In my limited experience people tend to think that cremation takes place instead of a funeral. They think that if a family chooses cremation, there will not be a casket, a viewing, a memorial service, or an interment. This simply isn’t true. It doesn’t have to be an “either-or” situation. There are many funeral options with cremation.
If a family chooses cremation, all the parts of a funeral may still exist. The only difference is that instead of lowering a casket into the ground, the body is cremated.
Families may choose to have a viewing. They body will be dressed and laid in a casket. Loved ones may visit with the deceased and say their last words.
They may choose to have a traditional or contemporary memorial service with or without the body present. If families choose cremation the memorial can take place with the body laid out in a casket. Some families may even wait until the cremation has taken place, and have the service with the cremation urn present.
Cremation is becoming very popular. Today, 35% of Americans are cremated (statistic taken from CANA, the Cremation Association of North America). This is for many reasons. For some it is about cost. Cremation is usually less expensive than purchasing land in a cemetery and the other costs associated with burying a body and maintaining the site. For other people it is about being more environmentally friendly. Cremation eliminates the vast amounts of wood, metal and cement that are used to create the caskets and burial vaults.
Today, most religions allow for cremation. In 1963 Pope Paul VI changed the Catholic Church’s standing and began to allow cremation. If you have any questions specific to your religion, please contact your clergy member.
Cremation also allows more flexibility. It allows families to take their time on arranging a memorial. Once the body is cremated a memorial can take place at a later time. This allows family and friends to make travel arrangements.
In my business, I have often noticed that families are choosing to have a memorial at a church or mortuary with or without the urn present. They are able to customize the service in the appropriate manner for their family’s traditions. The scattering is arranged for the next day or a few days later, while the family is in town. A scattering service then finishes off the memorial by having the scattering done in a location that was meaningful to the deceased or the family.
Families choosing to have a witnessed scattering usually use this as an extension of the memorial service. The family and friends can then gather at the scattering location and say their goodbyes. We arrange a day and time that is convenient for those in attendance. I usually suggest that they bring balloons in the decedent’s favorite color. This helps me locate them on the ground while I’m in flight. One suggestion is that they write a few words on the balloons so after the scattering is complete they can release the balloons if they wish.
Families choosing the private service will usually choose to do the flight while key family members are still in town. The private service allows the family to be a part of the scattering crew. One family member operates the scattering device and releases the ashes in flight.
One thing I have discovered is that there is no right or wrong way to memorialize someone, there are many funeral options with cremation. Families may choose to be very traditional, very non-traditional, or somewhere in-between. Cremation works well in all these situations. If you have any questions about funeral options with cremation, or questions about our services, please contact us at (562) 691-7227.