|A funeral service, like a wedding or, birth of a child, is a life event that you have only one chance to make as special and as personal as possible. A well-planned, personalized funeral service is a fitting celebration of the life that has been lived. We encourage you to express any preference you have to your funeral director; regardless of the funeral home you choose to use. No question or request is unimportant of too minor to ask. It is important you and your family feel right about the service you provide your loved one.
Although the exact nature of funeral rites and ceremonies can differ greatly from one religion or culture to another, different kinds of funerals fulfill the same purposes. When making funeral arrangements, remember to take these important purposes into consideration.
- Bring together a community of mourners to remember the deceased.
- Create opportunities to express our grief and to offer each other emotional support.
- Allow us to search for meaning in life and death.
- Provide mourners with a sense of closure.
No two funerals are alike, nor should they be. Your funeral director can help you personalize a funeral within a budget you are comfortable with and in the way you want your loved one remembered. Since most funeral directors will do whatever is possible to help you create a meaningful ceremony, be sure to share your ideas for personalizing the funeral with him or her. Ask questions and state your unique preferences no matter what they may be.
It is also important to understand the exact types of services and merchandise you will receive for the price you will pay. We encourage you to compare services available, prices and reputation of the funeral homes you are considering. Unlike most consumer transactions, funeral arrangements are usually made at a very emotional time, so take your time and understand your options. Or, better yet, make your own arrangements in advance and save your family the difficulties and potential higher costs.
There are many traditional choices to make; simple or elaborate, viewing or visitation, remembrance or religious rites, chapel or graveside, burial or cremation. Additionally, your choices of music, flowers, location, monument, etc. can all reflect your individual tastes and wishes. As you consider your choices, also think about the people who will attend your services. Sometimes, something as simple as a certain piece of music or type of flower can offer loved ones a great deal of comfort when it elicits a special memory or significance. Below are some ideas to help you personalize a funeral service.
- Write a letter to the person who has died and express all of the feelings you ever wanted to say and place it in the casket.
- Bring in the favorite song of the person who has died and have funeral director play it during the visitation and/or funeral service.
- Bring photographs to the funeral director to be used on a memory board for the visitation and funeral service.
- If your loved one had a hobby, bring some of their works in to be displayed at the funeral home. For example your funeral director could take quilt work and drape it over the casket.
- If you or your loved one have favorite scripture readings, let your funeral director know and they will see to it that they are incorporated into the service.
- If your loved one composed poetry or essays, we can reproduce several copies so that people might take these with them from the funeral home. They could also be recited as a part of the services.
- If the person who died was not a regular churchgoer, consider a memorial service in a favorite place that perhaps reflected their lifestyle; like a park, the marina or even a basketball court.
- Eulogize the person who has died during the funeral or visitation. Oftentimes the clergy person did not know the person who has died. Who better can do that than someone who better knew the person who died.
- Place cherished items in the casket like pictures of the grandchildren and other family members, a photo of the family pet, a favorite golf club, a pool stick, a well worn baseball cap, or a religious item.
- In processing to the cemetery, consider a favorite place your loved one liked to go, like their favorite park, or the beach, or even a favorite restaurant.
There are many more ideas your funeral director could share with you. Or, discuss any special ideas you might have with him or her. Generally, they are professional, caring and want to do the right thing.
Perhaps no other moment in the funeral experience is as powerful as the final disposition. For survivors, this is a strong symbolic moment confirmation that they must let go of the person who died and look ahead to changed lives. For this reason, it is important that families choose the kind of final disposition most meaningful to them and most appropriate for the deceased.
Earth burial, otherwise known as interment, is the most common form of disposition in the United States. Americans seem to prefer the idea of a final resting place and a cemetery gravesite where they can go to remember the person who died.
Cemeteries may be owned by municipalities, churches, religious groups or other private organizations, and may have requirements about the type of outer burial container that may be necessary. Some place restrictions on types of markers or monuments. Veterans may be eligible for burial in state or national government cemeteries. Your funeral director can answer your questions about local cemetery requirements and practices.
If you are a veteran, you are entitled to free burial and a grave marker in a national cemetery. Your spouse and dependent children are also entitled to a plot and grave marker if they are buried in a national cemetery. You can find out more about services for veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs burial and memorial benefits web page. The rites and ceremonies of funeralization, including embalming and visitation, often accompany cremation. Final disposition options after cremation includes earth burial, entombment or scattering. Some families choose to keep the cremated remains in an urn or other appropriate container. Some may choose cremation and disposition of the body with no attendant rites or ceremonies.
During the first few days after a death, family and friends surround you. You are busy planning the funeral and may not have time to think about yourself until later when you are alone with your grief. After you have planned the funeral, take care of yourself.
You can expect to experience a wide range of emotions. Grieving is hard work, and you may feel tired and lethargic without understanding why. Lighten your schedule if you can, eat healthy foods, and exercise to renew your energy. Take time to be alone with your thoughts, but also spend time talking to close family and friends about your loss. You need to express your emotions. You can learn more about grief and how to deal with it on our Help With Grief page.