Services for the departed can be as individual as the family and friends want it to be. Or, more and more often, the service is as individual as the deceased desired it to be, as preplanned and prepaid funerals become more common. Whether planning for your own remembrance, or the service for someone very close to you, understanding common types of services and how they are referred to will help to demystify and uncomplicate the process of planning a service.
The terms used concerning funerals can be confusing, especially when a person is dealing with very strong emotions. A funereal isn't just one thing: there are multiple types of services. Some types of services may be more suited to some people's wishes than others. The way you can assure your wishes are respected is to learn about the types of services commonly held now. Prepaid funerals allow individuals to know that their wishes will be respected, since they have planned it themselves.
Of course, you can make plans for a funeral that don't necessarily fit into the common categories. But understanding the options will better equip you to make choices.
Traditional Funeral Service
This service is held with the deceased's body present, in an open or closed casket, usually within 2 or 3 days of the death. These are often held in churches or in the chapel of a funereal home, often with a member of the clergy officiating. Before the service, their may be a viewing or visitation time. Afterwards, mourners may travel in a procession to the gravesite or a crematory chapel. This may also include a brief service. A family may request that any or all of these services be private.
This service is similar to a traditional funeral, but is held without the deceased's body present. An urn with cremated remains may be present. A burial (if held) may be before or after the memorial service. The memorial service could be held at any time after the death, sometimes weeks or months later. The service could be similar to a traditional one, held in a church or funeral home either as a religious ceremony or non-religious. But many other types of memorial services could be held in a home, a community room, or outdoors. A memorial service may be held in addition to a traditional one. A traditional service and burial may take place in the city where the person resided, but later a memorial service is held in their home town. Because individuals may have strong preferences for where their service is held, if it's religious or not, a preference for a certain officiant, or many other choices, prepaid funerals have gained in popularity.
Home Funeral Service
Once common, these services are beginning to regain favor. This service can feel more intimate and personal to loved ones. Regulations may vary from place to place concerning funeral services and embalming, and there are often restrictions on where someone can be buried. A local funeral home director can provide guidance.
Celebration of Life or Affirmation Service
These services vary based on individual preferences, but in general they are more personalized and emphasize remembering the person in life. Many people like the idea of being remembered in a less sad, even festive, way that celebrates life. Increasingly those who want a celebration of life service held after they pass are opting for prepaid funerals so they can specify their wishes.
A service remembering and honoring someone who has passed away can be as personal as the individual. For those who have strong feelings about the service held after they have passed away, prepaid funerals offer the ability to not just leave their wishes behind, but make their own final arrangements.