Cremations are one of the most increasingly common choices for the remains of a loved one upon passing. In addition to the more affordable cost, cremation also allows for flexibility and ease when it comes to planning services and placing the remains somewhere significant.
However, when it comes to choosing cremation, families can decide for themselves what type of service they’d like included with the remains; from direct cremations, to traditional funeral cremations, to cremations with a memorial service. Understanding what each type of cremation service includes will help families make a complete and informed decision. Here’s what you need to know about each type of service.
Direct cremation is the most basic cremation option. Direct cremation is where the body is cremated soon after death without any treatment (i.e. embalming) or funeral services. Direct cremation typically consists of transporting the body from the place of death to the funeral home, the cremation itself, and a temporary container for the ashes.
Families often opt for direct cremation since it is the cheapest form of disposition. Unfortunately, a traditional burial and funeral services can be rather expensive, so direct cremation can save a family thousands of dollars in extra costs.
Additionally, direct cremation may be chosen because of the flexibility it offers in scheduling funerary events. Funeral homes and crematories usually have strict schedules in place due to the amount of families they must serve. So direct cremation gives families the freedom to choose when they will host their celebration of life or memorial service without the added pressure from a funeral home needing to squeeze them in.
A traditional service with cremation includes the actual cremation with a viewing or service. This usually requires the body of the deceased be embalmed for the viewing. The embalming and funerary ceremonies come first, and after all the farewells have been given, the body is cremated then returned to the family for final keeping.
A traditional cremation is often preferred by religious people as well as those who choose to follow a traditional approach in death practices. The ceremonial process of having a funeral and a wake/viewing ceremony allows the bereaved to have a formal farewell for closure. Funeral homes often offer discounted package deals for these traditional ceremonies since they require a lot more equipment and services.
The funeral service and viewing are arranged by the family with assistance and guidance from a funeral director. The embalming, prep and casketing of the body occurs within 1-2 weeks from date of death. This allows sufficient timing to not only plan the ceremony but to also invite family and friends for the funeral.
These services are often held either at a religious institution (such as a church or temple), a funeral home, or a designated place chosen by the next of kin. The deceased is placed in a casket with the family ultimately deciding (with advice from the funeral director) to have an open or closed casket for the ceremony.
After the ceremony ends, the funeral home will then cremate the body before delivering the cremains to the family. Once the family is in possession of the ashes, they are free to do as they wish – they can organize a more intimate ceremony of life or memorial, meet at a special spot to scatter the ashes, or even take the cremains to a cemetery to be encased in a niche or buried in a plot.
Lastly, the third option for cremation includes having the body cremated and hosting a memorial service with the ashes present.
Typically, this will be more expensive than a direct cremation since there is a ceremony involved, but less expensive than a traditional cremation as there is no embalming or body preparation necessary.
The deceased is cremated within a few days of passing, as is the standard, but since the ashes don’t require a strict timeline as is needed with a traditional service, families have more flexibility and can choose any date or location for their memorial service.
Two common reasons for opting to have a memorial service with cremation include finances and flexibility. Currently, due to the pandemic, many funeral homes are allowing their families to choose a much later date for a memorial after the cremation has occurred. This allows for a more formal ceremony without placing families and funeral employees at unnecessary risk of contracting the virus.
A family might also choose to have a memorial service with the cremation if they aren’t comfortable with the idea of embalming or if their religious or personal beliefs forbid embalming. The cremation allows them the opportunity to host a formal ceremony and have their final farewells while still standing firm to where their preferences lie.
Each family should discuss what their personal opinions and desires are when it comes to having a traditional ceremony, memorial service, or simply a direct cremation. Whether it comes down to finances, personal preference, or needing flexibility with services, it’s best to discuss the options with other key family members. You can also consult with the funeral home to find out their offers and package deals for their various cremation options so you can make the most informed decision.