial at sea For centuries, burial at sea was a necessity as well as a ritual. A slow ship is no place to keep a decomposing body, especially in warmer climates. Today, traditional burial at sea has taken on a new and innovative approach. With the increase in cremations, some people request their remains be scattered on water. This is an established practice in cremation. However, it is now possible for a body to be buried at sea, as in the past, or to inter remains in an urn or special biodegradable container and cast these into the sea. There are special burial-at-sea services on both coasts of North America. Areas of sea bottom have been set aside for these urns and, in time, form part of an artificial reef. The cost is considerably lower than ground burial options.

There are three major types of service:

o Witnessed: Family or friends may accompany the remains for a committal service. The coordinates of the site are given so that the site may be revisited.

o Unwitnessed: The captain and crew make the committal.

o Aerial dispersal: An unaccompanied flight during which ashes are scattered at sea at least three miles from shore. The United States Navy Mortuary Affairs conducts programs from six different centers. These burials at sea are performed on us Navy vessels while they are deployed and, therefore, family members are not permitted to attend the committals. The date, time, and the longitude and a strong shift in public attitudes toward cremation. Cremation has long been the choice for many other parts of the world. Available statistics from Japan (97 percent), Great Britain (70 percent), and Scandinavia (65 percent), show a preference for cremation over burial.

In North America a number of factors have contributed to the rising popularity of cremation:

o The potentially lower cost

o Changing personal and spiritual beliefs

o Simplicity and convenience

o Acceptance by many religions

o Environmental concerns

o Dispersed families with no central family location choosing cremation do not alter the possibilities of friends and families conducting services, but reduces the focus on the physical presence of a body at those services. All options for remembrance remain open.

Cremation does offer potentially greater savings on the total cost of a funeral. The purchase of a casket, burial vault, cemetery plot, and grave opening and closing charges can be eliminated, and even if a monument is bought, it is usually smaller and less expensive. The casket is the major merchandise purchase involved in a traditional funeral or funeral with a burial. Even if you choose viewing and body preparation as part of your funeral plan you can, in many funeral homes, now rent a casket. This type of casket is exactly the same as a regular casket, but the body is placed in a liner. When the viewing or service has been completed, the end of the casket is removed and the body and the liner slide out. This liner can then be placed in a cremation container and the casket returns to the display room of the funeral home. This rental casket concept is one of the newest and most unusual innovations in funeral merchandising and marketing. Remember that many family members may be uncomfortable with the idea of cremation. Understand and acknowledge this while making your own preference known. There is also a small but growing preference for direct disposal with no remembrance service. This can be done with a burial but is more common with cremation. Once the body is cremated, the question of disposition of the ashes still remains.

A number of options exist:

o Burial (in some cases this may be done in a plot already containing a body)

o Placing the urn in a columbarium

o Placing an urn in a residence

o Scattering the ashes

Cremation frees the remains to be dealt with in ways that are not possible when the body is retained in its original form. Ashes need not be scattered or spread in one specific spot. Ashes may even be divided among family members if so desired. They can also be retained or distributed at different locations. Many people now leave specific instructions regarding the scattering of their ashes. Ash scattering may be the most popular method of final disposition, and I am amazed at the unique and often unusual places chosen to scatter ashes. The ashes can be placed somewhere that was important to the deceased. This is yet another form of remembrance. Ashes may also be buried in a container.

In any case, should you or any of your family choose cremation, the benefits would include

o no need to buy a new plot,

o reduced opening and closing charges,

o no need for a casket or burial vault, and

o the opportunity for more family members to be buried in one location. These points now become factors in planning my funeral statement on final disposition. It should also be noted that ashes are purified and therefore pose no environmental hazard.

Gospelnetics offers the largest selection of Funeral Memorial Programs. This website is highly recommended for the most beautiful templates of Funeral Programs that tell your loved one's life story.


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