People seem to have a preconception that, if they choose cremation, they have fewer choices for the funeral ceremony. Whether or not you choose cremation, and many more people these days are choosing it, there is one important thing to remember. Cremation is simply an alternative to traditional burial. Other than that, the funeral procedures not only can be, but should be very much the same. Put another way, there is no reason for cremation to be the deciding factor in how you choose to plan your funeral services.
If you bury your loved one’s ashes in a gravesite, you will do yourself the favor of having a physical place to come back to in the future.
Experience has taught us that, for the grieving family, there are great benefits to having a viewing and having the funeral service with the body present. That is true regardless of whether the remains are going to be buried or cremated. We see that families generally heal better if they don’t allow cremation to preclude the beneficial aspects of the funeral procedures.
Once a family has chosen cremation, the disposition of the remains must be considered. Cremated remains can be placed in an urn, interred in a family burial plot, committed to a mausoleum or columbarium, or included in an urn garden. They can also be scattered over water or over a favorite piece of land. The choice depends on the personal preference of the family, or the expressed wishes of your loved one.
One thing to consider is this (and again, this is generations of experience speaking): if you bury your loved one’s ashes in a gravesite, you will do yourself the favor of having a physical place to come back to in the future, to remember your loved one. Right now, when grief still hangs heavy in the air, you may not think having this physical place to visit is so important. And it is true that not all people go back to visit gravesites. But we have seen that, after about five years, and even if they didn’t expect to, people begin to wish for a place to put flowers on birthdays and holidays. Future generations, also, may appreciate the benefit of a lasting place of memorial.
One of the most solemn, and yet most healing, moments in a funeral is the procession of the mourners with the family to the cemetery, and the committal of their loved one to the earth. The committal ritual is so important that we suggest that, even when there is a cremation following a funeral, families still schedule a private burial. It is a signal that the funeral ritual is complete, and now we begin the work of getting on with our lives.