The American funeral has changed more in the past few years than in the prior fifty years. It used to be that the “Traditional Funeral” was pretty much the same. A wake or visitation period, which lasted anywhere from one to three days, followed by a church service and burial in the cemetery. Yet today, there is no such thing as a “Traditional Funeral”. People are choosing funeral services
that are more reflective of the person and fit the lifestyle of the family. With more and more ethnic groups living in our communities, traditional funerals now incorporate many of the customs and ceremonies of different cultures.
To give our client families and friends some guidance in selecting a funeral service that is meaningful, we have put together answers to questions about different types of funeral options.
Click on the questions below to reveal each respective answer.
The main difference between these two services is whether or not the body is present. A funeral service is conducted with the presence of the body and a memorial service is conducted in memory of the person, without the presence of the full body. To learn more about memorial services, visit our [TODO LINK} cremation section of this guide.
Why is a Funeral Service Important?
In the earliest recorded times, societies honored the dead through ceremonies. According to beliefs at that time, the purpose of the ritual was to properly send the decedent on the journey into the next life. Today, however, psychologists and other experts agree that the benefits of the funeral are for those left behind; those who must reconstruct their lives following their loss. Before family and friends can fully adjust to their loss, survivors must express their grief in ways meaningful to them. They must face, openly and realistically, the fact that death has indeed occurred. The funeral provides the opportunity to do exactly that.
Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body, retards the decomposition process, and enhances the appearance of a body disfigured by traumatic death or illness. Embalming makes it possible to lengthen the time between death and the final disposition, thus allowing family members time to arrange and participate in the type of service most comforting to them.
No, in Massachusetts embalming is not required by law. However, embalming is required if the family has selected a funeral service with a public wake or viewing. Embalming is also required if the deceased is to be transporting from one state to another by common carrier. For example, if an individual passes away in Florida and is to be transported by airplane to Massachusetts for burial, embalming would be required.
When compared to other major life cycle events, like births and weddings, funerals are not expensive. A wedding costs at least three times as much; but because it is a happy event, wedding costs are rarely criticized. A funeral home is a 24-hour, labor-intensive business, with extensive facilities (viewing rooms, chapels, limousines, hearses, etc.); these expenses must be factored into the cost of a funeral. Moreover, the cost of a funeral includes not only merchandise, like caskets, but the services of a funeral director in making arrangements, filing appropriate forms, dealing with doctors, ministers, florists, newspapers and others; and seeing to all the necessary details.
Just because someone is interested in cremation does not mean that the family cannot have a viewing and funeral service. All of the customs and ceremonies associated with a traditional funeral can still be performed prior to the cremation taking place. For these occasions, we offer economical cremation caskets and rental caskets.
Traditionally, funerals are held in a church, which is still a common practice today. However, there are several other options. Funeral services may be held at the funeral home in our Chapel or can even be held at the grave site or cemetery chapel.
It is becoming more common to tailor a funeral service to the personality of the deceased. Prayers and remembrances offered by family and friends, favorite music, treasured belongings, pictures and mementos can all play a major role in making the final tribute fitting and moving. The family can choose to assemble a display containing family photographs, favorite possessions, items from a hobby or awards the deceased received. These items help shift the emphasis of the services to the memories of the person’s life, rather than on the circumstances of his or her death. Personalization can also be added by simply choosing the most appropriate services and products available from the funeral home. These include cremation and its various service options, participating in a living memorial program, or purchasing a burial plot below the canopy of a sturdy oak tree.
Most funerals in North America conclude with earth burial, which is burying the remains contained in a casket into the ground. Purchases made for this option generally include a casket, a vault, a cemetery plot and a headstone or grave marker. Above ground entombment is provided in mausoleums, buildings designed and maintained to house human remains. Mausoleums are especially popular in certain regions of North America, and the availability and price ranges of mausoleum crypts vary depending on geographic location. In our area, there are several cemeteries that operate mausoleums.