Did you know that respected grief experts agree that a funeral is a necessary step in the grief process? As cremation continues to grow in popularity in the United States, it’s important to know cremation doesn’t mean you can’t have a healing and meaningful funeral.
According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the majority of Americans are unaware you can have a funeral, visitation, or viewing prior to cremation. Less than half of the population associate cremation with a memorial service and only 11.8% associate cremation with a viewing or visitation. These statistics mean cremation families are probably missing out on the following service options to commemorate and memorialize their loved one:
1. Traditional Service/Viewing/Visitation Prior to Cremation
Traditional funerals with the body present, private viewings, and/or public visitations are all possible prior to cremation. Ceremonial caskets containing a cremation insert can be rented for the service if desired.
Having a service and viewing the body allows loved ones to better emotionally process the reality of the death. Physically seeing the body solidifies the reality that the person is no longer present and offers an opportunity to say goodbye.
2. Memorial Service After Cremation
You can also plan a personalized memorial service after a cremation has occurred to honor your loved one. The body won’t be present like a traditional service (you can still set out an urn during the service if you’d like), but a memorial service offers an opportunity for the grieving to unite, provide mutual support, and honor the life of their loved one.
Even if the deceased didn’t want to “make a fuss,” it’s important to remember that having a ceremony or service is a crucial part of the grief journey. Before skipping the service, consider the needs of mourners who may need the opportunity to gather and grieve.
3. Direct Cremation
Families often choose direct cremation because their loved one didn’t want to “make a fuss,” they couldn’t afford another option, or they didn’t know what other options were available. Honor their wishes if your loved one selects direct cremation and you agree with that decision. However, if you disagree with their choice, sit down and share why you’d like to plan a meaningful service alongside their cremation.
Remember, there’s not a “one size fits all” approach for funerals. Think through what’s best for all involved, including those who are left behind, and do your best to balance your family’s needs with your own desires.