The Types of Funerals
Types of Funerals

Funeral Choices for Families

When it comes to honoring a loved one who has passed away, choosing among the types of funerals offered plays an important role in reflecting their life, beliefs, and family wishes. Understanding the differences in deathcare services aids in making an informed decision during this sensitive time. Each option has unique aspects and significance, from traditional full-service funerals to direct burials and cremations. Religious and cultural traditions, personal preferences, and financial considerations influence these choices.

To further assist in navigating these options, we invite you to explore our comprehensive Funeral Home Glossary, which provides additional explanations of terms and practices relevant to funeral planning. Our resources aim to demystify the process and offer clarity during a time that can often feel overwhelming.

In this article, we delve into the different types of funeral services, highlighting the nuances and considerations of each to help you choose a service that truly honors the memory of your loved one.

“Traditional” Full-service Funeral:

This type of funeral, often referred to by funeral providers as a “traditional” funeral, usually includes a viewing or visitation and formal funeral service, use of a hearse to transport the body to the funeral site and cemetery, and burial, entombment, or cremation of the remains. It is generally the most expensive type of funeral. In addition to the funeral home’s basic services fee, costs often include embalming and dressing the body, renting the funeral home for the viewing or service, and using vehicles to transport the family if they don’t use their own. The costs of a casket, cemetery plot or crypt, and other funeral goods and services also must be factored in.

Direct Burial:

The body is buried shortly after death, usually in a simple container. No viewing or visitation is involved, so no embalming is necessary. A memorial service may be held at the graveside or later. Direct burial usually costs less than the “traditional” full-service funeral. Costs include the funeral home’s basic services fee, transportation and care of the body, purchasing a casket or burial container, and a cemetery plot or crypt. If the family chooses to be at the cemetery for the burial, the funeral home often charges an additional fee for a graveside service.

Direct Cremation:

The body is cremated shortly after death without embalming. The cremated remains are placed in an urn or other container. No viewing or visitation is involved. The remains can be kept in the home, buried in a crypt or niche in a cemetery, or buried or scattered in a favorite spot. Direct cremation usually costs less than the “traditional” full-service funeral. Costs include the funeral home’s basic services fee, transportation, and care of the body. A crematory fee may be included, or if the funeral home does not own the crematory, the fee may be added. There also will be a charge for an urn or other container. A cemetery plot or crypt costs are included only if the remains are buried or entombed.

Green Burials: A New Type of Funeral

In recent years, there has been a growing trend towards green burials, a method that seeks to minimize the environmental impact of funerals. Green burials are designed to allow for a return to nature, where the body is interred in a manner that does not inhibit decomposition and allows it to recycle naturally. These burials typically forgo embalming fluids, often harmful to the environment. Instead, the body is placed in a biodegradable casket, shroud, or even a simple cloth and buried in a natural setting. One of the hallmarks of green burials is the absence of traditional markers such as headstones. In their place, natural elements like trees or flowers often mark the burial site, reducing the ecological footprint. Green burial grounds also eschew concrete vaults, opting for a more natural integration with the earth. This approach benefits the environment and provides a more cost-effective and emotionally fulfilling option for families. It aligns with the values of those who lived their lives with an eye toward sustainability and ecological responsibility. As our society becomes more conscious of our environmental impact, green burials offer a way to honor our loved ones in alignment with these values, providing a final act of stewardship for the planet.

Making the Right Choice

In choosing the right type of funeral, it’s essential to consider each family’s diverse needs and preferences. Whether it’s a traditional full-service funeral, direct burial, or direct cremation, each option uniquely honors and remembers the deceased. These practices, deeply rooted in personal, cultural, and religious beliefs, offer families the flexibility to create a farewell that is as elaborate or as simple as they wish. As we continue to witness changes in societal attitudes and norms, funeral practices are also evolving, increasingly incorporating environmentally conscious choices and adapting to new cultural trends. Ultimately, the decision on the type of funeral service is deeply personal, reflecting the values and the life of the loved one being commemorated.

Additional Resources:

The Funeral Consumers Alliance provides helpful information to consumers when making funeral arrangements.

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