Monday, November 12, 2007

Straight Talk About Funerals, Burial and Cremation Options

Straight Talk About Funerals, Burial and Cremation Options

Article printed in Senior Newspaper 2006

Funerals and funeral planning is never a pleasant subject to think about. Funerals can often be very stressful and have a way of turning our worlds upside down. Planning a funeral in advance can alleviate some stress on oneself and our remaining family and friends.

In planning a traditional funeral there are several details to think about and decisions to be made.

The first thing to remember is that you are the one planning the funeral or memorial service. The funeral home directors will assist you and offer suggestions and recommendations, but it is ultimately your decision of what type of service you would like.

There are several forms of rituals to be considered.

The first such ritual is a gathering where the body is present in an open or closed casket. This is oftentimes referred to as the visitation, viewing, calling hours, or wake. It is a time for friends and family members to pay their respects and honor the life that once lived. This ceremony allows loved ones to make their last farewells to the deceased while giving and accepting the support of others.

The funeral or memorial service is a ritual or ceremony composed of numerous elements that aid and comfort the bereaved. Nearly every service is centered on some form of a eulogy. A eulogy pays tribute to the life of the deceased and expresses gratitude for the contributions he or she made. It is traditionally delivered by a clergy person, but may also be given by friends, family members or business associates. The eulogy benefits the bereaved by affirming the value and importance of their loved one's life.

An emphasis on communicating the unique qualities of someone's life is another element of today's services, which have taken on new dimensions by reflecting the personality of the deceased.

There are many ways to transform a funeral into a “Life Tribute” by personalizing and honoring the deceased and focusing on their accomplishments.

Memory tables can display personal items of the deceased. Memory Frames can also be utilized. They are large photo frames that display a collage of photos of segments of the deceased life. As human beings many of us are visually stimulated. A picture really is worth a thousand words. Photos tend to allow us to reflect on sometimes forgotten yet cherished memories.

Today, some caskets can be personalized that reflect the loved ones personal interests or hobbies. One way of personalizing the casket is by utilizing embroidered tributes. Embroidered tributes are displayed in the cap or lid of the casket that may have a scripture, poem, photo, etc. that is symbolic of the deceased hobbies or special interests.

Some caskets can also be personalized by utilizing special themed corners that can attach or detach from the caskets for the family to retain as a keepsake. They may also reflect the loved ones hobbies or special interests such a deer or fish theme for the outdoorsman. Religious themed corners are also available such as cross, crucifix, angel, praying hands, bible, sewing, cooking, gardening, golf, veterans, mom, dad, etc. all reflecting the life that once lived.

For those who choose cremation, urns may also be personalized with engraving of name and dates of birth, death or poems on the urn. You can also add photos, images, and emblems that also reflect the deceased. It is my personal belief that every urn should be engraved! In a transient society in which we live, especially in instances when urns are not buried or placed in a niche there needs to be an identity of who that person is without disturbing the cremated remains. Besides a person without a name or identity is oftentimes overlooked and with time forgotten.

Cremation Jewelry such as necklaces, and bracelet keepsakes (Miniature Urns), etc. can also be utilized as a permanent personal keepsake.

With cremation you also have several planning options available. You are not limited to only a direct or immediate cremation. You may choose a visitation or viewing, a funeral or memorial service; merchandise offerings, such as a casket, urn, keepsakes, etc. These are all options available prior to the cremation. Cremation can then serve its primary purpose, which is final disposition.

Personalized funeral and memorial services have become more common. A personalized service may reflect on dads military honors, golf clubs, shoes, hat, honors, accomplishments and educational degrees, awards and accomplishments may be displayed. You may also have mom or grandmother’s quilts or crochet work, sewing accessories and recipes displayed. Oftentimes, the funeral stationary packages may also reflect dad or mom’s hobbies or special interests.

While still prevalent, the cookie cutter funerals and memorials are quickly fading. Death is very personal and individuals want to reflect back on the life of a friend or loved one and pay homage to their life’s contributions, friendships and accomplishments.

The funeral or memorial can be as unique as the individual.

The ultimate aspiration and personal goal at the conclusion of the funeral, memorial, or cremation process, would be that friends and family have complete closure and feel at peace with all decisions made.

My personal fear is that without the proper final farewell for our loved it may create a society of individuals dealing with unresolved grief which will carry over into our jobs, personal relationships, etc. I cannot stress enough how important the viewing of the deceased is as well as an appropriate service selection

My wife lost her father to cancer a few years ago and I assisted the family is planning a desirable service and tribute for her father. Her family has told me many times that they are well satisfied with how they chose to honor their husband and father. The service was as unique as was the life of their loved one. The service was what I have coined a “hybrid funeral service” the service had traditional trappings and values, yet it was personalized unlike any other service we had been to. It encompassed many forms of personalization and honor to his life accomplishments. Although he would be greatly missed the family truly felt at peace with his passing and how they honored their loved one.

Every individual is different, so why should every funeral or memorial service be the same?

The service can be as simple or as involved as you want it to be. Basically, with the exception of violating laws, societal and ethical boundaries there are no set rules for planning funerals, memorials or cremation services.

To learn more about funerals, memorials, burial, cremation options, caskets, burial vaults, cemetery property options, which include interment and entombment, always consult with your local funeral director first.

The funeral director is a licensed and highly trained professional unlike others working in branches of the death care industry (cemeteries, casket stores, etc.). Your funeral professional of choice will guide you through the entire process. They will assist you in making the best decisions that suits your emotional as well as financial needs and desires.

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