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Posted on September 23, 2021 by jhcadm

Burial vs. Cremation – What Are Your Options?

Your Burial and Cremation Options

What is the difference between a traditional burial and cremation? Can you have a funeral even if you are cremated? When it comes to making end-of-life decisions for yourself or a loved one, the experience can be overwhelming. With so many options available to you, it can be confusing to determine exactly what each service entails and how to determine what it is that truly best fits your needs.

We’re here to help clarify common misconceptions about burials and cremations so you can move forward with preparedness and confidence in your decision.   

Cremation Services 101

To start, let’s answer some of the most commonly asked questions about cremation and cremation services.

Who performs cremations?

While some funeral homes have their own retort to perform cremations, the most common answer is a crematory. This is a stand-alone facility which services the cremation needs of several funeral homes. In some states, such as Michigan, laws do not allow a funeral home to have direct ownership of a crematory or cemetery.

How is a body prepared for cremation?

This will vary depending on the type of service the family has selected as well as state laws and local ordinances. Typically, if a family has elected to have a public viewing, the body will be embalmed and then transported to the crematory after the service or viewing has taken place. If the family chooses not to have a viewing, then the body is placed into a simple receptacle and transported to the crematory. If you’re opting for a cremation, let the mortician know about anything you may want saved or removed.

What does the family need to provide for cremation and/or cremation services?

If the family has elected to have a public viewing prior to either cremation or burial, the same preparations will need to be made for both. This includes providing an outfit to clothe the deceased in during the viewing. To make sure you’re not forgetting any of the most important elements, from paperwork to preparing memorial items, download our funeral planning checklist.

When it comes time to pick up your loved one’s ashes, you will be notified by either the funeral home or the crematorium that your loved one’s remains are ready to be picked up. Typically, these will be given to you in a sealed bag placed into the urn or container of your choice. If you have not yet chosen a container for your loved one’s ashes, this sealed bag will be placed in a small, simple container to make transporting them safer and easier.

Urns themselves can vary greatly in detail and price. It all depends on the size, material(s), and purpose of the urn (is it meant to be a decorative piece in the home? Biodegradable? A piece of jewelry?) From custom pieces with your loved one’s likeness sketched into the surface to physical representations of their passion or hobbies, there is truly something for everyone. Overwhelmed by the choices? Talk to your funeral director for suggestions on where and how to get started.

Burial Services 101

While perhaps more “traditional” in the sense that we, as a human race, have been doing it far longer, burials are what we often think of when we picture end-of-life services. We see references to burials all throughout modern media, from caskets to cemeteries, hearses to mausoleums, the list goes on. But, regardless of how familiar these items may seem, when it comes to planning the burial of a loved one, it can feel like a completely alien experience if you’re unprepared.

How much does a casket cost?

Caskets, like urns, can vary significantly in price depending on the gauge of steel it is made from and/or if it is made of solid hardwood. Caskets can also be customized, from the fabric lining to keepsake compartments where you can placed messages to your loved one—some people have even made the casket to represent the deceased’s favorite hobby, sport, and more.

Are the funeral services different for burials and cremations? 

The simple answer is, they’re not. Funeral services, whether you’ve chosen burial or cremation, all follow the same general setup. What will more significantly alter how you prepare for a burial is whether or not you are having a viewing. If your family has opted to have a viewing, you will need to prepare clothes, gather pictures to help aid the mortician to provide the desired look the family wants, etc. Many families also like to have memorial tables set up to remember the deceased, displaying pictures, videos, medals, etc. 

Special Service Options for Burials and Cremations

For both burials and cremations, you can opt for a more traditional funeral service or something a bit more custom. A traditional service often includes a viewing, a funeral service (frequently comprised of prayer, a eulogy, music, readings from literary or religious texts, and more), and burial.  

If you want to opt for something a bit more unique, you can include custom, “special” services to further celebrate the life and memory of the deceased. What is available to you is often dependent on the individual funeral home. At James H. Cole Home for Funerals, for example, we often organize special services such as a dove release, a horse-drawn carriage, an honor guard for first responders and military personnel, and more. Talk to your funeral director to find out what special services they offer, or to work out a custom service that’s completely unique to your loved one.

There are a lot of questions surrounding the various types of funeral services and the differences between burial and cremation. Make the decision that’s just right for you and your family with knowledge of what each of these services entails. Have more questions about burials, cremation, and/or what’s right for your family? Call or email us today to talk to a James H. Cole Home for Funerals Director and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know, step-by-step.

Posted in Funeral Industry, General Topics