The types of funerals are limitless, and they can be geared to each family’s needs in an endless number of individual ways. They can be simple or elaborate, public or private, secular or religious, or a mixture of these. Other considerations are whether there will be a viewing or calling period, whether the body will be present at the funeral service, and whether the casket will be open or closed.
One of the most important ways we can serve you is by helping you personalize your loved one’s funeral in a meaningful and honoring way. When we meet with you, we listen to your family stories and learn a little about your loved one and your family. We make suggestions and offer options that might not occur to you. For instance, you may have the funeral in a church or another location that was meaningful to your loved one. If you choose to have the funeral at the Ashton Funeral Home, we have many ideas to help you personalize it.
We can also help you personalize the viewing, calling period, music, eulogy, readings, committal service, and gathering afterwards. Incorporating memories, stories, photos, favorite possessions, artwork, music, poetry, even favorite foods will allow your family and friends to participate in remembering your loved one’s unique life. The things that had meaning to your loved one will give meaning and comfort to those who attend the funeral.
Yes. Cremation is a separate event from the funeral or memorial service. We notice that families often feel they have helped themselves heal best by choosing to hold a viewing and service prior to cremation. You may also choose to have a service after cremation, and with or without the cremated remains present.
Some families choose a private interment directly after the cremation, others wait to schedule an interment later, when more family members have had time to gather.
This is a very heartfelt question. A viewing certainly is sad, because someone you care about has died. You are going to miss this person, and this death is going to have an impact on your life. But sadness after a death is normal and important, and viewing your loved one while experiencing the support of your friends and the community can be very healing.
As impactful as this loss is on you, it also has an impact on your loved one’s friends and acquaintances. Viewing the deceased makes all of us consider our own mortality, and allows us the gift of reevaluating our own life. It give us an opportunity to show compassion for the survivors and each other. So, yes, a viewing brings sadness, but it can be turned to our good.
Children are amazingly intuitive, and they have no inborn fear of death. Naturally, families desire to protect children from pain and hurt. But we can inadvertently cause them to fear death more when it remains an unknown, something they can’t see. So we generally recommend that children who are old enough for a church service are ready to attend a funeral. There, they will be allowed to work through their own grief and say goodbye in their own way. Families can encourage and answer their questions with patience, love and reassurance.
Children can be included in services at whatever level they are comfortable with. At a time when they may be feeling very out of control, it can be helpful to let them feel like they’re doing something important. Often the wisest course is to take cues from the children, themselves.
It is quite a privilege to be asked to deliver the eulogy, as it is probably one of the most memorable elements of a funeral service. The eulogy is a short speech in which we talk about the life, character, and memories of the deceased. Traditionally, this was delivered by one person, such as a minister, family member or friend of the deceased. That is now expanding to include a general invitation for funeral attendees to stand up and briefly share a fond memory of the person who died.
The best, and most remembered, eulogies are personalized. So take time to think about the key qualities of the person you are speaking about. The word eulogy comes from the Greek word eulogia, which means blessing or praise. So use this time to honor only the good qualities of your loved one and give thanks for their life. Share memories and stories. Try to capture their personality in word pictures. For instance, if they were generous, give examples of their generosity. You don’t have to discuss every aspect of the person’s life, but it is a good idea to mention important people and achievements or milestones.
Here are some steps to get you started on writing a speech which will be cherished by friends and family of your loved one.
This is such a sad question, but a very real one. There are many cases in which family and friends cannot say goodbye: fatal car accidents, heart attacks, other calamities. Against all reason, survivors can feel guilt and lose the ability to see that they did not create the circumstances causing their sense of loss. Even after a lingering illness, if we weren’t able to be at our loved one’s side at the time of death, our pain is increased.
What we have learned is this: if a death is sudden, it becomes very important to help make it real for the family left behind. Life can take on a very surreal quality for them, and they may have a tendency to think the death hasn’t really occurred. And of course none of us wants to believe it really occurred. So in this instance, the job of the funeral becomes more important than ever — to confront and confirm the reality of the death.
When death is sudden, the viewing becomes quite important because it gives those left behind an opportunity to face death’s reality and embrace the pain. With a lingering death, we are given an opportunity to prepare ourselves to come to terms with it. But with a sudden death, there is no time for preparation. So, odd as is may sound, it helps when we can confront the body, and have those final conversations in our head and heart. Although families may feel a desire to plan a memorial service later, without the body present, we try to encourage them to establish a network of support around them now, when everyone can come near and share the shock together. It is hard, but it is helpful.