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When choosing cremation, it is important not only to capture the memories and celebrate the spirit of your loved one, but also to provide healing through gathering together, paying tribute and celebrating a life well lived.
Keep in mind that cremation does not limit your ability to spend time with the body of your loved one or hold a meaningful ceremony. You may have a visitation period and a funeral service prior to the cremation. Or your family may spend time privately with the body before cremation, followed by a public ceremony a day or two later with the urn present. You may want to consider keeping your loved one’s body present for the funeral ceremony as it often encourages more expressions of grief and authentic mourning.
Friends and family gather for a tribute prior to cremation, often
with the decedent present, which activates support and allows family and
friends to say goodbye. A service such as a Mass of Christian Burial or church service will follow. After the service, the decedent will be transported to the crematory. Committal of the cremains usually take place at a future time.
A small gathering and informal family farewell takes place in a private setting and offers the chance to say goodbye, allowing family and friends to recall memories and support one another.
Services often include the use of music, symbols, words and actions that reflect the life of the loved one and activate support among family and friends. Whether simple or elaborate, traditional, contemporary or religious, choose elements that best reflect the passion and life story of the one whom you are honoring.
A direct cremation is when there is no funeral service or memorial service, but instead simply final disposition of the body by the funeral home or memorial society.
A word from Dr. Alan Wolfelt
If you are considering direct cremation, I plead with you to reconsider. Honoring the life and death of the person who died with some sort of ceremony—no matter how brief, how small or how informal—will help your family acknowledge the reality of the death and begin to heal. When no ceremony is held, it is as if the life and death of the person who died had no significance to anyone. Also keep in mind that you may still hold a committal service at the gravesite or crematory should you choose direct cremation.
Think carefully about the many options available to you and your family. Slow down and plan. It is through planning that a meaningful experience of a funeral ceremony is created. And do remember that funeral directors, clergy, celebrants and close friends who have done these things before can all be valuable resources to you. You are not alone!